Director Brad Bird has been working on trying to develop a film project based around the great San Fransisco earthquake. It’s called 1906 and it was supposed to be Bird's fist live-action feature film. Instead, he got sidetracked and went on to direct Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland.
The filmmaker, who recently helmed Incredibles 2, gave an update on the project which he’s been trying to get into production since 2007. Now he’s looking at developing the project as a film and a TV series because there’s so much story to tell.
While talking about 1906 on the Variety podcast Playback, Bird explains his big ideas for the project, saying:
“It wants to be a longer story. It’s a really fascinating moment in history. Prior to the earthquake, San Francisco is this really happening city that’s somewhere between the Old West and the 20th Century. I mean, they still had bars where people were getting Shanghai’d—getting slipped Mickey Finns and you would wake up on a boat and if you didn’t work the boat, you’d be thrown overboard. So that was still happening and the people who owned those kinds of bars were in the California legislature. In other words, it was somewhere between the Wild West and the sophisticated city San Francisco would like to see itself as, and was in many ways.”
The story that Bird wants to tell is just too big to fit in a single movie. So he wants to expand on the story in a way that TV can do, but at the same time, he doesn't want to lose the epic scope of the big screen experience. So, he is thinking of doing both.
"It’s this fascinating moment in history where gaslight and electric light were co-existing, and cars and horses were co-existing. Getting it in a movie-sized box, it’s too big a story for. If you do it for TV you’re missing the scale of motion pictures, so I keep trying to get it to kind of straddle these two worlds."
The director goes on to reveal his idea of telling the earthquake portion of the story as a feature film, and then expand on all the other elements of the story as a TV series:
“I love the movie experience and I would want the earthquake to be on a movie screen and yet I recognize that the story’s too [big], so I’m kind of trying to get it done as an amalgam and people are kind of intrigued by it. Warners wants to do the earthquake part of it as a movie, and we just can’t get it all under one roof. But I’m still fascinated by the story. To be continued. I’m still interested in it but I want it to be done in a way that embraces all the possibilities and yet somehow stays near or part of it or something on the big screen, so we’ll see what happens.”
Nothing is set in stone at the moment. Bird is still just working on how to tackle this story, but I do like his idea though! I think his plan could work out great. It seems like the perfect compromise that would allow him to be able to fully tell the story that he wants to tell.
The film is based on the novel by James Dalessandro, and here's the description of the story:
James Dalessandro's "riveting account of corruption, greed, and murder in the City by the Bay" Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning historical novel reveals recently uncovered facts that forever change our understanding of what really happened. Narrated by a feisty young reporter, Annalisa Passarelli, the novel paints a vivid picture of the Post-Victorian city, from the mansions of Nob Hill to the underbelly of the Barbary Coast to the arrival of tenor Enrico Carusoand the Metropolitan Opera. Central to the story is the ongoing battle fought even as the city burns that pits incompetent and unscrupulous politicians against a coalition of honest police officers, newspaper editors, citizens, and a lone federal prosecutor.James Dalessandro weaves unforgettable characters and actual events into a compelling epic.