The Blu-ray for Mission: Impossibe – Ghost Protocol comes fully loaded with a ton of behind-the-scenes material, mini-documentaries digging into the nitty gritty behind every stunt, special effect and spectacular sequence. An unfathomable amount of people went into the making of the movie, which shot in locations across the globe, but was coordinated with expert precision enabling Tom Cruise, director Brad Bird and the rest of the IMF team to show up on set and get down to business. Ghost Protocol moved like clockwork, no matter the scale of the task.
But for all the car crashing, building scaling and sandstorm outrunning, one of the most fulfilling, pull-back-the-curtain moments on the disc comes when Bird and his tech crew are 10,000 feet in the air, on their way to Dubai. Bird, filming with his iPhone, gives a shout out to “Steve” — aka Steve Jobs, his colleague at Pixar — and pans to show every person on the plane working steadily on their iPads. As Bird suggests, the infamous Apple tablet has become a keystone of their filmmaking process and Jobs would be happy to see it. It’s a bittersweet moment; Jobs was alive for Ghost Protocol’s production, but who passed before it hit theaters. Keeping the footage in the featurette becomes a fitting tribute.
I recently sat down with Brad Bird to discuss the fourth Mission: Impossible, and while conversation stuck mostly to the mammoth action production, the intimate moment on the airplane struck me enough to ask Bird for reflection.
“He meant a great deal to me, both before I met him and I got to know him pretty well at Pixar. He was around a lot for the two films I made while I was there. And I just think he was a guy who was focused on quality and drove hard for it. I think, basically, he went from the gut and to have both technical vision and gut instinct is a very rare combination. The thing that was amazing to me about Pixar is that you’re lucky if you get to work for one genius, and here was a rare, rare perfect storm where I had three geniuses I was working for, and they all got together. So I look very fondly of that time. I’ll miss Steve.”
It’s clear Bird’s strong relationship with Pixar and Steve Jobs (who acquired the company in 1986) gave the director the freedom he needed to wow the likes of Cruise, and it seems that, even as he progresses into the realm of live-action, he isn’t leaving the crack team of animators behind. “I still do work with [Pixar]. I go in and consult and meet on films that are being made. I was there a few weeks ago. Last week. I would love to make another film with them.”