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‘Frankenweenie’ Interview: Five Things We Learned From Tim Burton

Walt Disney Pictures
At Fantastic Fest 2012, we sat down for a chat with legendary director Tim Burton who was there for the world premiere of his film 'Frankenweenie.' As star Winona Ryder would later admit, this is very much a movie about Tim Burton. It's a very personal project and we learned a lot about the film talking to Burton for a few minutes. Like the one thing he has never done and never will do. Take a look below at five things we learned from Tim Burton, check Movieline for even more from our Burton chat and see 'Frankenweenie' in theaters this weekend!


1

'Frankenweenie' is Filled With Easter Eggs and Nods to Classic Horror Films

 
 

From 'Frankenstein' to 'Godzilla,' 'Frankenweenie' is filled with clever little nods to many of the classic horror movies Burton himself grew up watching. "Here’s my relationship to monster movies. Like Boris Karloff and dubbed Japanese science fiction monster movies, you know? All of that plays into it in terms of it going back through a sort of memory filter."
And in addition to classic monster movies, there are also plenty of Easter eggs for fans of Burton's film. In the grainy photo above, you can see a local newspaper that has mentions of Edward Scissorhands ("Man With Scissorhands Wins International Topiary Contest"), Willy Wonka and 'Big Fish.'
Burton was careful though not to let these mentions get carried away. "There are lots of references and I was always trying to monitor it. I tried to really analyze it and say, Okay – even though these things are important to me and part of it, I tried to make sure none of it had to be a prerequisites to enjoying it, keeping it the simple boy and his dog, and family and neighborhood story, a story about people."

 
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2

The Movie Characters Are Based on Real Kids From Burton's Childhood

 
 

As we mentioned above, the film is very personal to Tim Burton and very much based on his own life. Down to all the supporting characters.
"There was a weird girl, and there was a Nassor, there was a Toshiaki, and there was an Edgar. All of them. Some of them are almost 100 percent real people, but there are a couple of mixtures of a couple into one."
And, like in the movie, Burton's father was a baseball coach who tried to get his son to play on the Little League team.

 
edgar1
3

Burton Was Especially Nervous to Show 'Frankenweenie' to an Audience

 
 

Because this was such a personal film, Burton was nervous to watch 'Frankenweenie' for the first time at the premiere.
"I always get a bit scared....With this movie I feel very strongly about, which also makes it scarier. You always feel a bit exposed when a movie comes out and you wish you could enjoy it more. But with this I’m going to try to strap myself in and tie my arms down, clockwork orange style, and watch the movie."
For the record, we saw Burton in the theater watching along with the enthusiastic crowd and he made it through just fine.

 
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4

Burton Has Been Dreaming About a 'Frankenweenie' Film For Many Years

 
 

As you can see in the image above, it was a long time ago that Tim Burton directed his live-action 'Frankenweenie' short for Disney; 1984, to be exact. And in the 28 years since then, he's had kids of his own and had a lot of time to think about how to make that short into the perfect movie.
"When you have kids, it expands your perspective on things and you start thinking about things that maybe you wouldn’t have thought about in the same way, exploring memories and things. You get involved with other things and take the time to go back and dream about that, or think about that. But also just having the time and without the pressure, to kind of let a project develop over years – it gives you the time to dream about it."

 
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5

Tim Burton Will Not Sing Karaoke

 
 

Sorry karaoke fans. While you might see Bill Murray crash your sing-along, don't expect to see Tim Burton doing karaoke anytime soon. Says Burton, "It’s one thing I’ve never done – maybe the only thing I’ve never done." And why is that? "I’ve never been drunk enough."

 
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