Bridge to the Future Frequently Asked Questions
What is Bridge to the Future?
Bridge to the Future is a 20 minute promotional film released in 1951 by Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
It is the fictional story of Bob Lansford as he visits WPI, becomes a student, gets a loyal girlfriend, graduates, and then nearly jumps off a bridge. It is narrated by one of the characters who claims to be a WPI graduate, often repeats himself, doesn't reveal his name, and often repeats himself.
Isn't there another Bridge to the Future?
Yes. In early 1996, a group of talented WPI students (with the assistance of WPI's Instructional Media Center facilities) created another version of Bridge to the Future in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000. They are seen sitting in front of the original Bridge to the Future; throwing comments at the screen and giving the film the treatment it has needed for 45 years.
Who made the old version?
It was produced by Bay State Film Productions, Inc. for WPI. We cannot find any records for Bay State Film Productions.
Other than that, no credits are given. However, in the February 1998 issue of The Wire @ WPI (Volume 11, No. 3), Mary R. Hayward wrote in and provided the real names of Bob and Betty. Her husband, Robert P. Hayward, played the part of "Bob Lansford" just before his graduation in 1950. "Betty" was played by Mary Givens.
The original version was also one of the first films that WPI's Lens and Lights Club ever projected. (Note the LnL joke in the 1996 version.)
The original Bridge to the Future was originally on 16mm film. When it was unearthed a few years ago, there was no perfect copy. The good parts of each copy had to be spliced together. The title credits are out of focus because that was the best copy available.
How do you know it's from 1951?
We don't know for sure. Robert P. Hayward (aka "Bob") graduated in 1950, so those scenes had to be shot in early 1950. However, during the football game the class of 1954 has their year proudly promoted on the side of a hill. Since the class of 1954 didn't enter WPI until the fall of 1950, that places the film around late 1950 or early 1951.
Other things on campus, most notably the student center (aka "Riley House") help to date the film's release to 1951...but we could be wrong.
Who made the new version?
The credits from the end of the new version are available online. It was shot in WPI's Instructional Media Center Television Classroom and Studio using advanced video production technology.
How can I see Bridge to the Future?
Bridge to the Future premiered at 11:30am on March 30, 1996 before a showing of the Back to the Future trilogy. It was shown three times that day in WPI's Perreault Hall. It can be found on WPI's private cable TV network from time to time. It has also been shown during such WPI events as Alden Movie Night.
It premiered at a showing of the Back to the Future trilogy? Nice planning!
It was just dumb luck. When the new Bridge to the Future was created, it wasn't known that the Back to the Future trilogy was going to be shown. The people in Lens and Lights who decided on Back to the Future also had no knowledge of the new Bridge to the Future. In fact, the first time they got to see it was during the premiere.
It's just a coincidence that there's a joke at the beginning that refers to Christopher Lloyd and Back to the Future.
Has anyone at Best Brains, Inc., the creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000, seen either version of Bridge to the Future?
No. It's now impossible for the original version of Bridge to the Future to be done on MST3K. MST3K was cancelled and aired its last final episode in 1999.
Best Brains had no choice but to refuse to watch the 1996 version of Bridge to the Future because of all the legal problems that would arise if they ever used a BttF joke on MST3K. Now there's really no point for them to watch it since the cast and crew have moved on to other projects. ...and who wouldn't, with a gal like Betty?
Will any more MST3K-type movies be made by these people?
Unlikely. They've moved on, moved away, and are fairly out-of-touch with each other.
Several of the writers did screen other short films (such as the recruitment videos for St. Michael's College and Raytheon), but the writers say none of them have the potential they found in Bridge to the Future.
It's been a while since Bridge to the Future was released. Where are they now?
- Robert P. Hayward '50 "Bob Lansford"
Bob enjoyed his retired life in Seattle with his wife, Mary. Bob enjoyed skiing and boating. He was very active in volunteering for his community and church, plus at various Christian facilities as he and Mary traveled the country in their RV.
In 1997, Bob was reported to be in excellent health, "although his hair has greyed and thinned a bit."
When seeing his face in The Wire @ WPI in November of 1997, he thought it "no big deal." He has a 16mm copy of the original film which he has shown to the amusement of two of his grandsons.
Sadly, Bob passed away on May 14, 2012. An obituary was published in The Seattle Times on June 10, 2012.
- Mary Givens "Betty"
No information is available. Since WPI did not admit women until the 1960's, Mary is not a WPI graduate.
- "The Narrator"
No information is available at all. Who the heck is this guy?
- Patrick Delahanty '95 "Pat"/writer
Patrick is currently in California working for TWiT.tv and is one of the founders of Anime Boston. When he's not slaving away at work for pennies a day, he's probably watching movies or anime...or updating his web sites (like AnimeCons.com).
- Tim Lewis '95 director/writer
Tim is an software engineer and enjoys "doing stuff". Last we heard, Tim currently resided in the rolling hills of North Attleboro, Massachusetts with Sarah...the only woman who can put up with his fart jokes.
- John Fournier '96 "John"/writer
John married fellow WPI grad, Stephanie Pero in May 1998. Last we heard, he and his wife live in the countryside of South Burlington, Vermont. John is a valued employee of a very large, three-letter, computer manufacturer.
- Kyle Warren '96 "Kyle"/writer
Last we heard, Kyle was the currently the host of "A Tasteful Blend", a popular Saturday morning jazz show, on WICN 90.5 FM and has been the emcee at several WPI concerts. As far as we know, he still resides in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
- Doug Thompson '78 producer
Doug has left WPI and his current whereabouts are unknown. Doug, if you're out there, drop us a line!
Information Provided by:
Patrick Delahanty, Doug Thompson, Mary R. Hayward, The Wire @ WPI (Vol. 11, No. 3), Tim Lewis, John Fournier, Kyle Warren, WPI Lens and Lights, Amy Marr, Mike Nelson, Mary Jo Pehl, and a gal like Betty.