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'Escape From Tomorrow' director talks filming under Disney's nose

Scene from the film
Scene from the film "Escape From Tomorrow" directed by Randy Moore.
Escape From Tomorrow

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The new film "Escape From Tomorrow" was one of the most talked-about projects at this year's Sundance Festival this year, but not for the reasons you might think. 

Spurred from director Randy Moore's childhood memories of Disneyworld, the film takes a dark and sinister look at the Happiest Place On Earth. 

Filmed completely under the radar of Disney officials at both the Orlando and Anaheim parks, the film follows Jim, a middle-aged father of two, as he traverses the parks' crags and crevices with his two adorable kids and a nagging wife.

Everything seems bright and sunny until he receives a phone call from his boss telling him that he's been fired, without reason. He keeps the secret from his wife and kids, but then strange and terrible things start to happen. The park and the people in it end up taking on a much more pernicious persona. 

No one — including Moore — thought the film would get distribution, but so far Disney has remained mum. Starting Oct. 11, theatergoers throughout the country will be able to check it out

Director Randy Moore joins the show to talk about how he managed to film a feature-length horror film right under Disney's nose. 

Interview Highlights:   

On his experience at Disneyworld as a kid: 
"My father relocated to Orlando after my parents separated, so I would go visit him during the summer and pretty religiously we would make our way to the parks. This just became our ritual and we did it so much that eventually we just associated him completely with the parks.

"When I went back with my own kids, then all of a sudden I had this rush of emotions. We were going around the park on the same rides, and they're almost like time machines in a way because some of them haven't changed too much. It was like he was there haunting me."

On why his film takes such a dark view of Disney parks:
"I was more interested in the experience of going to Disney, because I feel like its such a rite of passage and its such a universal shared experience for so many Americans. It's so much a part of our culture that I was commenting as much if not more on American culture as in Disney culture."

On whether he was concerned about getting caught:
"When I started making it, I said this is an experimental film. I didn't mean that in a cool, arty way, it really was an experiment to see if we could get through it. Every day we knew there was a possibility we could be discovered and shut down. It's hard enough being a first-time director bringing everyone on board and trying to impart your vision on them, but then when its a unique project like this one it's ten times as hard. 

On the film's physical impact on his body: 
"I shed tons of weight making this movie. I was 215 when it began and I ended up being 168 at the end."

On the filming process: 
"We brought Canon 5D Mark II digital SLR cameras, which are pretty standard that lots of tourists and people use. They weren't modified and we didn't have special equipment...We had two camera operators usually shooting the scenes, we tried to limit our takes to about four if we were in a heavily populated area. We had shotlists on our phones, we has scripts on our phones, and everything was planned to the minute because we were also chasing the sun...It was sort of like a vacation on steroids. At one point the kids got so tired from walking that we rented them wheelchairs."

On a time he thought they were going to get caught: 
"Towards the very end of our Anaheim shoot there was a moment where we were shooting this scene...where the family enters through the turnstiles. Security personnel came over and started talking to them and asked them why they kept exiting and returning, because we had to get multiple shots of them. Then they asked if they were a celebrity couple. They didn't understand why they had paparazzi following them.

"Security started to get a little more suspicious so they pulled them aside and said, 'Wait here,' but at that moment the kids said they needed to go to the bathroom. When they came back, luckily, as happens quite often in Disneyland, a parade was coming by. My lead actress likes to say they just paraded on out of there."