Pardon Our Pixie Dust: Revealing the grimmer sides of "the happiest place on Earth," Disneyland
The 12-minute documentary that throws light upon the fact that Disneyland’s shareholders are exploiting not just the public, but their employees
Disneyland is sort of a wonderland for kids and adults alike; but just as every coin has two sides, Disneyland too has a darker and grimmer side behind the bright, shiny surface that greets visitors.
'Pardon Our Pixie Dust' is a 12-minute documentary that throws light upon the fact that Disneyland’s shareholders are exploiting not just the public, but their employees. Director Matthew Serrano's documentary is a bid to let people around the globe know what goes on to bring the amusement into being and and the behind-the-scene workings to seep them running so that they can make an informed decision before they shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars of their hard earned money for Mickey and company.
The film is basically a revelation by people who love Disney but who are trying to make them pay their fair share to the city of Anaheim to whom they pay no tax but from whom they leach services; and their employees who are paid inadequately compared to the large proportion of work the staff does.
Most of these staff members are rendered homeless. "After interviewing Wesley Jones and hearing what he had to say, my crew and I realized that there was so much going on in Anaheim that we had no idea about. What most impacted me was hearing that there are homeless castmembers. As a massive fan and regular parkgoer, I was heartbroken by the fact that in the park there are workers making magic for guests who are going to sleep every night in tents along the Santa Ana riverbed. We also realized that these are all things that even the citizens of Anaheim are not fully aware of yet, which we hope to change," says director Serrono.
Wesley Jones is a 66-year-old citizen of Anaheim featured in the documentary, who has closely looked into the rising homelessness in Anaheim and the impact of Disney's low payment standards. The makers of the documentary hope that the revelations in them will make people think twice before setting foot into Disneyland ever again.
All kudos to the director Serrano who made Disney’s skeletons tumble out of the closet, by exposing corporate greed on a colossal level. Serrano has fashioned the film in such a way that visitors are bound to think twice why despite not paying taxes Disney is charging exorbitantly and paying so little to its employees.
The best part about the documentary is that it isn’t derogatory or mean-spirited. Most of the people interviewed love the amusement park but detest the people running the show.
In fact, the title of the movie itself is representative of the ugly side of the beloved amusement park that continues to be hidden from the world. Serrano explains, "'Pardon Our Pixie Dust' is taken directly from inside the parks. When theres a construction project underway inside of the parks, Disney puts up work walls that say "Pardon Our Pixie Dust" all around the construction so that they can block peoples view of what could be perceived as the "ugly side of magic making". I thought that this could be used in our case as well, seeing that Disney has been always trying to block out how the "magic" gets made from the publics eye (especially in this case when it involves the things that we show in our documentary).
The coverage and cataloging of each interview and revelation of facts is quite scrupulously done, making sure that they are hard-hitting without being too accusing in tone.
Though the quality of the picture throughout the documentary was grainy and a bit unclear, the message the director wished to deliver was accomplished well. The usage of background scores is lesser than usual, especially during the interviews.
However, on the brighter side to this, the music doesn’t get in the way of the dialog. One particular element of the video is that they respect the privacy of the interviewee and when required don’t exactly feature them in the documentary.
The documentary should be seen and circulated around. Though this film is likely to change one’s impression about Disneyland around the world, but the level of awareness it creates among people might be a driving force to push Disney to improve the quality of living for their workers.
Serrano, who tried his best to reach out to Disney ample number of times, said, “Disney has yet to reach out to us in anyway, which believe it or not really disappoints me. One thing I really want is for Disney to have a voice in my Documentary and to share their side of the story. After all, one of the reasons why we made the film so anti-Disney is because of the fact that we needed to show what footage we had and we lacked their side of the story. We've reached out to Disney numerous times who told us once over a phone call that they would love to have someone speak in our doc and then completely ignored us after the fact. So if anyone from Disney is reading this please talk to us!”
'Pardon our Pixie Dust' had its world premiere at the Dances With Films film festival on Monday, June 11.