Thursday, September 03, 2009

Q&A with Tim Burton

Metromix covers a lot in their Q&A with filmmaker Tim Burton. In the interview, Burton talks about the various films that he's working on (and even mentions the status of the stop-motion adaptation of Frankenweenie), his thoughts on the Oscars, the current state of animation in the film industry, and much more:

You came aboard 9 as producer after Shane Acker had made his short film. How'd that process work out?

I liked his short film, and he had a certain sensibility that I felt close to. Because I had gone through the process and made animated films…I always know what I wished I'd had, which was somebody to bounce things off of: first cut, the first draft of the script, some design notes.

What drew you to the story?
I liked the short film. It just seemed like a piece of a larger picture. It just needed to be fleshed out. The thing about a short is, you can keep the kind of mystery and the kind of personal quality to it. And I think the key was to keep that feeling, but on a bigger scale. You see a lot of personal films, but you don't see a lot of personal animated films.

Well, the number of Oscar nominees for Best Picture has now been bumped up to 10…


Wonder why they did that? I had heard talk of it but didn't know they actually did it. Wow.

With more nominees this year, people are predicting that a film like Up could land a spot as the first computer-animated Best Picture nominee.
Animated films…they're films! I think it's good that now, most people are not looking at them as [just] animated. They're looking at them as films, like the Pixar people. You can categorize [animation], but it shouldn't be limited by that.

But the Best Animated Film category is still there. Do you think that ghettoizes these movies?
Maybe it does. But at the same time, most people recognize—certainly the studios recognize—the economic potential of animated films. Family films, animated films—[they're] much more of a sure thing than any type of film at the moment.

What's your favorite animated film?

[Long pause] I'd have to pick something that had a lot of impact, which was Jason and the Argonauts [by] Ray Harryhausen. That really had an impact on me. The stop-motion animation and the kind of reality and scale of it at the time when I saw it was really amazing.

Would you ever want to remake that film? They're remaking Clash of the Titans.
[Chuckles] I know. Nah, I think it was good.

How are things coming along with Dark Shadows?
I haven't really started that at all. I still have to finish Alice. So that's a big job ahead of me. It's way too early. [Laughs] Probably in a year's time.

Any ideas that you've already been thinking up for it?
Well, just to try to capture the tone. It was a strange show, it has a strange vibe to it. And that's, I think, key to it.

Alice has been all over the place, with photos and trailers and you guys at Comic-Con.

Usually I don't talk about something before it's done. So it's been an odd situation because I [still] have so much work to do. I'm not scared of [all the special effects], per se, but I'm a bit daunted by the time and the unknown quality of it. But that makes it exciting as well.

What about Frankenweenie?

Still early. Like I said, the focus I have is Alice. It's hard to think of anything else that requires a large amount of work.

But that's on the table.
Oh yeah, afterward, yeah. Exactly. Slowly get started.

I saw the latest "Harry Potter" last night, which stars your partner, Helena Bonham Carter. She makes a pretty mean baddie.
[Jokes] Yeah, she's a good witch. She had a lot of practice. She's good at that.

Does she ever come to you for tips on how to channel all that darkness?

No, she keeps it all personal. She keeps it all for her own uses, yeah. Witchcraft uses. [Laughs]

New York's Museum of Modern Art is doing an exhibit on you later this year. That was a little unexpected.
I feel like it's a weird dream—I'm not sure that it's real. But it's very exciting. That's probably more scary than a film, in a certain way. It feels a bit more exposing. I'm trying not to think too much about it. I'm trying to remove myself a bit from it—a bit of an out-of-body experience.

Your films have such a consistent, dark vision. Do you ever wake up wanting to do something crazy like a romantic comedy?

[Chuckles] No. Well, I thought Sweeney Todd was a romantic comedy in my mind. So, I think I've already done it. [Laughs] But not the way you're thinking, because that would be scary. But some of those are so scary, they're like horror movies anyway. They don't need my help.

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