Friday, December 31, 2010

Burton in Jerry Rees' 'Basement'

Animator and director Jerry Rees has posted some intriguing archival material onto his official website. In his "Basement" section, Rees has posted some of his collaborations with Tim Burton from the late 1970s and early 1980s in California.

Here are three photos Rees shot with Burton as his subject:

Rees also posted two live-action shorts that he co-directed with Burton.

Doctor of Doom (1979), a parody of Mexican horror films, overdubbed by Brad Bird (director of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille).

Luau (1982), featuring animation artists Joe Ranft, John Musker, Sue Kroyer, and many others.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Video: "Superman Lives" Costume Test Footage

Special effects artist Steve Johnson has posted a video on YouTube of some costume tests for Superman Lives:

Video Interview: Danny Elfman

ARTISTdirect has an exclusive interview with Danny Elfman. There's also a special video from Elfman in which the composer talks about his earliest film music influences (especially Bernard Herrmann), stories behind making some of his most iconic music for Tim Burton's films, some of his favorite Burton characters, and much more. Click here to watch the video!

Here is the interview:

Is your music more inspired by a film's characters or the script? What exerts a heavier influence on your musical choices?

Well, I only tried working off the script once with Beetlejuice because I had some extra time and I thought I'd get a head start. Not one note I'd written from the script survived into the movie so I learned, especially with Tim Burton's films, never to anticipate what the movie's actually going to be like. The script is always one part of what's going to make a Tim Burton movie. I wait until I have a movie to look at, and I try to look at it with as blank of a mind as I possibly can—no expectations and no preconceived notions of what it's going to be.

Do you feel like you get especially close to each character, whether it's Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas or Batman?

Yeah, in the same manner that Tim clearly gets close to certain characters in his movies, I end up gravitating exactly the same way. There's no way not to—whether it's The Penguin or Catwoman. It doesn't matter who it is! It could be The Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow. You just gravitate towards a certain thing, and you find that's what pulling you along. Sometimes, you don't know what it's going to be. In Big Fish, clearly I was trying to follow the trajectory of the story and the main character but thematically I kept falling back to this mermaid character that we meet in this early fantasy that becomes a theme for Helena Bonham Carter's character later. I don't know why, but I just kept getting drawn to that as a common theme which carried me through. I never know where it's going to come from. It just does what it does.

On the box set, there's a fantastic piece called "Herrmann-esque Thing," it's a worktape from Batman. Is Bernard Herrmann someone you've always looked up to?

Well, he's the reason that I got into film music. When I met Tim on Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, I was in a band. It never occurred to me to become a film composer, but I was a fan of film music since about age eleven. I owe that strictly to Bernard Herrmann. I loved his scores. I think I was about eleven-years-old when I heard the score to The Day the Earth Stood Still, and it's the first time I noticed film music and a name. I realized, "This isn't just there. Somebody actually did it." Herrmann was always my god in terms of my love of film music.

It's interesting how everything culminated on his score for Taxi Driver.

More than interesting, it's incredible. I'll never be Herrmann in my life time, but he's the model I would strive for just in terms of the use of being inventive, melody and emotional content.

Do you have particular memories about the Sleepy Hollow score?

Yeah, it was just really fun. I didn't really know exactly what I was going to do with it. Once again, the main theme of "The Headless Horseman" wasn't The Horseman's first theme that I wrote. It became "Ichabod Crane's Childhood Theme." I ended up with this theme for him as a child and it started just following him. I just learned somewhere along the way never to argue with those impulses because they're doesn't have to be rhyme or reason. Nothing has to make sense. In fact, sometimes it's better that it doesn't. I'll look back later and go, "Well, I could see psychologically how this would've fit with this." At the time, I'm not thinking that way at all. It just kept coming back. I loved The Headless Horseman. I was incredibly proud of Tim because it's the first time he did a villain that was really a villain. He had no redeeming qualities. Normally, we love Tim's villains. They're usually the characters we associate with. The Headless Horsemen just cut off heads. There was no sense like, "Oh the poor guy, look at him stumbling around his house knocking everything over because he can't see anything while he's trying to make his cereal in the morning." [Laughs] He was a monster. When he killed that family and pulled up that little kid from under the planks, I was so proud of Tim [Laughs].

Music's the perfect way to get close to those emotions. It's the language of emotion.

Well, I guess! I'm never sure what I'm exactly tapping into when I'm doing it. I think that's for other people to judge better than me. I just go with it. With Tim's movies in particular, wherever he goes, I try to go.

How similar are orchestral music and rock 'n' roll?

They may complement each other, but not writing the music. They couldn't be farther apart. The years I had being in the band, I had to unlearn everything I'd done with them and move backwards in time to when I used to be in this musical theater group. Your sense with a band is always verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus—like that. When you're writing orchestral music, you have to get that out of your head really quick. There are so many places to go. You don't really a verse and a chorus. You have themes. There are limitless ways to present those themes. It doesn't really help. In a weird way, I think it's almost detrimental. I was able to figure it out, mostly due to my early studying of film scores. Although I wasn't actually studying, I was in my mind studying the scores of Herrmann, Max Steiner, Franz Waxman and, of course, Nino Rota who was also a huge influence on me and really inspired the score to Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

Is there a score that really sticks out for you?

It's a hard to pick a favorite. Listening back to everything, which was a very weird experience, there were bits of different scores where I was like, "Oh, I really like that moment." If I had to pick an overall score, it might be Edward Scissorhands. Probably, if nothing else, because it was following the intensity of Batman and we were totally left to our own in this weird world. I had no model, as I never seem to have, of what type of music will fit his films. It's just a score that I still have very fond memories. It was a very simple experience working on that film with him.

"Alice" Nominated for 3 Golden Globes

Alice in Wonderland has been nominated for three Golden Globe awards:

Best Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical: Johnny Depp

Best Original Score - Motion Picture: Danny Elfman

The 68th Annual Golden Globes will be broadcast on Sunday, January 16, 2011 live on NBC Television at 5 PM PST and 8 PM EST.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Video: Tim Burton on "The Hour"

Tim Burton was on "The Hour" with George Stroumboulopoulos on CBC. You can watch the full interview on the official website of the CBC program.

Here are two excerpts, in which Burton discusses his love of monster movies, moving in with his right-wing grandma at age 10, and his return to Frankenweenie:

Depp on "Dark Shadows" Progress

In his recent interview with Vanity Fair, Johnny Depp briefly mentioned the current state of his upcoming collaboration with Tim Burton, Dark Shadows:

"That's something I want to do. The script is close now, really close, and, you know, it's just a question of myself and Tim and the writer [Seth Grahame-Smith], basically the three of us, getting together and signing off on various scenarios. But it's really gotten good. In the last three weeks, it's gotten fuckin' good."

Photograph by Annie Leibovitz. Styled by Jessica Diehl.

Twitter-Made Stainboy Story Complete

Tim Burton's recent Stainboy story experiment -- in which fans contributed to the writing of the short story via Twitter -- is now complete. Check out the entire story on the official website.

More "Superman Lives" Artwork, Costume Tests

Special effects artist Steve Johnson has posted more photos and artwork from Tim Burton's ill-fated Superman Lives project on his Facebook profile. Here are a few samples:

Saturday, December 04, 2010

"Alice in Wonderland" 3D Four-Disc Combo Pack

Alice in Wonderland will be released in a four-disc combo pack on Tuesday, December 7th. The set will include the film on Blu-ray, a copy on Blu-ray 3D (in case you have a 3D television), DVD, and a digital copy on the fourth disc, with 1080p video, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, and all of the same previously released supplements (although the Blu-ray 3D disc will be a bare-bones). The suggested retail price for the Alice in Wonderland combo pack will be $49.99.

Here's a sample of one of the special features, Scoring Wonderland, in which Tim Burton and Danny Elfman discuss the making of the film's music:

Here is a list of the special features, courtesy of Those special features shared with the DVD release include:

Finding Alice – It’s all things Alice. This featurette includes Tim Burton’s vision for the characters, differences from the book and Disney’s version of Alice and how she evolves as both a character and actor as she takes an adventure through Wonderland.

The Mad Hatter – Audiences are provided with a deeper look into the world of the Mad Hatter. Check out Johnny Depp’s early sketches, make-up, costumes and how they digitally enhanced his eyes.

Effecting Wonderland – A behind-the-scenes piece on the different technologies used to create some of the most beloved characters in the film – Stayne, Tweedledee, Tweedledum, Bandersnatch and the Red Queen.

Blu-ray exclusives will include:

The Futterwacken Dance – Futterwhat? Check out the making of the timeless dance called the Futterwacken.

The Red Queen – The creation of the Red Queen from start to finish, including early Tim Burton sketches showcasing costume designs, make-up and digital effects.

Time-Lapse: Sculpting the Red Queen – A short time-lapse piece showing Helena Bonham Carter as she gets her make-up done. A three-hour process can be watched in just a few short minutes.

The White Queen – An interview with Anne Hathaway, who plays Wonderland’s good queen, about her character’s journey throughout the process of the film.

Scoring Wonderland – Composer Danny Elfman and Tim Burton discuss the music for the movie.

Stunts of Wonderland – A featurette highlighting some of the biggest stunts in the film.

Making the Proper Size – An inside look at the visual effects process of growing and shrinking Alice. See how filmmakers used different techniques to stay true to the storyline.

Cakes of Wonderland – Take a trip to “Cake Divas” where the creators of the EAT ME cakes provide viewers with details about how they made the smallest crumb to the largest cake in scale.

Tea Party Props
– Tea cups, saucers, cakes and more. Prop master Doug Harlocker gives an overview of all the props used to bring the famous tea party scene together visually.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Video: Burton on Stop-Motion, Student Film

At the TIFF Bell Lightbox, student animator Kevin Parry had a chance to show Tim Burton his latest project, The Arctic Circle. Burton then reviewed the film on stage, and discussed his appreciation of and experiences with the medium of stop-motion animation.

You can watch Parry's film here:

The Arctic Circle from Kevin Parry on Vimeo.

And you can watch Burton's reaction here:

Tim Burton on The Arctic Circle and Stop-Motion Animation from Kevin Parry on Vimeo.

Helena Bonham Carter on Burton, Shrunken Heads

Helena Bonham Carter spoke with Lorraine Cwelich of NYMag's Vulture. You can read the full interview here, in whch she discusses many topics, such as the latest Harry Potter movie and the highly anticipated The King's Speech, in which she plays Queen Elizabeth. Here is the excerpt on Tim Burton:

So your husband, Tim Burton … actually, not your husband. How do you refer to Tim: your life partner, significant other, boyfriend?
I don’t know; I haven’t got a satisfactory word! Father of my bastards, perhaps?

Do you feel like he has a separate language with Johnny Depp than you share?
They definitely go back a long, long way. They have a lot to bond them apart from the fact that they’ve known each other so long and they’ve got an intuitive understanding of each other. And they have all that cultural reference that I have no idea about; they were brought up on the same diet of television and just culturally American. So most of the time I have no idea what they’re having a laugh about. And also there’s a lot of things that I just don’t find funny — boys’ humor. So Johnny and I sort of have our friendship separate from Tim and his relationship.

How do you two connect since you don’t have all those cultural references in common?
Well, he’s the godfather of our children, so pretty much just like two normal human beings. We have similar tastes in certain things; we like dressing up, camouflaging ourselves.

Do Tim and Johnny bring out the darker part of your personality?
No, they’re not really that dark.

Okay, Corpse Bride?
Maybe artistically they are. With Tim, when I saw some of his drawings, I was like, "Oh, Jesus, it’s a bit disturbing." And he said, "No, no, you’d be disturbed if I couldn’t draw." If you get rid of it, you exorcise it. It’s therapeutic. They’re very happy, smiling, shiny people! Especially since having children, they are.

Depp does have those John Wayne Gacy clown paintings …
Oh yeah, he’s got that stuff. And Tim’s got a few shrunken heads.

Actual shrunken heads?

Oh, yes.

You don’t mind them being in your house?

I’m not worried about the shrunken heads because I don’t know where they are, actually.

Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images