Sunday, August 30, 2009

Motion Capture Stunt Choreography in "Wonderland" has an interview with stunt choreographer Garrett Warren. Warren has worked on numerous new and upcoming motion capture films, including Alice in Wonderland. Click this link for the full interview, in which Warren discusses other movies including Tintin and Avatar, but you can read the Alice-related excerpts below:

I'm wondering how coordinating stunts for a live-action film differs from motion capture?

The difference is that you have to have just a little bit more imagination when you have motion capture. You have to make believe you’re in an elevator, or something is a dragon, or a house. In live action, we’d actually have the horse, or build a mock-up of a dragon, or put the actors in an elevator. We still perform an awful lot of hard action sequences, but they don’t necessarily take place at an actual location. We just put down a box, and have the person jump off of that, and that can be jumping off the roof of a building.

But why take the risk of putting someone in harm’s way if you could just recreate that in a computer?

One of the things that we've always found is that no matter how hard you try to create something in a computer, it never carries the same kind of acting, the same kind of weight or movement as if you do it in real time. Watching a person fall for real and watching an animator make a person fall are two completely different looks. Not to mention that a lot of the actors we’ve used in motion capture filming prefer to have that organic feeling. They want to be part of that action sequence, so they can give you that performance that they would have given if it was real.

Who are some of the actors who insist on doing their own stunts, and what’s your reaction when they tell you that?

You know, I've always had most lead actors and actresses say they’d like to do as many of their stunts as possible. One person in particular, Seth Green, wanted to do every stunt possible he could do on Mars Needs Moms!, and he did. He did about 90% of it.

But then you get to a movie like Alice in Wonderland, and Johnny Depp says, "I only really want to do the stunts that are necessary for me. Anything that you don’t need to see me in, I prefer to let the stunt double do it." Those are the kinds of stunts — where you'll be falling down some stairs, or falling off a chair — that while they might not seem like big stunts, they hurt your actor. And that sets you back production-wise. It’s always good to see someone who is professional who thinks ahead and realizes that it's not a big deal to see someone fall on the ground.

Garrett Warren is the winner of the Stunt Choreographer of the Year award from the 2009 Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Interview with "9" Composer Deborah Lurie has an audio interview with Deborah Lurie. She talks about composing the score for 9, her collaborations with Danny Elfman (who provided themes for the animated movie), her musical background, synaesthesia, being a rare female film composer, and more.

You can hear a few audio samples from the soundtrack of 9 and pre-order the CD on (which will be available on September 1st).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

D23 to Highlight "Alice," "Nightmare"

Disney's D23 Expo is coming to Burbank, California from September 10-13. Many screenings, panels, and other Disney-related events will take place, including some new footage of Alice in Wonderland.

On Friday, September 11th, at 11:00 am, Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook will be hosting a presentation of upcoming Disney movies in the 4,000 seat Anaheim Convention Center. There will be some new exclusive footage of Alice in Wonderland at that morning event.

And at 1:00 pm that same day, there will be a 3D screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas. The short films Vincent and Frankenweenie will play prior to the feature film. The Nightmare Before Christmas will return to select cinemas in Disney Digital 3D this October.

Admission is $37 for a one-day adult ticket and $27 for children 3-12. Four-day passes are $111 for adults and $81 for children. Learn more at the official website,

Click here to read the entire four-day schedule of events at the D23 Expo.

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Alice in Wonderland" Books Coming

Two books are coming out in relation to Tim Burton's cinematic adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic fantasy: a visual companion by Mark Salisbury and a novelization of the film by T. T. Sutherland.

There is no cover art for either Alice in Wonderland books yet, but you can preorder them on The novelization will be available on Feburary 2nd, 2010 and the visual companion on March 2nd. (You can also buy the two together on Amazon.)

Mark Salisbury has chronicled the life and films of Tim Burton extensively. He is the editor of the definitive Tim Burton interview book Burton on Burton, and the author of the visual companions for Burton's Planet of the Apes, Corpse Bride, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Friday, August 07, 2009

"9": New Poster, NECA Figures, and Video Interviews (and "Frankenweenie"...)

Tons of stuff related to the independent animated feature 9 for you! (And a surprise bonus: a mention of Frankenweenie...)

Another poster for 9 from Russia is online:

NECA will release collectible action figures of the characters from the film, starting with "1" and "9". These will become available in September:

And last but certainly not least, we've got five video interviews from Comic-Con.

The following three videos are provided by MovieWeb:

Elijah Wood

Shane Acker

Tim Burton (and he mentions Frankenweenie!)

A video of Shane Acker and Elijah Wood from Comic-Con's official YouTube channel (with mild SPOILERS):

And the final video is from The Wrap:

Acker, Bekmambetov, and Burton Talk "9"

ScreenCrave spoke with director Shane Acker and producers Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton to learn more about the feature-length version of 9 at Comic-Con:

Tim, this is a very unique project. How did you get involved with this?

Tim Burton: Well I saw Shane's short film and it just blew me away. It was amazing. After going through stuff myself trying to get movies made and people complaining like "Why doesn't the character have any eyeballs?" and things like that, I think our goal was to just let Shane make his movie.

Did you get this financed as an independent film?

Shane Acker: Yeah, it was a negative pick-up. I mean, the idea was I guess Focus guaranteed the money to buy the film as long as it met X amount of criteria at the end which kind of gave us the creative space to make the film that we wanted outside of their direct input or involvement, although they were definitely involved in the process. We were doing it at such a modest budget that we were able to take the risks and do the things that we really wanted to do and explore in this medium that is typically a medium designed for more family oriented material.

How do you do an animated film with a low budget these days?

Tim Burton: We did it.

Shane Acker: Well, yeah. You just find the right creative team and you make the right decisions as you're going forward and just be really dedicated to the project and be conservative about your design but not let it be really... because we're making a world...

Tim Burton: You did your short pretty much in your basement or garage. Right?

Shane Acker: Yeah. I think the technology is in the hands of artists now. You don't need a whole studio like Pixar in place to do these films. You can take the software and put the team together and make these films yourself, and I think it's a pretty exciting time because it's not about the technological challenge now. It's just about the stories and what is the story that you want to tell.

Did you teach Tim that movies can be made for a lot cheaper?

Tim Burton: Oh yeah. I mean, it's great. It does allow a certain freedom that you don't get when you're dealing with big budget studio [films]. Fair enough. This was such a pleasure. They made the movie and it just was such a pleasure to see if he'd be able to do it and do what they wanted to do without any negative involvement with things. So, it was very liberating to see this process happen.

Where did you get the inspiration for this film?

Shane Acker: I got the inspiration from a lot of stop-motion filmmaking – the Brothers Quay, John Stuckmeyer and the Eastern European sensibility of stop-motion filmmaking as well as Tim Burton's projects in stop-motion. I just love that world. I love the tactile quality. I love the texture and the motion that that creates. When I was starting the short, a lot of the animated films were really clean, pristine, soft and pastel and it just doesn’t speak to me. It doesn't speak to that kind of quality and the tactile nature, the organic kind of decayed nature that I really saw that the world of this film would take. I initially started playing with stop-motion and then realized that with the facility at UCLA, I wasn't going to be able to do the kind of cinematography and the camera moves and the visual storytelling that I wanted so I quickly went into the CD world but I took with it all that quality of stop-motion. I even designed the characters as you would a stop-motion armature so that they'd behave — you know, metal behaves the way metal behaves and cloth behaves the way cloth behaves. I think that lended a kind of believability to the film. People often ask me "How'd you combine stop-motion with CG? How did you do it?" And I go, "No, it's all in the computer." It's just that attention to detail that makes it believable, I think.

How long did it take you to make your short film?

Shane Acker: (laughs) 4-1/2 years.

How long did it take to make your feature film?

Tim Burton: (laughing) 4-1/2 years.

Shane Acker: 3 years actually so it's shorter to make the feature.

What was it about the movie that made you spend 4-1/2 years on it? What did you learn about yourself during that process?

Shane Acker: Well I think that's when I discovered that I was a...

Tim Burton: (interrupting) You can't. The mind of an animator, you don’t have enough time to understand that.

Shane Acker: That's when I discovered that I was an artist because I could not, not do it. You know what I mean? It's like I could not walk away from it once I started. I had to see it through. I have all the best and worst qualities of an animator to be that venal and attentive. Around year 3 it started psychologically affecting me. It's like, "Will I ever get out from underneath this thing?" I was like, "Oh my God, I've got cancer. I'm going to die before this thing is done." All this psychological stuff really starts to affect you and you know your wife is like, "How are you going to finish that?" and everyone is like, "Are you still working on that film?" "I'm still married, yeah." But somewhere around 3 I just started telling people, they’re like, "When are you going to finish that film?" and I said, "Oh, two weeks." "Two weeks! Really?" And then a couple weeks would go by, a month would go by, and they’d come back and ask "Are you finished with that film?" and I'd say, "In two weeks, two weeks." "Really?" And then they finally got the joke and just stopped asking.

Tim, do you remember ever working on a project that drove you crazy?

Tim Burton: I got out of animation because I couldn't do that. To me, I just don't have the patience for it and I was a very unhappy animator. In fact, when I was working at Disney, I slept half of the day. I learned how to sleep sitting at my desk in case they walked in. That’s why I admire what he's done because it does take so much work. It’s an amazing feat for somebody to do this. It really is.

You and Timur are two very visionary filmmakers. What do you bring to the table? What do you offer Shane?

Timur Bekmambetov: I think you have to talk to Shane.

Shane Acker: Yeah, well what was great about it was that while the crew was working on it and we're putting the thing together, whenever we got to a major milestone or we got a cut of the film, we'd present it to the filmmakers and it was great because they had that critical distance from being away from the project to see it in a big picture kind of way and give us those notes and really kind of shape the direction and give those notes that really cut to the core, to the heart of it, and allowed me to kind of step back and say "Oh wow, I can see this from a different point of view" and then be able to go back in with that new awareness and try to reshape it in other ways. Also, they were just a great resource when you had questions and you needed feedback and ideas.

Are there going to be any moments in the film that we'll be looking at and say this is what Tim or Timur brought to the film? Are there any specific aspects or is it just a melding?

Shane Acker: I think it's a melding. I can't speak for Tim or Timur, but I think there's a certain crossover of all our instincts as filmmakers. We’re sort of in tune in some way.

Tim Burton: I think I wouldn't have gotten involved unless I didn’t really like what he did and I think that we all felt the same way that way. I’m not speaking for everybody but I think…

Timur Bekmambetov: Our role is just to protect him because as directors we know how...

Shane Acker: That’s right on the inside of your…

Timur Bekmambetov: Bodyguard.

Tim Burton: Let me give you a classic example. I had to argue. I had so many fights with Disney about changing the character’s, you know, Jack Skellington's eye balls. You know, nobody is going to relate to a character that doesn’t have eyes. They’re just like, "Ahh, shit!" You know, it takes a lot out of you. So, I think for us, it was just absurd. You have enough to deal with when you're making a film. You've got so much to deal with. You don’t need to deal with all that stuff.

If you’d like to do a film without all that interference, would you like to do an independent?

Tim Burton: I think making a film is a challenge in itself. No, I really enjoyed seeing this process. It really was a cathartic thing for me.

Was it fun being a mentor?

Tim Burton: I don't feel that way. I don't come into it like that. Again, for me, it was a very easy collaboration because we liked what Shane did so there was no controversy. Again, as Timur says, we were just there to kind of… If he wanted anything or to ask a question or show us something, whatever, we had that outside [perspective]... which is great in animation because you can get real tunnelvisioned in there and so it's nice...

Shane Acker: (interrupting) You were going to make sure it didn’t take 4-1/2 years.

Tim Burton: (laughing) Just for his own sake.

Timur Bekmambetov: Personally, I learned a lot from Shane. It was an interesting process for me and I learned a lot of interesting things for myself.

So, with short films, they can take years and be really tedious. What inspired you to want to make this into a feature film?

Shane Acker: Well, there's always an idea of the back story and the larger picture behind the short. I think what people were attracted to in the short and the solid potential of doing a feature is that it seems like a little slice out of some larger narrative. So, there were already ideas gestating about the back story and the world and how these characters came to be. It was really exciting to then get the backing to explore that – you know, expand that little idea into something much bigger and that territory that was already there when I was designing the short to see what was really there. There were these sort of broad strokes and gestures. And then, the idea of being able to see what those other creatures are like because in the short there's just '5' and '9' and then in the feature we can see all 9 of those characters which was really a lot of fun to explore who those characters were and where they came from. It's really a journey of self-discovery where they're trying to find out who they are and it is looking back on the past at what happened to the humans that they discover who they are and what their role is. So, there's just a lot of really fun territory to explore. So, I think that’s what reenergized me to keep going.

Will there be a sequel?

Shane Acker: '10'.

Tim Burton: That's right.

Timur Bekambetov: They didn't save the world, those dolls. They still...

Tim Burton: I think it'll be ‘9 Squared’.

You spent all this time on the concept and the idea for the characters. When you bring in actors to bring these characters to life, how does that change the story?

Shane Acker: What's nice about animation and also a little hair raising is that it's always a process. It always is. You would have a session with the actors and they would bring a lot of their material and we would leave it pretty open and we'd explore the character and dialogue and then you'd run back to your secret lab with that and then you start to play with that material and see what comes out of it and you make new discoveries and you go back and do the process over again. So, I think that was always really exciting because you collaborate on every level which is great and the film just kind of organically shapes itself. They brought a tremendous amount to the table and we actually sought the actors who had the characteristics of the characters that we were portraying. We wanted them to speak in a very naturalistic way and it's not as pushed as some animation and it's not as broad. You learn a lot from that. They're sort of the first round of the acting and they give you a lot of raw material and then you also work with the animators which do another level of acting on top of that so you're always fleshing these characters out.

Was it helpful having two people like Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov involved in the project. Did that bring you any sort of cache?

Shane Acker: Oh, I'm sure. Definitely. Tim was involved very early in the project and I think that's what really got the ball rolling and got people excited and interested in the project.

Tim Burton: These actors are all great. I mean, I was impressed by what they brought. The easiest thing with animation is to over... kind of broad... I think that's just the nature of it. They all did a really great job of making it really natural. That's one of the things that I really like about the film and the animation as well. It's got that stop-motioney kind of... but naturalistic. It's a film of power that I thought was really amazing.

Shane Acker: I think it really helps the audience begin to go past the abstract character designs and really start to see the humans inside these characters which is a big thrust of the film. It’s the concept of the film.

How would you say this film is different from whatever we’ve seen before?

Shane Acker: I don't know. This is just how I think. This is the thrust that I have, the interest I have in animation. For me, it's what I think animation should be. I'm just expressing myself. Hopefully, if people like and engage in it, it will open the door for other possibilities to explore and expand.

Tim Burton: You don't see many personal animated films. That's what makes it special. It's Shane's thing. It's really nice to see something [like this]. It's like when you go to see an independent film and it's got somebody’s stamp of their thing. You rarely see that in animation so that's good.

Shane Acker: Yes. Speaking of that, I didn't set out to shake the foundation of animation. I just kind of set out to tell the story that I wanted to tell and the world I wanted to tell with the characters and the way I see things. But also, it's exciting to see that something like this can come out and get the backing. I'm very excited.

Has this project opened up doors for you?

Shane Acker: It has. People are really excited by this. It was great because we were flying so low and under the radar and it just sort of bubbled up to the surface and people were really excited and they gravitated to it. Like, what is this thing and where did it come from? It’s fascinating. It's interesting. And I think it's generated a lot of excitement in the industry.

Tim Burton: That's a rarity too. And unfortunately, that won't happen again. Enjoy it because it's amazing to be under the radar. It's the best thing in the world. Enjoy it before it's too late.

Timur Bekmambetov: No responsibility.

Shane Acker: That's right.

What other projects do you have coming up after this? Will there be a Wanted 2?

Timur Bekmambetov: It's happening. I think the second movie will be in production soon.

Is Angelina Jolie signed up for it?

Timur Bekmambetov: We're trying to wake her up but it's difficult. She was wounded. We’re trying hard to wake her up.

Tim, have you ever been to Comic-Con before and how have you found the experience?

Tim Burton: I did come a long time ago. It obviously surprised me how big it is now. I mean, that really surprised me. But, it's still passionate people, still dressed in funny costumes. It's great. It really is a special energy here. It’s like the Cannes Film Festival. I saw the lines and I couldn’t believe it.

I'm curious if that community has reached out to this film or if you’re trying to reach out to them?

Shane Acker: They haven't reached out to me directly but I'm a big fan of that world. You can see there's a lot of inspiration from that kind of world in this film. I don’t know. I haven't seen any rag dolls walking around yet.

Will the short appear on the DVD?

Shane Acker: Yes. It will be packaged on the DVD.

Can we see it now online anywhere?

Shane Acker: I think there’s a bootleg on YouTube. I don’t really promote that. You should see it in full quality but I think that’s possible.

Be sure to check out the film, in theaters September 9th.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Burton on "Alice," "9," and More

Cinematical has an extensive interview with Tim Burton:

Cinematical: At Comic-Con, it was informative to watch you first discuss a film which you're directing and then one that you're just producing. In the 9 panel you said that you were there to fight battles with the studio so that Shane Acker could focus on directing the film; when you're serving in a producorial capacity is that what you do or is there a sort of creative consultation?

Tim Burton: Well, yeah. I don't know if Shane said it, but I was an animator and I know what it's like; you have to be so concentrated and have to put so much thought into every detail. I had it easy because it's like you want somebody that's not looking at those every day and has a more fresh perspective on it, which is something I appreciate because when I make something, it's extremely helpful to have people that you trust who have been through it before to look at the big-picture kind of stuff, look at a cut or look at the script or look at the characters inside. Shane's an artist, and the good thing about an artist is that they don't have that ego; he was very open to things. I felt it was quite a good collaboration with everybody, because Timur [Bekmambetov]'s made films, I've made films, and we all liked what Shane did so there was none of this, like, "well I've got to put my stamp on this or that" kind of a thing. So it was kind of creating that kind of an environment to let someone do their thing; even without all of that stuff, just making the film, that's where you want him to put all of his energy.

Cinematical: Both in the program and on stage the film was referred to as "stitchpunk." Do phrases like that mean anything to you?

Burton: No. I mean, I always liked stitching, and maybe I'm a frustrated sewer, but no. I just like the look of it and the feel of it. Personally I think it's intriguing, and I like that fact that someone has given something a name like that, but I don't do that myself.

Cinematical: Even if you're the one inventing such descriptions or names, is that limiting at all in the sense that it creates a specific association? Or does that provide sort of a shorthand that gives people an immediate entry point for what they might be seeing?

Burton: I don't know. The thing I liked about this movie was that I couldn't quite categorize it. We've all seen post-apocalyptic imagery in films – it's not like it's new territory in that sense, although at the same time I liked it because I couldn't quite categorize it. There was an emotional quality, and after myself working on Nightmare and things where you're trying to take characters that are not necessarily perceived as attractive-looking characters, but giving it an emotion, that's what I liked about what Shane was doing, so I felt connected in that way. But I like the fact that you can't really categorize it; the very Hollywood sort-of way of pitching things is kind of like, "well, it's The Terminator meets Wall-E," you know, but you immediately get that's a kind of short-hand, but I was just kind of like, oh, brother. I think we're all lucky with a group of people like Shane and Timur and Jim [Limley] and myself, we all kind of like to avoid that stuff, so there was none of that going on and it was good.

Cinematical: Yesterday at one of the panels a fan asked if you would be interested in remaking The Wizard of Oz. As much as adaptations and interpretations of properties like Alice and Wonderland and Sleepy Hollow are in your wheelhouse, do the commercial opportunities of doing material like that limit you from doing things that are more original or specific to your appetites?

Burton: Well, yeah. It's true, because there are things like Nightmare or Edward Scissorhands, things that I really [put myself into], but I've enjoyed the other things that I've done. But yeah. Also, too Hollywood, it becomes a thing where it's, okay, which TV show haven't we done yet, and I understand it because it's an easy [choice], but yeah. I'm not answering your question, but it's a bit of a danger. Yeah, it is, but that's why I like getting involved with this, and what also was nice about this which you don't get these days is sort of flying under the radar; there's something about him, something new where you don't know a whole lot about it, and it gets made, and it's a bit more of a surprise, and that was really cool with this.

Cinematical: So when you do something like Alice in Wonderland that has a cache of familiarity, does that allow you to be able to do your own projects? For example, you did Big Fish, which wasn't as commercially successful as its follow-up, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Burton: I don't think about that stuff. I mean, I'm aware of the fact that if you make a bunch of movies that don't make any money it's hard to continue to make movies. There is a certain amount of that, but I never sort of said, well, I'll do a big studio movie and then I'll do a personal movie. If you can really sort of maneuver that, because that's the problem – it's a hard way of thinking. I never want to think about making a movie to make money, because it's not an exact science. Things like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I know it's a known thing, but it's also a book that I loved as a child. So you make a personal connection to everything that you do; even Alice, there's been so many versions of it and there's never been a version that I really liked. So that's my attempt, to make a movie of Alice that's just more than a series of weird events.

Cinematical: How did the technology augment your ideas for that adaptation, both in terms of 3-D and in terms of conceiving these really amazing character designs?

Burton: Well, I'm still in the process, and that's the scary thing. I mean, usually I don't ever talk about stuff in these early days, but the jury is still out on that one. I haven't felt the sort of liberation of technology yet; it's actually a bit more sort of the opposite of the way I usually work, where you have sets and actors and you can see what you get right away. Here, it's the reverse – you've got all of these pieces of stuff and you see a finished shot very, very late in the process. So it's strange.

Cinematical: As must be the case right now with these two films, how difficult is it to juggle your producorial efforts with those that you direct?

Burton: Especially in animation it takes so long that it wouldn't do Shane, it wouldn't do anybody a service to be [controlling], because it's like watching paint dry. It's a long, long process, so again, I love it because especially when I'm thinking of something else, like when I'm on Alice thinking about it, it's actually a luxury to kind of take my mind away for a second and look at something here and have a fresh perspective on it. it kind of keeps my mind stimulated and going, so it's actually been quite good that way.

Cinematical: Has your evolution as a filmmaker been sort of concurrent with the technology you're using now? For example, Nightmare was stop-motion, and potentially 9 could have been as well, but you and Shane are using CGI. Also, Nightmare was retrofitted for 3-D and now you're using it during the production of Alice.

Burton: Each project you try to actually pick the medium for the project, and the thing I liked about 9 is Shane, his inspiration was all stop-motion and it actually has a stop-motion feel. The quality of the animation, it's got that like more naturalistic thing. Now, the reason he couldn't do it [stop-motion], which I understand, is for the budget and the kind of camera moves, the kind of action stuff that he wanted to get. He chose to do it that way, which I think he made exactly the right choice; you get the best of both worlds with that. For me and for things like Alice, it seemed like 3-D and Alice, the material and doing it that way just seemed appropriate with the project, just the mix of animation and manipulate the live-action so it's in a stranger way. But that's not something you pre-plan; you just kind of take it, you see where the technology is at that moment, is this possible, and then take it as it comes, really. Obviously technology is so rapidly changing and it goes through those spurts, doesn't it, and it's in one of those growth spurts at the moment.

Cinematical: Do you feel a sense of protectiveness coming from the world of cel animation? It seems to be used more and more rarely these days, although today at the Disney panel, they showed footage from their next film, which is being done with hand-drawn animation.

Burton: Yeah, that's great. Because I remember somebody, DreamWorks does a cel-animated movie and it doesn't make any money so they go, "we're not making any more cel-animated films." I think Disney even said that at one point. John Lasseter and the real animators know that's just a stupid concept, and Pixar has proven the fact that you just do a project, do it in the medium that fits it and do a good story, and it can be hand-drawn, hand puppets, whatever. It will connect if it's the right thing.

Cinematical: How far into production are you on Alice?

Burton: We shot all of the live-action, and now it's just a lot of animation, and a lot of compositing. That's the thing: you just see pieces of a lot of shots. But there's a lot going on (laughs).

Cinematical: For Alice, how did you arrive at the way these characters would be rendered? Because they are exaggerated but they do have a vaguely real quality.

Burton: It just came down to things in technology that I liked or didn't like. For instance, I'm not a big fan at the moment for mo-cap stuff because I just don't like it personally. A lot of people have used it very successfully, but it's personally not a thing that I like. That's why I decided to go with pure animation for some of the characters, and then for some, live-action, rather than it just being animation or live-action – to blur the lines a little bit. With some of our characters, we're just doing some manipulation with it, so it's their real performance, real faces, real heads, real bodies, everything, but just manipulate it so that it's kind of a weirder crossover into what Wonderland is. It just comes down to sort of things that you like or don't like, and I just find with animation, you're able to achieve more reality by just doing the animation than maybe doing mo-cap stuff. Although it's getting better, I know that; they're doing really good things with it. But it's just a personal choice to do something that way.

Cinematical: So would it be accurate to say you're looking for an artistic authenticity rather than realism?

Burton: No, I don't know. I'm not sure. I think it just really came down to the fact that I didn't want to do the mo-cap thing, and therefore, how do we blend it? Because also, you've got things where you've got animation and live-action, and it's obvious what's animation and what's live-action, so there's a few characters where we can blur those lines a little. I'm not sure how that will manifest itself or how it will turn out, but that's the goal.

Cinematical: At their Visionaries panel, James Cameron talked about the way that Peter Jackson's Gollum showed him that performance capture was at the stage that he felt he could do Avatar. Do you or have you seen films that gave you a similar sense that a technology or design element had made a step forward that would make you want to use it?

Burton: It happens all of the time. I mean, yeah, definitely. That's why, for me, I didn't want to use mo-cap, but it's getting better all of the time, and it's great that people are doing it. I think the more tools, the better; that's why people go, oh, how come you're not doing this this way or that way, and the fact is there's no right way or wrong way. Robert Zemeckis does his things because he wants to do a certain thing, and that's great, and other people have a different way they want to do it. But each one is great; there's no right or wrong way to do it, I think. It should just be open to whatever the elements are, whatever the project is, use those elements, and all tools.

Cinematical: At the 9 panel an attendee said to you, "I'm a huge fan, and not in a hot topic kind of way." Is there any consciousness either consciously ignoring it or being aware of it when you take on new projects, that there is an association between you and a certain persona of being dark, brooding, or this goth guy?

Burton: No. You know, it happens to you in school – once you get a reputation for something, no matter what you do or who you are, it's like it sticks with you. I don't know where that one really came from because I don't consider myself that at all. I don't know if this answers your question, but I try not to think about it too much; it's that kind of thing like, you're a human being, not a thing, you know! I find it nice when people are complimentary or like something you do, and that means the most of anything. That means a lot to me, and when that happens, I feel very grateful for it, but I don't think about any kind of labeling or how people perceive me, because it's a slightly disturbing thought to me (laughs).

Cinematical: How then do you find the projects you do? Do you sort of gravitate to them, or is it a matter of being in the right place at the right time?

Burton: It's a mixture of all of that. That's why I don't like to plan too far in advance, because you don't know how you're going to feel. Sometimes a project can come to you, like this, like Alice in Wonderland in 3-D, and I thought, ooh – that sounds intriguing. That's how that happened, but other projects like Nightmare or Scissorhands are things that you want to have and live inside you and you want to do, and sometimes they take a while to [happen]. Like Nightmare, from thinking about it took ten years to get made; Scissorhands similarly, Corpse Bride, similarly. But those are the kind of things that you know you're sometime going to do just because they're inside you and then there are the ones outside that intrigue you.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Tim Burton's "Crap"

Tim Burton (Reuters)

Tim Burton told WENN about some of the movie memorabilia he collects in his home.

"I've got so much crap in the house. I got a really huge chair from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which everybody loves sitting in because you feel like a little kid. I've got Corpse Bride puppets, Nightmare Before Christmas puppets."

But his collection is not limited to props and trinkets from his own films: "This wax museum closed down and I bought the wax figure of Sammy Davis, Jr. I have it on the couch and one of the friends of my kids went crying to his mother, saying we had a dead person on our sofa!"

Is Burton Another Warhol?

Tim Burton at MoMA. Photo by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE.

Tim Burton recently visited New York City and the Museum of Modern Art in preparation of the massive exhibition "Tim Burton," displaying his art from November 2009 until April 2010, indieWIRE reports.

Discussing the upcoming show, MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry and curator Ron Magliozzi hailed Burton as another Andy Warhol because of his artwork spanning across multiple disciplines. The difference, they said, is that Burton's art is much less well-known than his films.

"So much of Warhol's [work] is well known," Magliozzi said, "So little of Tim's has been seen." Continuing on that note, a journalist asked Tim Burton what his mother would think of that comparison. Burton paused and then quipped, "She'd go, 'Who's Warhol'?"

Burton has said that he did not grow up in a "real museum culture," and "got more out of 'Beverly Hillbillies' than Eric Rohmer." Much of his early work was inspired by television he watched as a kid. But Burton was excited about this exhibition, albeit a little surprised.

Chief curator Raj Roy also commented on the Andy Warhol and Tim Burton comparison. "Knowing Tim’s work now, as I’ve had an opportunity to experience the full scope and range of his productivity, I certainly think that the comparison is valid.

"I think that just as Warhol never really had mainstream crossover success in the film world, Tim may never fully crossover in the art world; but that almost has more to do with their success and stature in their 'first fields' than with whether or not they merit acclaim in both worlds. People like to put artists in categories, especially when commerce is involved. If the MoMA show can help expose Tim Burton as a great artist in a variety of media, I’d be thrilled."

All of Burton's feature films and many of his student and non-professional shorts will be shown at the exhibition.

The staff at MoMA teased Burton and attendees with a sample from one of his rarest films, Hansel and Gretel. The short has rarely been seen since its television debut on the Disney Channel in 1983. The clip featured a Japanese Hansel and Gretel and a nasty witch with a candy cane hook nose.

"If you think I’m tasty and you want my body, come on Hansel take a bite," lures a decapitated gingerbread man, alluding to Rod Stewart's 1970's song, "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy." "Finish me!" screams the cookie.

"It's hard to believe that ever played on the Disney Channel," laughed Burton at the end of the clip. The excerpt was from a video, as no film prints exist. "The reason they don't have a copy is because I tried to burn them all myself," he added later. "Those things were never meant to be seen."

"Works from the cinema are essential works of art that need to be collected and preserved," MoMA’s Glenn Lowry said in an introduction to the hour-long presentation. Even after decades of presenting cinematic and filmmakers' artwork, this is MoMA's "most comprehensive monographic show," said Lowry.

Burton hasn't seen much of the artwork since he created it, and felt re-energized by the exhibition. "It's more about the process and ideas, than film and art," Burton said of the MoMA exhibition.

Coverage of Upcoming MoMA Exhibit

NY1 did a news segment on the upcoming exhibition "Tim Burton" at the Museum of Modern Art. The video is online, and you can read what Burton had to say in case the video doesn't work in your territory:

Burton says sharing his so-called "visual diary" is a surreal experience.

Burton: It's like kind of having your laundry hanging up or something. It's like, 'Oh, he wears this kind of underwear,' something very strange about it. I haven't looked at it since I did it.

Shazia Khan: And what was it like to revisit that work?

Burton: Well, it's exciting, kind of re-energizes you. It's not something you want to do every day, kind of go back and look at everything, but after never doing it before, it kind of re-energized me and kind of made me excited.

On whether he considers his artwork dark:

"I never thought of it as dark, I always thought it was very light in a certain way. So I guess everybody's perception of light and dark is very different. But to me, it always kind of seemed light-hearted, but maybe a little bit of darkness to it."