Ken Turner's TiM:
Animator Ken Turner has been a fan of Tim Burton's films for many years. In an ultimate tribute to the filmmaker, Turner made TiM, a short stop-motion film in the style of Mr. Burton's own short film, Vincent, which was an homage to his own childhood idol, Vincent Price. After years in the making, Turner's TiM is gathering recognition, making the rounds online and in film festivals.
I spoke with Mr. Turner to learn more about the making of his animated tribute.
When did you first come up with this project?
In 2002, I came up with the idea when I was in my second year of college at Sheridan taking art fundamental courses and was applying to get into the animation program. Every year there would be screenings of the animation graduates final year films. So I knew that if I got in that I'd have to come up with a film idea in my final year. It was one night out of the blue when I woke up and scribbled down on a scrap piece of paper something like "boy who wants to be like tim burton.....like vincent". I probably still have the piece of paper somewhere in a box. It was to be somewhat a "re-imagining" of the story of "Vincent" but for a generation who were brought up on Tim Burton films, just as Tim grew up watching Vincent Price films. I wanted it to be a auto-biography/biography type film by pulling things that I read about Tim Burton's childhood and from my own childhood. One of the first things I read was about how he convinced the other kids in the neighborhood that aliens had landed and started a war. So I tried to build a narrative around those kind of elements.
When did you begin production?
Before actually production began, I was able to work on the film in my spare time during my years prior to getting into the animation program and after. During that time I was able to work out all the character designs, the poem, the storyboards and what equipment I was going to need to film it. From September 2006 to April 2007 was when actually production of the armatures of the characters, set/prop construction and the shooting of the animation began. I was very fortunate to have a lot of friends and colleagues who were able to come in and give their time by making sets, props, costumes or animating a scene. The production of the film was done in the basement of the house I was living in during college. It was nicknamed "The Batcave" because it was very dark and not alot of natural light got in. There were spiders and spider webs on ceilings, mice would get in sometimes but I like to think it all added to the atmosphere while making the film.
Was this your first time working in the medium of stop-motion animation?
I had never worked in stop motion before but I had visited a stop motion studio in Toronto and was very inspired by that experience. I had made a traditional animated short film prior which was called "Attack of the Giant Vegetable Monsters". I believe that film was very important to make in order to get "TiM" made because I was able to see first hand all the things that needed to be done for an animated short film to get made. During school there were not a lot of stop motion films being made. They were either traditional or 3D, and stop motion wasn't taught either. So all my education was from books or films. The behind the scenes featurettes from the films of Ray Harryhausen, Tim Burton, Henry Selick were invaluable in the production of "TiM". I think now Sheridan has alot of stop-motion films coming out every year and there is even classes/facilities for students to make films at school.
How do you think Tim Burton's work have affected your films?
I believe his work has had a very meaningful impact on my films and art. I think what I get from his films is how personal they are. So that made me think about making films very differently and how cathartic they can made. "TiM" was definitely a way for me to express my thoughts about growing up but at the same time showing how much those films mean to me.
What is the future of your short film, "TiM"?
Hopefully I can keep it on the web and let have its own life online. During February 2011 it played at the New York LES (Lower East Side) Film Festival as an opening night selection and an animation night selection. I'll keep pursuing other ways for people to see it like film festivals which can always breath new life into it and let it be seen by new audiences worldwide.
You can learn more about Ken Turner and TiM in the following links:
Ken Turner's Blog
Ken Turner's Vimeo Profile
TiM Film Production Blog