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Arts & Entertainment

Tim Burton on 'Frankenweenie' and the art of creating an oeuvre

Writer and director Tim Burton stops by KPCC to talk about his film,
Writer and director Tim Burton stops by KPCC to talk about his film, "Frankenweenie," on AirTalk on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Writer and director Tim Burton stops by KPCC to talk about his film,
Writer and director Tim Burton and AirTalk host Larry Mantle pose for a portrait in the Crawford Family Forum.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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Director Tim Burton was raised in suburban Burbank, but with 28 films under his belt, he’s created a world of his own. From "Edward Scissorhands" to "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory" to his latest film, "Frankenweenie," Burton infuses his work with both childhood memories and a dark edge of the macabre.

"Frankenweenie" is his second to be nominated for an Academy Award (Best Animated Feature Film), and he’s in studio to talk about his new film, his filmmaking process, and his passion for the handmade feel of stop-motion film.

Interview highlights:

On the inspiration for "Frankenweenie":
"It was based on my feelings for a dog that I had when I was a boy, and being that first great relationship, that pure relationship that you actually don't really get from humans, it was very special to me. So I never forgot that. Putting that also with the love of Frankenstein movies and horror movies, it just seemed like a natural connection to tie those two stories together. Also growing up in Burbank, the angry villagers and relating that to my neighbors…all those feelings I had as a child and emotions, it was something that I thought of putting into this one idea."

On feeling like an "outsider" while growing up:
"Burbank was very much a suburban place in the time that I grew up, and I was always fascinated by the fact, as a child liking monster movies, you were always sort of deemed as weird, I could never quite figure that out.  How come if I liked Westerns or Musicals would I have been treated more normally. It was a strange phenomenon that just because you liked those movies you were put into a different category…also growing up in a place that was supposedly normal, I felt very abnormal and very outside. All of those classic monster movies are basically about outsiders, Frankenstein was never a horrible character, he was just different from everybody else."

On connecting with fans:
"Usually the people that I connect with are people that feel similar to the way I felt, so there's a really nice connection. That's the most beautiful thing is when you go somewhere and you see somebody that, without even talking, just the way they look, you know that they have those same feelings. That's very special to me. Even though I'm not very social, recognizing that special connection with certain people makes it worthwhile."

On the perceived negativity about his upbringing:
"People think when I talk about Burbank that I'm quite negative about it or my relationship with my parents, but in fact, I'm very positive about it, because that's who you are. I think if I hadn't had those negative feeling it wouldn't have spurred me on to explore my internal life and do those things that made me draw or made me make films, so I think those things that sometimes are perceived as negatives are actually positives."

On meeting his hero, Vincent Price:
"I'll never forget it, it was my first positive experience in Hollywood. I sent him this little storyboarded manuscript and didn't know him, didn't have any connection, just watched his films. He contacted me immediately and wrote me this most amazing note. What was very special to me is I could tell that he was seeing it not like I was just a fan, he understood the psychology of it and was very supportive of it. Meeting him, it was just such a great thing to meet somebody who you grew up watching then they turn out to be an amazing person."

Tim Burton, Academy Award-winning director, "Frankenweenie"