Do you find it ironic that Nightmare has become a Disney property when it was originally released as a Touchstone Picture? When did you start seeing the shift with Disney embracing the film?
Henry Selick: "Yes. Nightmare was just too different from what Disney was having success with. Although I don't think Walt Disney himself would have had a problem with it being labeled a Disney film. Just check out some of the sequences from Fantasia, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ward Kimball's goons and monsters in Sleeping Beauty etc. and you'll see Nightmare and its characters were carrying on in the same tradition. While it took some time, about 7 years ago when the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland was transformed into a Nightmare extravaganza, we then felt we were truly loved by the Disney label."
Who is your personal favorite character in Nightmare Before Christmas?
Henry Selick: "The one I'm closest to is Jack Skellington because, as a director, you often have to act out various characters for your animators. Since I resemble Jack Skellington more than the other characters, I think more of my gestures got into Jack."
Was there resistance at first to do Nightmare as stop-motion instead of cel animation?
Henry Selick: "There was resistance to doing it at all at first. When Tim first pitched it to Disney in the early 1980s, there was resistance to the project in any medium. But 10 years later when the film was made, there was never an issue about it being stop-motion. It was simply a case of that is how Tim conceived it."
How early in the process was Oogie Boogie developed?
Henry Selick: "Oogie started out as the size of a pillowcase and not that scary or evil or important, but as the story developed I felt the need to grow him in both his scale and his role. Ultimately, Danny Elfman's Oogie Boogie song is what truly defined his character as the villain and Jack's role was fully defined as a misguided hero."
How difficult was it to do the Oogie Boogie sequence? With all the neon, it seems like it was one of the more complicated set pieces in the film. If not, what was the most difficult sequence to achieve?
Henry Selick: "It was not the neon that was difficult. It was Oogie Boogie himself. He was a huge puppet, very difficult to muscle around. It was almost as if he was trying to push back while you were animating him."
Was there a character created for Nightmare that you loved that never made it past the conceptual stage?
Henry Selick: "No, we were desperate to flesh out the town. After you go through the mummy and vampires etc it gets slim. We used everything we came up with."
What was the most intricate scene to complete?
Henry Selick: "While virtually every bit of the stop-motion animation was challenging, there were several particularly difficult scenes to pull off. One began where Jack is shot out of the sky with his Skellington reindeer flying over head and being shot down and lands in the arms of the angel statue in a graveyard and goes on to sing a song there while the camera continuously circles him. The opening song of the film This is Halloween was monstrously challenging as it introduced all the Halloween Town monsters to the audience."Have you ever considered returning to the world of Nightmare Before Christmas?
Henry Selick: "There has been discussions over the years about a possible sequel. When those discussions came up about 7 years ago, it was unsettling that it was suggested this time it would have to be done in CG. I'm glad that did not happen. But as far as coming up ideas for a sequel, you have to admit there are a lot of other great holidays for Jack Skellington to take over."
What was the biggest lesson you carried away from the Nightmare Before Christmas experience?
Henry Selick: "When possible always work with geniuses like Tim Burton who are not only creatively inspiring, but in his case also have the clout to protect the film from the studio system."
You can read the full interview here.