Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Additional Henry Selick Interview

We've got some more interview with The Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick here. In this detailed Q&A, Selick discusses difficult and challenging scenes to animate, whether Walt would've approved of his macabre holiday treat, and the possibilities of returning to Halloween Town, among other topics.

Do you find it ironic that Nightmare has become a Disney property when it was originally released as a Touchstone Picture? When did you start seeing the shift with Disney embracing the film?

Henry Selick: "Yes. Nightmare was just too different from what Disney was having success with. Although I don't think Walt Disney himself would have had a problem with it being labeled a Disney film. Just check out some of the sequences from Fantasia, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ward Kimball's goons and monsters in Sleeping Beauty etc. and you'll see Nightmare and its characters were carrying on in the same tradition. While it took some time, about 7 years ago when the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland was transformed into a Nightmare extravaganza, we then felt we were truly loved by the Disney label."

Who is your personal favorite character in Nightmare Before Christmas?

Henry Selick: "The one I'm closest to is Jack Skellington because, as a director, you often have to act out various characters for your animators. Since I resemble Jack Skellington more than the other characters, I think more of my gestures got into Jack."

Was there resistance at first to do Nightmare as stop-motion instead of cel animation?

Henry Selick: "There was resistance to doing it at all at first. When Tim first pitched it to Disney in the early 1980s, there was resistance to the project in any medium. But 10 years later when the film was made, there was never an issue about it being stop-motion. It was simply a case of that is how Tim conceived it."

How early in the process was Oogie Boogie developed?

Henry Selick: "Oogie started out as the size of a pillowcase and not that scary or evil or important, but as the story developed I felt the need to grow him in both his scale and his role. Ultimately, Danny Elfman's Oogie Boogie song is what truly defined his character as the villain and Jack's role was fully defined as a misguided hero."

How difficult was it to do the Oogie Boogie sequence? With all the neon, it seems like it was one of the more complicated set pieces in the film. If not, what was the most difficult sequence to achieve?

Henry Selick: "It was not the neon that was difficult. It was Oogie Boogie himself. He was a huge puppet, very difficult to muscle around. It was almost as if he was trying to push back while you were animating him."

Was there a character created for Nightmare that you loved that never made it past the conceptual stage?

Henry Selick: "No, we were desperate to flesh out the town. After you go through the mummy and vampires etc it gets slim. We used everything we came up with."

What was the most intricate scene to complete?

Henry Selick: "While virtually every bit of the stop-motion animation was challenging, there were several particularly difficult scenes to pull off. One began where Jack is shot out of the sky with his Skellington reindeer flying over head and being shot down and lands in the arms of the angel statue in a graveyard and goes on to sing a song there while the camera continuously circles him. The opening song of the film This is Halloween was monstrously challenging as it introduced all the Halloween Town monsters to the audience."

Have you ever considered returning to the world of Nightmare Before Christmas?

Henry Selick: "There has been discussions over the years about a possible sequel. When those discussions came up about 7 years ago, it was unsettling that it was suggested this time it would have to be done in CG. I'm glad that did not happen. But as far as coming up ideas for a sequel, you have to admit there are a lot of other great holidays for Jack Skellington to take over."

What was the biggest lesson you carried away from the Nightmare Before Christmas experience?

Henry Selick: "When possible always work with geniuses like Tim Burton who are not only creatively inspiring, but in his case also have the clout to protect the film from the studio system."

You can read the full interview here.

New "Nightmare" DVD Available Today!

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is back and restored sharper than ever before, now on a brand-new 2-disc DVD, Blu-ray, and a 2-disc DVD in an Ultimate Collector's set. They're packed with all-new bonus features and a Disney Digital copy of the film, too. Check it out!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mia Wasikowska Set for "Alice"

After being in talks with Disney, it appears that 18-year-old Mia Wasikowska is officially set to play Alice in the upcoming Alice in Wonderland.

"I'm so so excited. The book's really intrigued me when I was little and I've always loved the story," she said.

The young actress also expressed enthusiasm for being able to work with director Tim Burton. She stated that she admired his films. "I really love Edward Scissorhands and Big Fish," she said.

Rumors are still abound online claiming that Johnny Depp will be the Mad Hatter. But Wasikowska said that, at the moment, she is the only person who has officially been cast.

Filming begins next month.

Happy 50th Birthday, Tim Burton!!

Filmmaker Tim Burton is 50 years old today. Feel free to post your birthday wishes and comments here!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Historic House to Be Set in "Wonderland"

Antony House

The historic Antony House is reported to be one of the shooting locations for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.

The National Trust property, situated in Torpoint, Cornwall, will be closed to the public from September 1st until October 14th to allow filming to take place. The Antony House, an early 18th-century mansion, features a garden and a Woodland Garden.

Rebecca Miller, National Trust house and visitor services manager for Antony said: "We are absolutely over the moon that Antony has been chosen as a location for Tim Burton's new film Alice in Wonderland.

"One of the reasons it was chosen was because it's a hidden gem – it's one of the Trust's lesser known properties and they felt this fitted in very well with the feel of the film."

Harvey Edgington, the National Trust's broadcast media liaison officer added: "The National Trust happily provides locations when possible, to a variety of films, TV dramas, documentaries and commercials.

"Clearly there is a direct financial benefit to the Trust, a charity where four out of five properties run at a loss every year due to conservation demands.

"Alice in Wonderland will not only help raise funds for the ongoing conservation work needed at Antony, but will also contribute to the local economy by having the crew on location."

A spokesman for the casting agents, Mad Dog Casting Ltd, said the other filming locations were being kept "top secret".

"The extras will not be told where they are filming until the night before the shoot," the spokesman added.

About 3,000 people came to the New Continental Hotel in Plymouth to audition for the film as extras. Males were told via text message whether they we accepted on this past Thursday and Friday. Female hopefuls will be informed on a later date.

Ultimately, 250 extras will be chosen for the Victorian era look of the film, along with three dogs (a common theme in Tim Burton's films).

Henry Selick Talks "The Nightmare Before Christmas"

Henry Selick and Tim Burton

Celebrating the 15th anniversary of The Nightmare Before Christmas, has a brand new interview with director Henry Selick online. In it, Selick discusses working with Tim Burton, the making of Nightmare, his upcoming film Coraline, and much more. The entire interview is below:

Does a film like Nightmare naturally looking amazing in high def or does the translation and remastering take a lot of work?

Henry Selick: The fact is the film was originally shot in 35mm film, each image is pristine with no blur, so the source material is already high def , more so than a standard film, so the mastering is less of a challenge.

The DVD already makes the animation look so clear. What new details will we notice in Blu-Ray?

Henry Selick: Some of the details that may become apparent in Blu-ray are that we tried to add texture to all the characters and backgrounds as if they were an engraving, for example you'll see that Jack's stripes on his suit are hand drawn, and the hills behind also have hand made textures built into them. Additional details would be things like the leaves rhat Sallie is stuffed with, the bugs inside Oogie Boogie. Look into the shadow areas, there are hidden details there that have never shown up on previous DVD but will show up on the Blu-ray.

As a kid I was mesmerized by the old 7th voyage of Sinbad (Ray) Harryhausen film. What stop-motion film got you as a kid and inspired your career path?

Henry Selick: The early Harryhausen, Jason and the Argonauts in particular. I also love the Seventh Voyage, the best cyclops that will ever be done. There was just this wonderful sense that Harryhausen's monsters were real, despite the sort of lurching quality they had, they had an undeniable reality to them.

I read it took over three years of your life, and involved a small army of ILM artists, can you share with fans just how labor intensive this was for you, and what was the hardest element in finishing the film? Also, did you use any other effects houses than ILM?

Henry Selick: ILM are the ones who did the 3D adaption, not the original film. We hired several ILM veterans to work on the original film however. Virtually all animation is labor intensive, since it was what I do it did not seem any harder than others. The small army topped out at under 200 people. Because the range of talents and abilities, there was always something amazing and wonderful to see virtually every day, so that the long journey of production was reinspired regularly. We used Disney's fledgling effects unit in Burbank and they created the very simple snow that falls at the end of the film. Other than that it was all pretty much done by hand in house.

Has it surprised you how much Nightmare has been absorbed into the pop culture stratosphere -- goth kids at Hot Topic wearing Jack belts and arm bands and the like?

Henry Selick: At this point, 15 years later after the original release, I've grown used to seeing Jack and Sallie turn up all over the place. But this did not happen right away it has taken years for our initial cult audience to grow into a pop culture phenomenon. Just this past Halloween, we had some girls show up at the house in NBChristmas costumes and my wife and I pointed out one of the original Jack Skellington and the Skellington Reindeer which was in our office, it blew their minds and they screamed with joy, taking their handfuls of candy and went away just full of life.

What is it about stop-motion that originally captured your attention?

Henry Selick: I love all sorts of animation, probably the most beautiful would be the tradtional hand drawn animation that Disney is known for. Stop-motion has a certain "grittieness" and is filled with imperfections, and yet their is an undeniable truth, that what you see really exits, even it if is posed by hand, 24 times a second. This truth is what I find most attractive about stop-motion animation.

What was the biggest lesson you carried away from the The Nightmare Before Christmas experience?

Henry Selick: When possible always work with geniuses like Tim Burton, who are not only creatively inspiring but in his case, also have the clout to protect the film from the studio system.

How was your working relationship with Tim Burton?

Henry Selick: Working with Tim was great, he came up with a brilliant idea, designed the main characters, fleshed out the story, got Danny Elfman to write a bunch of great songs. He got the project on its feet and then stood back and watched us fly with it. Tim, who made two live-action features in L.A. while we were in San Francisco making Nightmare, was kept in the loop throughout the process, reviewing storyboards and animation. When we completed the film Tim came in with his editor Chris [Lebenzon] to pace up the film and make a particular story adjust to make Lock, Shock, and Barrel just a touch nicer.

How did you originally come on board to this project?

Henry Selick: I was working with Tim at Disney in the early 1980s when he first conceived the poem and idea of Jack Skellingon taking over Christmas. Sculptor Rick Heinrichs took the original characters designed by Tim: Jack, Zero and Sandy Claws and created beautiful maquettes that showed what they'd be like as stop motion characters. It was originally pitched to Disney as a TV special but was rejected. I had moved to Northern California where I worked as storyboard artist and a stop motion filmmaker with short flims, TV commericals and MTV. While Tim went on to achieve great success in live action. I got a call from Rick and he said there was something important we must talk about in person. He flew to San Francisco and said Tim is making The Nightmare Before Christmas and wants you to direct it. I met with Tim and Danny Elfman and my small crew that I had been working with immediately became supervisors on a feature film.

How is the directing process on a stop-motion film different from directing live-action or even regular animation?

Henry Selick: Directing stop motion animation is actually a sort of combination of directing live action and 'regular' animation. We have real sets, real lights, real cameras. There is a costume department, a hair department and our puppets are the actors. Like regular animation it is a divide and conquer. It is all divided up into manageable pieces, edited in storyboards before the movie is made and then shot a frame a time like traditional animation.

What is the next step in stop-motion technology? We've read about the new stereoscopic dual digital camera rig you're using on Coraline. How will the end result be different from The Nightmare Before Christmas?

Henry Selick: Shooting stereoscopically just gives you more of what is there, just a little more sense of the reality of this medium, it does not live in the computer nor is it a series of drawings, it's an actual real set and puppets.

What major changes have occurred in this kind of filmmaking in the time between The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline?

Henry Selick: Mainly it is the ability to capture images in a computer while you shoot. When we did Nightmare we could capture 2 images total. Now you can shoot the whole scene and play it back while you animate. This assists the animator but actually slows down the process because they keep checking it every time they shoot a new frame. Computers have slowed down what is already a time consuming process.

How would you compare adapting Neil Gaiman in Coraline with adapting Tim Burton's designs on Nightmare?

Henry Selick: I think that both Tim and Neil are extremely imaginative and real creators. In Tim's case he is a visual artist so the look of the film came from his sensibilities. Neil is not a visual artist, so I created the visual look of Coraline, but as far as sensibilities, I think there is a little more whimsy in Tim's work, a little more sweet with the sours, comfort with the scary, but I'd probaly exclude Sweeney Todd. Neil goes a little more darker, primal like a Grimms fairytale.

How many of the original puppets do you have in your house?

Henry Selick: The main one I have is Jack Skelligton as Santa with his Skeleton Reindeer in his sled led by Zero. It is prominently displayed in my office where occasional trick or treaters get let IF they are wearing The Nightmare Before Christmas attire.

The Nightmare Before Christmas comes back to DVD in a Collector's Edition, Ultimate Collector's Edition and Blu-Ray edition on August 26.

"Nightmare" DVD Preview Videos

In recognition of the new special collector's edition DVD release of The Nightmare Before Christmas, available next week, a few video clips are available online for your viewing. has a video clip featuring footage of the voice actors behind the film. In it, Ken Page demonstrates his tremendous voice while playing the part of Oogie Boogie, and Danny Elfman and Catherine O'hara (who provided the voices for Sally and Lock) work together. has three more videos to view. The first is a preview of Jack's Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour and the making of the Disney ride. The second clip, entitled "The Process," focuses on the methods of shooting and animating the film, as told by director Henry Selick and crew members. And the third clip is an animated excerpt of Tim Burton's original poem that inspired the film, narrated by cinema legend Christopher Lee.

Friday, August 08, 2008

New "Nightmare" DVD Pictures now has full information on the upcoming special collector's editions of The Nightmare Before Christmas as well as pictures. Click the highlighted links to be directed to the pages for the following products.

The 2-Disc standard DVD:

The Blu-ray version

The Ultimate Collector's DVD Set with the talking Jack Skellington bust

Each version will be packed with bonus features and will come with a digital copy of the film.

These items will be available in North America on Tuesday, August 26th, 2008.

New "Nightmare" Covers CD reports that a new CD featuring covers of all of the tracks from the soundtrack of The Nightmare Before Christmas will be released on September 30th, in recognition of the film's 15th anniversary. Like the previous soundtrack release, this will feature Marilyn Manson's cover of "This is Halloween." But nearly all of the other tracks on the album will be new recordings by other groups. The two tracks with Danny Elfman's name beside them will be re-recordings by the composer himself.

Here is the complete track listing:

1. Overture – DeVotchka
2. Opening – Danny Elfman
3. This Is Halloween – Marilyn Manson
4. Jack's Lament – All American Rejects
5. Doctor Finkelstein/In The Forest – Amiina
6. What's This? - Flyleaf
7. Town Meeting Song – Polyphonic Spree
8. Jack And Sally Montage – The Vitamin String Quartet
9. Jack's Obsession - Sparklehorse
10. Kidnap The Sandy Claws - Korn
11. Making Christmas – Rise Against
12. Nabbed – Yoshida Brothers
13. Sally's Song – Amy Lee
14. Christmas Eve Montage – RJD2
15. Poor Jack – Plain White Ts
16. To The Rescue – Datarock
17. Finale/Reprise – Shiny Toy Guns
18. Closing – Danny Elfman
19. End Title – The Album Leaf
20. Oogie Boogie’s Song – Rodrigo y Gabriela

The trailer of the film will be a bonus feature on the CD.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Court Has Decided...

E! Online says that a California appellate court tossed Lisa Marie's fraud lawsuit against her former boyfriend Tim Burton after determining that a Los Angeles judge was wrong in denying Burton's motion to dismiss and setting a trial date.

"Mr. Burton said he was happy to to put this chapter of his life behind him," said the filmmaker's attorney, Joseph Mannis.

The article went on to say that while L.A. Superior Court Judge Teresa Sanchez-Gordon had ruled that the matter of whether the director and Lisa Maria had a verbal agreement supporting her claim was an issue for a jury, Mannis argued that it didn't matter—the former model had already signed a settlement giving her $5.5 million and releasing Burton from further financial obligation.

In her complaint, which was filed in 2006, Lisa Marie claimed she was duped into signing that agreement in 2001.

Burton countersued last September to obtain a court order binding her to the 2001 deal. His attorney says that they're still planning to move forward with the suit to get that assurance and try to recoup legal fees.

"Mr. Burton believes he has been put through a long and difficult proceeding at great cost, and he intends to do the just thing," Mannis said.

Baby's Name OFFICIALLY Revealed

After months of speculation and rumors, Helena Bonham Carter has officially announced the name of her and Tim Burton's seven-month-old daughter: Nell.

Bonham Carter said that they named her after "all the Helens in the family." The actress's mother is named Elena and her grandmother was called Helene.

In response to Internet rumors, a friend of the family stated that the baby "was never going to be Indiana Rose."

Nell and her mother. (Photo by: Ramey Photo)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hundreds Gather for Big-Screen Debut in "Wonderland"

Casting director Ilenka Jelowicki and her crew are looking for 250 extras for the forthcoming Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland. Not surprisingly, hundreds of hopefuls gathered on Wednesday, August 6th, and endured hours in a long line and the pouring rain in Plymouth, England, long before Ms. Jelowicki and the casting agents began looking at potential cast members at 10:00 am at the New Continental Hotel.

25-year-old musician and actor Andrew Lessiter, a citizen of Plymouth, was the first to arrive for auditions -- at 2:00 am.

"I'm a real film buff and just to be involved in any way in a Tim Burton film would be a huge honor," said Lessiter.

Claire Trigger: "I'd make a good card, but I'd even lay on the floor
and play a dead rabbit if they asked me."

Hopeful people ranged from age 16 to well past 70, and ranged from school teachers, drama students, engineers, decorators, shop assistants, phlebotomists, and grandmothers, to name a few.

But despite their star-struck enthusiasm, Ilenka Jelowicki warned that it isn't all fun and games on a movie set. "When you get local people involved, they really give a lot of effort to the picture and their enthusiasm really counts," she said. "But it can be a long day being on set for 12 to 14 hours a day."

Nik Brookson arrived in Victorian era costume.

Plenty more hopefuls will arrive tomorrow for a chance to be in the phantasmagorical movie.

Filming begins in Plymouth next month.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Casting and Location Scouts in Plymouth Next Week

While the film's title was not officially announced, it appears that a certain Disney cinematic adaptation of a certain Lewis Carroll novel will be at least partially filmed in a certain South West England city called Plymouth, a certain news agency called the BBC News stated. In addition to looking for prime Victorian era shooting locations, the casting director of Alice in Wonderland (crap!--wasn't meant to say that!), Ilenka Jelowicki, said that casting agents are looking for people to be extras in the fantasy film, which will apparently be directed by a certain Tim Burton.

Auditions will take place at the New Continental Hotel in Plymouth, on Wednesday, August 6th and Thursday, August 7th, between 10 am and 6 pm. Eventually, the casting agents will select 250 extras, who will be paid.

Ms. Jelowicki went into more detail: "We are looking for people above the age of 16 who have naturally coloured hair.

"We would prefer girls with long hair and men with natural styles. Extras will get to dress up in Victorian period costume, corsets and wigs and will have their make-up done.

"We would also like people whose work allows the flexibility of two weeks' worth of filming."

Locations for filming are being tightly kept under-wraps, but Plymouth clearly drew appeal to the filmmakers for its notable Victorian era look and aesthetics. Shooting will take place in the city in September for two weeks. has announced that Alice will be released in theaters on March 5th, 2010.

In related news, websites across the Internet still can't stop yammering about a rumor that Johnny Depp will be playing the Mad Hatter, despite the fact that there is no official or credible source to take account for this claim. We will have to wait to see if this is true or not. However, we do know that Mia Wasikowska is in talks with Disney to play the lead role of Alice.