Sunday, November 28, 2010

Burton on Drawing, Parenthood, Kids' Shows

Tim Burton spoke with AOL's ParentDish to discuss his recent book of art (which includes over 1,000 illustrations), drawing with his kids, and being a parent, among other relevant topics:

ParentDish: Hi, Tim.
Tim Burton:
If you hear screaming children, I apologize.

PD: I was just about to say the same thing! How old are your kids?
My daughter [Nell] is almost 3, and my son [Billy Ray] just turned 7. At the moment, they are having their normal brother/sister fights. The usual. We've all been through it.

PD: Your book is beautiful.
Publishing is such a strange world. We met publishers and they told me, "Well, it's not going to make any money." And I said, "We're not doing it to make money." So we thought of going through such an unenthusiastic process, it'll be more fun to do it independently. Then you know what you're doing and what you're getting. The process was more of a fun, hands-on experience. It was quite a lot of fun to be a part of. It's more tangible like making a movie.

PD: What are you working on now?
The most tangible thing is a stop motion version of "Frankenweenie," the short film I did many, many years ago. I wanted to try and go back and capture the spirit of the drawings. That's the thing that's happening right now and I'm also working on a thing called "Dark Shadows," which is close to happening. We'll see.

PD: I remember reading how you said it's hard for you to get projects made and I was shocked. You're Tim Burton!
It is strange; it's probably a good thing. I learned that pretty early on. Each project is its own organism. Some happen and some don't. There's always something. It does keep you humble, keeps you grounded.

PD: Do you still draw?
Oh, yeah. It's something I like to do. Even though I don't necessarily do it for a living anymore, it's still enjoyable. It's still part of the process of exploring ideas. I try to do it when I travel.

PD: Are your kids interested in drawing?
Yeah. My son has a monster book and I'll draw a shape and he'll draw some of it and we go back and forth. It's fun. You know, you kind of learn a lot from them because you kind of go back to the roots of why you like drawing. It's great; it's creativity and therapy and exploration.

PD: Do you ever go to a restaurant and offer to draw a picture instead of paying?
(Laughs.) No, actually I'm pretty private about it. I used to be able to go into a dark corner of a bar and quietly sketch. It's gotten harder and it's something that I actually miss.

PD: If you combed your hair you'd be unrecognizable.
No. I wear a white leisure suit.

PD: Your kids must have posh accents.
Yeah, that's a bit scary. They're like, "Daddy, daddy." (Says with an upper class British accent.) I've been here over 10 years and I haven't adopted a fake English accent.

PD: I assume you're getting your tux cleaned for the upcoming royal wedding.
(Laughs.) Yes, we're all very excited over here. I've got my cup and my bowl and all my memorabilia ready.

PD: Don't mock. I love that stuff.
I've met them (Prince William and Kate Middleton), actually. They're very, very nice so I wish them all the best. As strange as a life that they must have, they're strangely down to earth.

PD: Did you ever draw puppies and kittens? Your stuff is pretty dark.
TB: I worked on Disney's "The Fox and the Hound" for a year. That used up my quota of cute animals. I had trouble drawing them from the beginning. That's why I didn't work on further cute animal pictures.

PD: Do you vomit seeing cute animal movies?
No, no. With my kids, I've been watching my share of cute animal pictures. Some are awful, but I like in a funny way, and some are just awful. Most kids' stuff is kind of weird, anyway.

PD: What are your kids' favorite shows?
My boy likes "Scooby-Doo," which is good because that's what I liked. My daughter, she likes "Peppa Pig" (an English show), which is OK. I don't mind Peppa. "Max & Ruby," I can quite stomach. That one really drives me nuts.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Expanded "Batman Returns" Score Available

La-La Land is proud to announce that they will be releasing an expanded, two-disc set of Danny Elfman's Batman Returns score very soon. This title, along with three other film scores, will be available for order November 30, 2010 at 1pm (PST) and will begin shipping the same day. Click here to learn the full details of the other scores, but here is the information on the Batman Returns release:

Music by Danny Elfman
Limited Edition of 3500 Units

La-La Land’s Expanded Archival Collection returns to Gotham for this 2CD remastered and expanded presentation of Danny Elfman’s magnificent score to the 1992 Warner Bros. motion picture blockbuster BATMAN RETURNS, starring Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito, directed by Tim Burton. Composer Elfman (BATMAN, MARS ATTACKS, WANTED, ALICE IN WONDERLAND) revisits his iconic theme and expertly weaves it into a sumptuous musical experience, bringing to life the film’s breathtaking action and rich emotional and psychological underpinnings. Produced by Neil S. Bulk, Dan Goldwasser and MV Gerhard and mastered by James Nelson from Shawn Murphy’s first generation three-track digital mixes, this limited edition release features more than 30 minutes of previously unreleased music, including alternate cues. The in-depth, exclusive liner notes are by John Takis and the art direction is by David C. Fein. This release is limited to 3500 Units.


Disc One: Total Time: 68:08

1. Birth of a Penguin/Main Title (5:38)
2. Penguin Spies* (1:09)
3. Shadow of Doom*/Clown Attack*/Introducing the Bat** (5:01)
4. Intro*/The Zoo**/The Lair (6:00)
5. Caught in the Act*/Uh-Oh Max* (1:58)
6. Kitty Party*/Selina Transforms** (5:30)
7. Penguin’s Grand Deed* (1:50)
8. The List Begins* (:45)
9. The Cemetery (2:56)
10. Catwoman Saves Joan*/The New Woman* (2:03)
11. Penguin’s Surprise (1:43)
12. Bad, Bad Dog**/Batman vs. Circus/Selina’s Shopping Spree** (5:42)
13. Cat Chase** (2:12)
14. Candidate Cobblepot* (:58)
15. The Plan*/Kidnapping* (2:32)
16. Sore Spots/Batman’s Closet* (3:22)
17. The Plot Unfolds* (1:15)
18. Roof Top Encounters** (4:49)
19. Batman’s Wild Ride** (4:19)
20. Fall From Grace** (4:17)
21. Revealed*/Party Crasher* (3:18)

Disc Two: Total Time: 71:27

1. Umbrella Source/The Children’s Hour/War** (7:53)
2. Final Confrontation**/Finale (9:15)
3. A Shadow of Doubt**/End Credits** (6:15)
4. Face to Face (4:18)
- performed by Siouxsie and the Banshees


5. The Zoo (alternate)** (1:00)
6. The List Begins (alternate)* (:45)
7. Cat Chase (alternate ending)** (2:13)
8. Roof Top Encounters (original)** (4:49)
9. Fall From Grace (alternate ending)** (4:17)
10. The Lair, Part I (:57)
11. The Lair, Part II (4:51)
12. Selina Transforms, Part I (1:12)
13. Selina Transforms, Part II (4:15)
14. Batman vs. The Circus (2:35)
15. Cat Suite (5:43)
16. A Shadow of Doubt (alternate)**/End Credits (alternate) (7:02)


17. Super Freak* (3:23)
- composed by Rick James and Alonzo Miller
* previously unreleased
** contains previously unreleased material

Album Total Running Time: 139:35

Friday, November 26, 2010

Burton on Vampires, "Twilight," 2010 Movies

Jada Yuan of's Vulture spoke with Tim Burton. In this interview, the director talks about the 1970's singer and actress Cherry Vanilla (a friend for whom he hosted a dinner at Royalton), movies he saw this year, his upcoming vampire movies, and the recent surge of popularity in vampires, most notably in the Twilight franchise:

When did you meet Cherry?
Shit, I can’t remember. It was like fifteen years ago. She worked for me. I knew her through some other friends. She’s obviously quite memorable. You never forget her once you meet her. She’s quite honest and open and refreshing to be around.

Did anything in the book shock you?
Nah. I mean, I know her. [Laughs.]

You knew the stories?
No, but you see things. We never got into the gruesome details. But whenever you hear Cherry talk, it’s quite funny. You get the full flavor of it whether you know exactly what’s going on or not.

Yeah, that one with David Bowie was quite ... detailed.

[Rolls eyes and buries head in hands.]

Did Cherry’s book make you think about what you’d write in your own tell-all book?
No, it makes me realize I wouldn’t do it. It takes a certain kind of fearlessness that I don’t have, at least for that. I prefer things to be private. So I’m amazed at her. It’s great. It’s not something I would do.

Okay, so your next two movies are Dark Shadows and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. They’re both about vampires?
Sort of. I wouldn’t say they’re about vampires. In Dark Shadows, there’s a character that happens to be a vampire.

How are you going to turn a soap opera into a movie?
We’ll see. I don’t really know until I start it. I’m trying to find a certain tone, and we don’t know if we get it until we start it.

Johnny Depp will be in both of them?
No, just one. Dark Shadows.

How do you feel about Twilight and True Blood?

I haven’t seen them. I saw part of one of the Twilights.

What did you think?
I think some things are just a phenomenon and that’s okay.

Did you like any movies this year?

I really wanted to like Piranha 3D, but I didn’t. I had an affinity for The Wolfman. [Long, agonizing pause as he thinks ... ] You’re pointing out a sad fact of my life. I don’t watch movies very much.

How much of an Oscar campaign will there be for Alice in Wonderland?
Not for me. I’m not a politician. You make the movie and that’s it. You don’t go running for president after.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Interview: Burton on 2010, 3D, Future

Tim Burton has had a very big year in 2010: his highly expensive and ambitious Alice in Wonderland earned $1 billion at the global box office, but was a hugely stressful experience for the director. His art retrospective, which opened in November 2009 at MoMA, has also visited Melbourne and, this week, Toronto. He was the president of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Several new projects have become attached to his name, and a stop-motion version of Frankenweenie is finally being made after 26 years that he came up with the idea and made the original live-action shot. MTV News had an interview with the filmmaker to discuss his 2010 of successes, surprises, difficulties, and the future:

MTV: Tim, every year here at MTV News, we select a few people we're most thankful for. And you've had quite a year with the phenomenal success of "Alice in Wonderland" and a retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Tim Burton: Wow. Well, that's quite an honor. Thank you.

MTV: Did it feel like this year was a special one?

Burton: Yeah, it was interesting. The MOMA show was very special, and then going to the Cannes film festival and "Alice" — it was a lot of stuff going on. It was a special year for me, definitely.

MTV: Were you a little more reflective than usual with the MOMA show?

Burton: Yeah, I think so. It kind of forced me to look at myself, which I don't do very often. I even avoid mirrors as I walk by them. It was a bit of a surprise in a good way. It did make me more reflective. You know, as you go on in life, there are less and less surprises — especially nice surprises, so it's really, really great to feel surprised in a good way.

MTV: We spoke a few times when you were working on "Alice," and frankly, you seemed stressed.

Burton: I was really stressed. We were doing music to no images. It was terrifying. In a weird way, it was quite exciting too, because you never know with a film what it's going to turn out to be. But this was just an extreme, extreme version of that.

MTV: How did you feel about the 3-D debate that came with the film? Some criticized the conversion to 3-D you used.

Burton: Right, yeah, but that was kind of a funny argument because the thing is, we'll shoot what? It's not like we were doing motion-capture or we had sets. There was nothing to shoot. We planned for it. It was kind of a created argument in a way. Everybody likes to have a celebrity death match. Who will win? Things have more shades to it than that.

MTV: Right, because a lot of it became about you and James Cameron's different approaches to 3-D.

Burton: Yeah. They're doing "Titanic" in 3-D. What, they're going to go back and shoot it in 3-D? No. They're going to do the same thing we did.

MTV: Is Disney putting the pressure on for a sequel for "Alice"?

Burton: No, they haven't, which was smart of them. They saw that it was kind of its own thing. They didn't push for it at all, which I thought was really amazing, and smart, and right.

MTV: And you are content to leave the story where it is? Because you do leave an opening at the end ...

Burton: Yeah, but that's what the material does to me, it leaves it open for you. It's kind of like dreams. It leaves it open, as it should, for interpretation. It's like I got a lot of pressure to do a sequel to "Nightmare [Before Christmas]," and I just didn't want to do that, because some movies should just be left alone. I think it keeps their kind of spirit intact in a way.

MTV: There's been talk about adapting "Alice" into a Broadway show. Are you involved in that?

Burton: I'm talking to them about that just because there was a seedling of an idea that I thought was interesting. I don't know how far it will go, but it's something. I've always kind of wanted to do something live onstage. I'm just going to explore it and see what happens.

MTV: It sounds like you'll be shooting "Dark Shadows" with Johnny Depp soon?

Burton: Yeah, I'm working on the script, and, you know, it's been kind of a long time coming, but I think I'm getting a script that I like. I don't really like talking, because I'm not really sure what's happening yet, but I'm excited about it. I think, yes, finally for me, it's getting to be the right tone.

MTV: Have you and Johnny talked specifically about his take on Barnabas Collins, the vampire at the center of the series?

Burton: Yeah, we've been talking about it. I mean, he's finishing up another movie, but we've had a couple of really good meetings. Yeah, you know, I'm excited.

MTV: Have you started shooting "Frankenweenie"?

We just started a couple of shots. It 's good. We've got a pretty low budget, but I'm excited about it. We've got a couple of shots that are done. Yeah, it's just starting. It's great.

Interview: Burton on Four Upcoming Projects

MTV News had a brief interview with Tim Burton in which he discussed four of his upcoming projects, Dark Shadows (due to begin production in April 2011), Frankenweenie (which has begun some test shots in London), an animated version of The Addams Family and Maleficent (both in development with Burton attached as a potential director). While there is no entirely new information, we do get the hear the status of these projects from the man himself:

It sounds like you'll be shooting "Dark Shadows" with Johnny [Depp] soon?

Burton: Yeah, I'm working on the script, and, you know, it's been kind of a long time coming, but I think I'm getting a script that I like. I don't really like talking because I'm not really sure what's happening yet but I'm excited about it. I think, yes, finally for me, it's getting to be the right tone.

MTV: Have you and Johnny talked specifically about his take on Barnabas?

Burton: Yeah, we've been talking about it. I mean, He's finishing up another movie, but we've had a couple of really good meetings. Yeah, you know, I'm excited.

MTV: Have you started shooting "Frankenweenie"?

We just started a couple of shots. It's good. We've got a pretty low budget, but I'm excited about it. We've got a couple of shots that are done. Yeah, it's just starting. It's great.

MTV: Is it exciting to revisit that story?

Burton: We're changing it a little bit. I wouldn't do it if it felt like it was just doing the same thing. For me, it's about trying to go back to the original drawings and kind of capture that spirit a little bit more of what the drawings are. It feels different even though it's a similar story, but we're kind of expanding it a bit.

MTV: You're also working on "The Addams Family"?

Burton: Yeah, I've always been a big fan of the drawings, the key thing with that is to capture the spirit of the original artwork.

And that will be in black and white?

Burton: Yeah, that's the goal... to just capture what he did.

MTV: I spoke to Angelina Jolie recently, and she said she's a huge fan of yours and is anxious to make "Maleficent" with you.

I'd love to work with her. We're working on a script for that. It's hard to know when that script will be ready. But I'm a huge fan, I'd love to work with her -- so, yeah, that would be a good one.

Interview: Burton on his Art, Personal Films

Reuters had an interview with Tim Burton to discuss his huge art retrospective. The art exhibition will be making its third stop in Toronto International Film Festival's TIFF Bell Lightbox on November 26th, and will remain there until mid-April.

Q: How does it feel to be honored like this?

A: "It's a very strange thing because usually this stuff happens when you're dead. This doesn't usually happen when you're still going, so it is quite an honor and strange because it's stuff I never expected to be up on a wall somewhere."

Q: Some of your original drawings and concepts are featured. What's it like for you to see scraps of paper with a drawing on it or an old letter you wrote on display?

A: "I never really went to museums, so the idea felt like an out of body experience. It didn't feel like me. It's kind of like "Oh, there's my dirty socks hanging on the wall." There's something strange about it. But I felt like I was in very good hands with (MoMA). I felt like they were presenting me in a way that made it more comfortable...cause I'd never thought I'd look at this stuff ever again. It's just strange, which is fine. I don't mind strange feelings."

Q: Going through the exhibit, your characters are somewhat bizarre and scary, but they are beautiful and often vulnerable at the same time. Is that how you view people and the world?

A: "I always liked the mixture of things. I always feel like things are never one thing. Funny and sad, pretty and ugly. Most are always a combination of things, so it's my way of juxtapositioning things that shouldn't necessarily be together. But that's what makes up everybody, really."

Q: When you look back at your own career, what films are you most proud of?

A: "Each one you spend time with so they're all a part of you. Even the ones that weren't successful, they're still a part of you. But there are certain films like 'Edward Scissorhands' that are more personal to me because the themes in that movie were very strong, personal feelings that were being explored when I was a teenager. 'Ed Wood,' the main character from the movie, is a character I kind of related to in terms of delusional qualities. I like 'Sweeney Todd' because he didn't say very much. With every character you try to find something personal in it."

Q: In the exhibit, there are sketches of projects that didn't get made, projects like "Trick or Treat". Will you be revisiting these projects any time in the near future?

A: "Not necessarily. At that time when I was doing those projects I was thrown in a room working on random projects. Some were more developed than others; some were ideas that Disney was thinking about. So a lot of that stuff became like a grey area to me. It's one of the things I like about the way they presented the exhibition because it shows the weird crossover of how things start out more abstractly and how one little sketch might turn into something for a bigger idea. It shows the weird process."

Q: Do you start with an image and develop it into a story?

A: "Often times, yes. I was never a very verbal person so I do a lot of thinking through sketches and doodles or drawings or whatever. I think coming from an animation background you tend to think visually, rather than intellectually."

Q: And how do you find your muse? Do you create a character based on an idea or one based on a particular actor or person?

A: "You try to keep open to things whether it's a person, an animal, a thing, a feeling, the weather. Whatever it is, the key is to always try to be open to see things differently."

No 'Alice' Sequel for Burton

Although the film was a massive success (making over $1 billion at the worldwide box office), Tim Burton said that he will not be making a sequel based on Alice in Wonderland, says

Burton has only done one sequel before, and that was Batman Returns after Batman. Even though he enjoyed making Batman Returns more than the original, Burton has said that he generally does not like making sequels. "That's what the material does, it leaves it open for you," he said about the ending. "It's kind of like dreams. It leaves it open, as it should, for interpretation."

The director said that some stories simply don't need second installments. "I got a lot of pressure to do a sequel to 'Nightmare Before Christmas,' and I just didn't want to do that, because some movies should just be left alone. I think it keeps their kind of spirit intact in a way."

Fortunately, Disney did not pressure Burton to make a sequel to Alice. "That was smart of them. They saw that it was kind of its own thing," he explained. "They didn't push for it at all, which I thought was really amazing, and smart, and right."

Help Burton Write Story on Twitter

Tim Burton is making a unique appearance on the Internet. The filmmaker working on a project called Cadavre Exquis, which encourages people to help write a story involving his original character, Stainboy, via Twitter.

Burton wrote the first line: “Stainboy, using his obvious expertise, was called in to investigate mysterious glowing goo on the gallery floor ...”

Only the best lines will be selected, but you can give it a shot and contribute to the writing project at

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Elfman Interview: Burton 'Opened Every Door For Me'

Gina McIntyre of the Los Angeles Times' "Hero Complex" had an interview with Danny Elfman. In it, the composer discussed the collector's boxed set which chronicles his massive history of collaborations with Tim Burton, how working with Burton had had an impact on his career, what was particularly embarrassing to rediscover (and make available) when making this boxed set, and much more:

GM: How did this project originate?

DE: It’s so far out of my realm of what I know, collectors’ things like this. I’ve never owned one. It’s been a whole kind of learning experience. Richard Kraft, my agent, this is really his baby. I tried to explain that in the opening letter [included in the collection]: This isn’t the project of an agent doing something for his client, this is the product of a major film-music geek who lives for this kind of thing. We had many discussions. I was really resistant to putting on certain kinds of material I thought was private and trying to understand who it is that buys these things and what they’re like, slowly trying to get an understanding of the kind of person who really looks for the odd, the rare, the unreleased. I thought, what if Bernard Herrmann had done half a dozen more movies with Hitchcock over another 10 years. He’s the only composer out there that I would probably get a little nutty over. His career with Hitchcock I think of as this great collaboration, but it wasn’t that long. Then not only would I want the box set, I would want anything — if he sang into a tape recorder, I’d want it. I’d want everything. Using that as a model, I started finally to [think], I should let some of this stuff go, even though it’s embarrassing.

GM: How involved were you in the process of assembling the set? What embarrassed you exactly?

DE: They came to me with the idea. I just imagined it would be a collection of CDs. Only a couple of months ago really did [Richard] arrive, saying, we have our deadlines. I thought, oh my God, I have to edit and master 16 CDs. It was a huge amount of work. It’s really a good thing I didn’t think about what it would involve [beforehand]. … Everything anybody approaches me about that’s an extra anything, I go, “I don’t have time, I don’t have time.” I found myself in the middle of this huge thing. Richard and one of my assistants, they spent months combing through boxes and storage rooms. I write about this in the project. It’s very bizarre. There’s not a single thing I’ve collected over my entire lifetime that I haven’t saved — things that I shouldn’t, artifacts, things that I’ve come across — but I’ve never, ever saved a piece of music. Everything got thrown into trash bags and boxes and only because I think various assistants or housekeepers were afraid to throw it away — because I never gave any instructions about anything — it got dumped into storage rooms. I think I have seven storage rooms, none of which I’ve ever gone into. They just sifted through box after box.

In between an old box of unplayable synthesizer parts and old toys and books, there would be a box of cassettes, unmarked. … They spent months sifting through hundreds and hundreds of hours of old audio cassettes and DAT tapes. When they finally came to me a couple of months ago, it was like, “Alright, we’ve sifted through this stuff, but now, you’ve got to listen to everything.” Then there was the incredible experience of listening to 25 years worth of work, both released and unreleased.

When I was talking about the embarrassing part — my demos. I never expected one of my synth demos of a piece of music would ever be for anybody’s ears. There are two levels; there’s one I call a work tape, which is me working stuff out. … Work tape is getting to the point where I’d even play it for Tim. That was very strange. I’m not a composer that puts a lot of polish work into their demos. … I’m probably in the minority that doesn’t invest in really extensive libraries of stuff and/or have people that work with them just for that purpose of polishing up and making these demos really spiffy. Every demo, every work tape is my own hand. There are mistakes, bad notes, bad playing, and probably the most embarrassing thing is the early synth sounds back in the mid-’80s were really bad. By today’s standards, it would be like what you hear in a kid’s keyboard. In the middle ’80s, that’s kind of what there was. It’s embarrassing because everything’s of my own hand, and I’m not a great keyboardist, and the earlier they are, the more embarrassing they are.

GM: Are some things more embarrassing for you than others?

DE: The demo for “Batman” is an incredibly embarrassing thing. It wasn’t until the mid-’90s that suddenly these demos are becoming less cringe-worthy for me, somewhere between the middle ’90s and 2000. The sounds just got better. In my opening letter, I try to say, you know how we look at old science-fiction movies with really cheesy special effects and go, well, that’s what they had. You can’t compare that to today. It’s the same with these. In the middle ’80s through the early ’90s, the sounds that we had to work with were what they were. You didn’t think about it at the time. It’s incredible for me to think now, this is a demo that I actually played for Jon Peters and Tim Burton to sell the “Batman” theme in 1989. Now it sounds so horribly bad, if you put it on, somebody would laugh. But at the time, everything kind of sounded like that. It was a lot better than banging on a piano and singing them a melody, which before that period, that’s really what you did. For “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” that’s what I did. I vowed I would never, ever do that again. I quickly embraced the technology to work up pieces of music to sound listenable. … I had one of the very first Macs ever, a very primitive version of what I have now, but the sounds available were very minimal. I remember I had a little box and it had strings long, strings short [laughs]. That’s it. Two string choices. Trumpets, French horns, trombones — one, one choice of each — and sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between the French horn and the trumpet because they all sound like car horns at a certain point. It was still, for a director, a lot better for them to understand what I’m doing than playing on a piano and trying to sing a melody.

I’ve always been a big proponent of working out my ideas that way so I can hear what I’m doing and what I’m playing [for the director] is really trying to be a facsimile of what he’s going to hear with the orchestra. As each year went along, [the demos] sounded more like what the orchestra was going to sound like. Today, it still doesn’t sound as good as an orchestra, but you can hear the whole progression from, I think the first demo is from 1987 [for] “Beetlejuice” and “Alice” being the last demos. That was the embarrassing part. I decided if I’m going to do that, I might as well put on the stuff that’s interesting to me, and the stuff that was interesting to me was the stuff that didn’t make it in the score. I did a lot of moments of purposely picking a piece of music that isn’t exactly the piece as you hear it in the movie. I guess once you open that door, you might as well embrace it and let the listener who is interested into the process of how I put something together. By the time I got to “Alice,” I did a thing where I picked the one thing, the “Alice” theme which was on the CD, and I did three other versions of it going backward — an earlier first orchestral attempt at something that never got used and two or three synthesized versions going back to where you could just hear the beginning of the melody and now you can hear the B part of the melody. Now you can hear the whole thing, and then you can hear it go to orchestra, and then you can hear the final thing. If one was so inclined, they could hear the development of a theme, how I work.

GM: In the culture that we live in now, where people listen to DVD commentaries and watch behind-the-scenes features so frequently, there would seem to be a real interest in seeing exactly how something like that comes together.

DE: I don’t know whether this type of person who’s really interested in this … level of minutiae and detail, whether it’s 10 people, hundreds or thousands, but it doesn’t matter. That’s who we put this together for. However many or few they are. The book, the same thing. At first I thought, this is going to be viewed as the most self-indulgent thing ever. I would die if I read that. Again, Richard was like, “No, no. … You have to think of this not as a biography but really extensive liner notes.”

GM: How much of an impact would you say your partnership with Tim has had on your composing career? Didn’t he initially come to you to ask you to score “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” before you had considered writing music for film?

DE: I’d never even thought of it. I was a film fan, and I was a film music fan. At that point, Bernard Herrmann was a god. I could listen to the scores of Max Steiner, Franz Waxman and [Erich] Korngold and identify them. I was really proud. I could hear something and go, “That’s definitely Max Steiner,” and Nina Roto was huge. I was a fan. Really it was almost like, the best way I can describe it, which I’ve often done: If you’re a basketball fan and you’ve always got court-side seats, you’re right there on the floor, and you know the game, and you’re a fan of the game, and you know the moves, you know the players, but you’re just a fan, and suddenly somebody threw you the ball and said, “Come on, get in the game.” This was a case of going, “Well, what’s the worst that could happen?” It was way off my radar, the idea of a fan becoming a player is not something a fan ever expects. My first reaction was actually to tell [Tim] no. I came home and met him, really liked him, I did an eight-track demo of a piece and sent it on a cassette, never expected to hear again, and two weeks later, I got the job. I said, “Tell him I can’t do it.”

Then I decided, I’ve never backed away from a challenge before, it’s on his shoulders if I blow it. It will be a lesson, don’t go to rock-and-roll guys for film scores. I did have this pre-Oingo Boingo background with the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo where I was writing music for an eight-piece ensemble. I decided if I could write for eight pieces, I could write for a dozen pieces. If you can write for a dozen pieces, you can write a film score. Even though my first score was 65 players, you’re not writing 65 parts. You’ve got groups, you’ve got your violins, you have your cello, you’ve got your trombone and your French horns. You’re not really necessarily writing for that many parts. Especially as I look back, it’s a good thing “Pee-wee” was a very simple score. That was the first thing that struck me when I listened to it because I hadn’t heard it in all these years.

Tim opened every door for me. Every score for the next 10 years opened up a new side of my career. “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” got me offered every quirky comedy … made in Hollywood. Out of the blue, I’m offered 10 movies, and they’re all kind of contemporary, slightly — some of them were not so quirky — comedies. Then “Beetlejuice.” Oh, fantasy, you can stretch out a bit more. Then “Batman,” that was the roughest of my career — the time where I really had to fight for something — [it was,] “Oh, do a big movie.” … Then “Edward Scissorhands” and it’s like, ah, well, romantic, sure. Every one of those was opening up another door. Suddenly, the offers after each of those would be of a more diverse nature. By the time I got to “Batman,” I wanted to keep doing it. I’d thought of my band as the day job, and this was my night job, my weekend job, my side project. By the time I got to “Batman,” it was like, no, I’m enjoying this and was putting a tremendous amount of time [into] trying to learn the craft. Tim used to joke in between each of his films, I was doing four. “Pee-wee” was one, “Beetlejuice” was five, “Batman” was 10, my 10th film. “Edward” didn’t quite make it to 15, I think it was 14 or 16 or something. He said, “How are you doing all of these films in between each of my films?” I told him, if I don’t, I’m not going to be able to do each of your films because each film was asking more of me. I didn’t want them all to be like “Pee-wee” with a different melody or different tone.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Interview: Tim Burton's Art Retrospective Coming to Toronto

The massive Tim Burton art retrospective, which began its highly successful tour at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City last year, will make its third stop at Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox. The exhibition will open at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on November 26th, and will remain until April 17th, 2011, when it leaves for Los Angeles.

Us Magazine had an interview with Noah Cowan
, the artistic director at the TIFF Bell Lightbox:

Q: First of all, tell Us about this marathon of movies called the “Burton Blitz.” It’s 36 hours, right? Sounds intense.
It starts with “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” at 6 PM on Friday November 26 and ends around 10 AM on Sunday November 28 with “Alice in Wonderland.” Not even a 10-minute break. I think the end credits is when you pee. Back to back to back. The concessions will be armed with lots of coffee and snacks to keep people going. We have people looking forward to it!

How many people do you expect at the Tim Burton show?
Our projections show about 100,000. But it got 275,000 visitors in Australia. And 700,000 in New York. We’re arming the barricades. Tourists from all over the world come to see it whereever it plays. I’m looking forward to the first day we let the public in. So they see how unique it is.

Why this director?
He speaks to our interest in how films and the visual arts interact. Through his sketches, you really understand him as an artist -- even better than you do watching the films. He’s a great example of a filmmaker whose background in visual arts has allowed him to expand what’s possible in the medium.

How will the show be different than the one that ran in NYC?
We are reorganizing it. MOMA followed the parameters of a drawing and painting show. It showed the development of his craft as a visual artist. But the TIFF Bell Lightbox is a film-based institution, so the principal arc of the show will follow his film career. We have a large side annex that allows you to go deeper into his creative genius. You enter the doors and go to the source of the genius. We’re calling that area “Burbank” because that’s where he was born. You see his creative genius flowing as he grew up in the suburbs of LA. His upbringing was really central to the originality of his art.

We see you’re doing some really fun double bills.
We’re pairing his movies with unexpected influences. Alice in Wonderland is paired with John Waters’ Desperate Living. Another is the 1963 Jason and the Argonauts and Burton’s James and the Giant Peach. It’s been really fun putting it together. Some are more obvious, too – like Nosferatu and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

You’ll have lots of activities and workshops for kids too, right?
Every Saturday while it runs, kids can participate in activities like creating their own Burton-inspired creatures, or dabbling in stop-motion animation. Kids will be able to watch a clip of The Nightmare Before Christmas and create their own Jack -- and their own story. The various floors will all have presentations and exhibitions and areas for kids. We want families to be able to engage in all those activities, see a film retrospective and engage in hands-on youth activities. We suspect this will be really popular around Christmas.

Finally, we hear Tim Burton’s creating something original for your window?
He’s creating a special Christmas monster for us. It’s loosely based on a character from an abandoned project. All we know is it’s going to be a creature and he’ll be devouring Christmas. We’re working with the Tim Burton studio now to see if he’ll keep munching through various holidays.

"Dark Shadows" Filming Begins April 2011

After being pushed back multiple times, Dark Shadows will officially begin filming in April 2011, says Deadline Hollywood. That means the film, which will be starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton, will be released sometime in 2012 (the release date has not yet been announced, so it's possible that the shooting time will be pushed back again).