Friday, February 25, 2011

Video: "TiM," a Stop-Motion Tribute to Burton

Ken Turner's TiM:

TiM from Ken Turner on Vimeo.

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 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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pfeiffer Returns for "Dark Shadows"?

Michelle Pfeiffer is in negotiations to reteam with Tim Burton on Dark Shadows, says the Hollywood Reporter. The actress and the director have not worked together since Batman Returns in 1992, when she played Catwoman/Selina Kyle.

Although it is not confirmed if she will be in the film, Pfeiffer would probably play Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, "the reclusive matriarch of the Collins family which runs the Maine town."

Dark Shadows is intended to begin shooting this April.

Photo Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Christopher Lee Honored at BAFTAs

Helena Bonham Carter, Christopher Lee, and Tim Burton at the BAFTAs

The legendary Christopher Lee was honored at the BAFTA awards ceremony this year, receiving the Academy Fellowship. Tim Burton presented the award to the master thespian, and Lee accepted the honor with grace and humbleness. Lee has worked with Burton on Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, and Alice in Wonderland.

Here is a video of Burton's introduction and Lee's gracious acceptance speech:

Check out another video of Lee's reflecting on his numerous roles as playing bad guys and monsters over the years

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Official “Frankenweenie” Synopsis, Details

Walt Disney Studios has released an official synopsis and production notes of the forthcoming stop-motion film, Frankenweenie. Collider provides us with these details, which includes the majority of the voice-over cast, that the film will be shot in black and white and shown in 3D, and that the film has required the construction of over 200 puppets and sets.

Following is Disney's officially released information:

Genre: Comedy adventure
Rating: TBD
U.S. Release date: October 5, 2012
Voice Cast: Winona Ryder, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer
Director: Tim Burton
Producers: Tim Burton, Allison Abbate
Executive Producer: Don Hahn
Screenplay by: John August
Based on an original idea by: Tim Burton
From creative genius Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland,” The Nightmare Before Christmas”) comes “Frankenweenie,” a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.
A stop-motion animated film, “Frankenweenie” will be filmed in black and white and rendered in 3D, which will elevate the classic style to a whole new experience.
In Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.

• When Tim Burton originally conceived the idea for “Frankenweenie,” he envisioned it as a full-length, stop-motion animated film. Due to budget constraints, he instead directed it as a live-action short, released in 1984.
• “Frankenweenie” follows in the footsteps of Tim Burton’s other stop-motion animated films “Corpse Bride” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”—both of which were nominated for Academy Awards.
• Over 200 puppets and sets were created for the film.
• The voice cast includes four actors who worked with Burton on previous films: Winona Ryder (“Beetlejuice,” “Edward Scissorhands”), Catherine O’Hara (“Beetlejuice,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas”), Martin Short (“Mars Attacks!”) and Martin Landau (“Ed Wood,” Sleepy Hollow”).
• Several of the character names—Victor, Elsa Van Helsing, Edgar “E” Gore and Mr. Burgermeister— were inspired by classic horror films.

Robin McLeavy for Mary Todd

LatinoReview reveals that Robin McLeavy will be playing Mary Todd in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. She will be the wife of Benjamin Walker’s Abe Lincoln. In the script, McLeavy’s character is described as a “petite 20 year old brunette,” so the casting seems appropriate for this very stylized thriller featuring a historical character.

LatinoReview also states that Dominican Cooper will play Henry Sturges (Abe's mentor), and Anthony Mackie will play Abe's best friend Will.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rick Heinrichs on "Dark Shadows"

Production designer Rick Heinrichs and Tim Burton go way, way back. Although you're certainly familiar with their collaborations on The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sleepy Hollow, and Planet of the Apes (to name a few), the two began working together as film students in the 1980s, and projects such as Hansel and Gretel and Vincent. Now, they're teaming up again for Dark Shadows.

Heinrichs spoke with Blog of Dark Shadows recently:

BLOG OF DARK SHADOWS: What are your overall feelings about becoming a part of the project; what made you say yes?

I’m a fan of Tim’s movies as well a colleague and I’m delighted to be working with him again. I also love the genre of this film.

BLOG OF DARK SHADOWS: Were you a fan of the original series or the ’91 revival?

RICK HEINRICHS: I was aware of Dark Shadows growing up for the fact that a lot of kids were running home from school to watch the series in the afternoon. It seemed an odd subject to me for a soap opera. Now of course I realize the brilliance of showcasing it as a soap: the interplay of extreme emotions pouring from the different characters brought about by this courtly vampire in their midst. I also noticed that a majority of the fans seemed to be female and I wondered what was up with that. Obviously this was before I realized that the opposite sex could be romantically attracted to the doomed bad boy. Or was it bat-boy? At that time, I was looking at horror comics like Creepy and Eerie and the work of Jim Steranko and others. That’s where I first experienced the pleasure of stories that recognized the fine line between humor and horror.

BLOG OF DARK SHADOWS: Does the experience of Sleepy Hollow serve as a kind of stepping stone for this film? Of all of Tim Burton’s films, it is the one that most closely hits on the whole Dark Shadows feeling, I think.

RICK HEINRICHS: Sleepy Hollow was the story of a rational man’s journey into the irrational. We intentionally wanted Ichabod Crane’s investigation in upstate New York to have a progressively dreamlike quality ultimately leading to a nightmare. While the two movies do share certain genre aspects as well as the male lead, it’s certainly going to be a different feeling film.

BLOG OF DARK SHADOWS: Do you envision it being a challenge capturing visual elements of that show, yet updating it for the modern audience, or is it a completely different kettle of fish?

RICK HEINRICHS: It’s not a completely different kettle of fish. The reason [we're] doing Dark Shadows to a degree is to explore and relish what was great about that series and the character of Barnabas Collins, and we intend to make it a world the series’ many fans will enjoy.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Eva Green for "Dark Shadows"

Eva Green

Casting is underway for Burton's forthcoming Dark Shadows adaptation. Deadline reveals that Eva Green, well-known for her role as the "Bond girl" Vesper Lynd in 2006's Casino Royale, is negotiating to play the role of Angelique, the female lead. Angelique is the love interest of Barnabas Collins, the vampire who will be played by Johnny Depp.

In related news, Jackie Earle Haley and Bella Heathcoate are also in talks to play prominent roles in the fantasy drama. Haley will likely play Willie Loomis, and Heathcoate will likely be Victoria Winters, the young governess of the Collins estate.

Dark Shadows is intended to finally begin production this Spring.

Bella Heathcoate

Jackie Earle Haley