About the PARODY
- a director's note
"Thomas and the Magic Railroad is a 2000 theatrical film based on the television show, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, and its American spin-off, Shining Time Station." That sentence is usually the first thing most people see when researching the original feature of which our new film is directly based on. However, it is not what springs into my mind.
The bizarre adventure was a creation of circumstances. The late and great Reverend Wilbert Awdry did not approve of the various attempts made to alter his original children's books to become more marketable by Britt Allcroft, the businesswoman-turned-storyteller who bought the rights to adapt his beloved characters and their world in the late 1970s. The international phenomenon that was Thomas quickly spread out of control, and once Awdry's passing in 1997 had been fully mourned by those who knew the Reverend, it was time for Allcroft's Thomas to go into full overdrive. Now, I don't believe that Allcroft was unreasonable in her desire to make Awdry's creation her own. I just don't think her choices were the right ones to make at the time. Imagine that you are given complete free reign to write and direct a feature film about a beloved children's icon, despite the fact that you have never written anything even remotely on that scale before. Would you honestly expect her to get it right? Would you honestly expect her to know how Awdry's characters spoke, or how the grounded world of the Island of Sodor that she had been handed actually functioned? Of course not, she was a business woman, not Peter Jackson! Allcroft was a force that, while caring very deeply for Awdry's creation, was also interested in selling Diesel 10 toys in Subway Kids' Meals. It's as simple as that. The original film she wrote was a monstrosity of bizarre and confusing situations, and I should know. I have both publicly released drafts of Magic Railroad engrained into my skull, as I'm sure my co-producers can confirm. Long before she was forced to re-edit her dark and confusing children's fantasy "epic" into something nearly unrecognizable following a horrible test screening of overactive toddlers and their disapproving mothers, the movie was doomed. There's no easier way to put it. Allcroft had her heart in the right place, but should have remained a consultant, not the creative driving force of a star-studded, multi-million dollar, visual effects Goliath that ended up destroyed the brand, the company, and her career. And it is THIS, this combination of bizarre story elements, misguided power, and fanboy-fantasizes, that lead me down the path of making my own Magic Railroad. Not just for the fans, but for me. I love the original in the same way that James Franco loves Tommy Wiseau's The Room. It's just such a wonderful disappointment that you can't help thinking to yourself upon watching it - "Man, these characters must have been on drugs to say shit like this." But, what if they were?
The film you have been reading about has taken nearly 4 years of my life to produce. But it didn't start as a film...
STAY TUNED FOR THE ENTIRE BEHIND THE SCENES STORY, THIS AUGUST!
- Vinnie Smith,
Director, Writer, Editor of The Magic Railroad Parody (2020)