While Tim Burton is known for his numerous imaginative films such as "Edward Scissorhands" and "The Nightmare before Christmas," for his new animated horror film, he says the inspiration was completely drawn from his own childhood experiences.
Burton, 54, sat down with OTRC.com correspondent Tony Cabrera to talk about his new spooky film, "Frankenweenie," which opened in theaters on October 5 - just in time for Halloween.
The film is about a young man named Victor, voiced by Charlie Tahan, who is conducting a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life. During his attempts, Victor is faced with unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences. The film also features the voices of Catherine O'Hara, Winona Ryder, Martin Landau, Atticus Shaffer and Martin Short.
Check out five facts about Burton, his childhood dog Peppy and the process of directing an animated film.
1. Tim Burton had a childhood dog named Pepe.
"Yeah, I've had a couple of dogs, you know, I mean obviously, it's sort of a wishful film," Burton told OTRC.com. "That's why it was so easy to relate to the Frankenstein story - you know that first, it's so emotional that connection you have with your first pet, and with the dog I had, had this thing where he wasn't meant to live for very long - so there was always this weird specter that he wasn't going to be around for very long - so I think that's where the whole kind of Frankenstein, wish fulfillment side of it came into it."
2. Burton tried to base aspects of "Frankenweenie" on "old memories."
"The thing about this - this was a project that was quite easy to do, because it was based on old memories," Burton continued. "I tried to base everything on, whether it's kids that I remember in school, certain teachers and even the architecture and the place - I tried to relate it to real people, real places, because like I said, it was a real memory piece ... so I can't pick [a favorite puppet], because I like them all."
3. He tried to capture the "weirdness" of kids.
"There's lots of things with the kids and just the weirdness in kids," Burton said. "The teacher and the certain kind of, the way he speaks, and how he speaks to the parents ... and just the feeling of being in school, I mean that's the thing that we just tried to capture is that memory and the feeling of just the weirdness of being in the classroom and how kids relate to each other. All that was very, you know, real memories."
4. He enjoys directing animated films.
"We had the characters there so they could see them, and also it helps, it's a two-way street," Burton told OTRC.com about directing actors in animated films. "It certainly helps the animators, so you know we can film, and even if the characters aren't acting, the animators try to put them into it because it does give them a guide."
"I mean obviously, working with actors, I've worked with Martin Short and Catherine and Martin Landau and Winona Ryder, especially with Martin and Catherine, they're so good, that's why I wanted them to do three characters because they could be a hundred different people - and it was so exciting to see them do three different characters," he said. "So, I mean, like I said I've worked with these people, and I think that they all enjoy, the kind of slightly abstract nature of making an animated film."
5. While puppetry has changed in some ways, he loves how it is essentially the same and brings an "old-fashioned" vibe.
"Well I mean certain technologies, certain digital cameras, make it slightly easier but at the same time, you know, it goes back to the beginning of time, I mean an animator still has to move this 24 times for one second, you know?" Burton said. "So that hasn't changed. But, that's kind of why we like it. There's something that's just beautiful and old-fashioned about the technique and tactile which, as difficult as it is for the animators, it's really just so exciting to see it come to life, because it kind of follows the Frankenstein story of bringing something inanimate to life, so it seems to fit."
Reporting by Tony Cabrera, correspondent for KABC Television's entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).