Tim Burton Research

Basic personal info:

Born: 25th August, 1958
Birth Place: Burbank, California
University: Animation at California Institute of Arts

Movies in which Burton has produced:
Stalk of the Celery Monster (1979)
Luau (1982)
Edward Scissor hands (1990)
BeetleJuice TV Series (1989-1991)
Batman Returns (1992)
Family Dog (1993)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Cabin Boy (1994)
Ed Wood (1994)
A Visit with Vincent (1994)
Batman Forever (1995)
James and the Giant Peach (1996)
Mars Attacks! (1996)
The World of Stainboy (2000)
Lost in Oz (2000)
Corpse Bride (2005)
9 (2009/10)
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
Frankenweenie (2012)
Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Saucers(2013)
Big Eyes (2014)
Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Movies in which Tim Burton has Directed:
Beetlejuice 2 (announced)
 2016Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
 2014/IBig Eyes
 2012The Killers: Here with Me (Video short)
 2012Dark Shadows
2010/IAlice in Wonderland
2007Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

 2003Big Fish
 2000The World of Stainboy (Short)
 1994A Visit with Vincent (Video documentary)

 1986Faerie Tale Theatre (TV Series) (1 episode)
Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp (1986)

 1986Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV Series) (1 episode)

The Jar (1986)
 1984Frankenweenie (Short)
 1983Hansel and Gretel (TV Movie)
 1982Luau (Short)
 1982Vincent (Short)
 1979Doctor of Doom (Short)
 19741997 (Short)
 1972Tim’s Dreams (Short)
 1971Prehistoric Caveman (Short)

Interesting quotations and ideas from ‘Tim Burton’ by (Ron Magliozzi and Jenny He):

  • “I occupied my time going to see monster movies, watching television, drawing, and playing in the local cemetery. Later, when I did start frequenting museums, I was struck by how similar the vibe was to the cemetery. Not in a morbid way,but both have a quiet, introspective, yet electrifying atmosphere. Excitement, mystery, discovery, life, and death all in one place” -P6The above quotation seems to highlight the dark but playful nature of Burton’s work. This glimpse to his childhood allows us to understand his personal influences on his life which have later effected his artistic career.
  • “They allow us to appreciate his range of expressive styles and mastery of multiple mediums, they give us insight into his artistic influences, and they provide us with  new perspective on his gothic and surrealist motifs and core themes of childhood alienation and imaginative escape” -P7The above quotation is referencing the artistic works of Tim Burton in the form of sketches,and concept work which had been released for display at The Museum of Modern Art around the first publication of the biography. 
  • “What began as an outlet for the nervous energy he felt growing up in Burbank, California,soon led to stop-motion animated films staged with toy action figures”-P9
  • “celebrated misunderstood, evil masterminds typical of the movies that offered him the different kind of role models and the colourful life he craved” -P9
    Burton made setting of Burbank a muse for early work e.g:

    • Vincent (1982)
    • Frankenweenie (1984)
    • Pee-Wee’s big Adventure (1985)Influences:
    • “Burton’s cross-generational perspective, configuring youthful enthusiasm and sentiment with adult libido, gives his work its distinct character, and may explain his appeal to both a mass audience and a cult following” – p9
    • “by his own account, he survived a benignly dysfunctional family”- p9The above quotation conveys reasoning as to why the relationships between characters in Burton’s films are so estranged. 
    • “Drawing and visual media were his pain-relievers of choice” p10This suggests that the visuals in which Burton created as an artist are highly symbolic of particular emotions which are personal to him as an individual.

    Artistic Influences:

    Favourite star: Vincent Price
    Illustrator: Henry Syverson
    Cultural cartoonist: Angelo Torres
    Mordant adult cartoonist: Gahan Wilson
    Animater: Chuck Jones
    Painter: Gustave Courbet
    Painter:Francisco Goya
    Painter: Robert Williams

    Burton attempted to emulate these styles, their Skewed view on American society had a lasting influence on him.

    University Work:

    The same year he started CalArts, Walt Disney productions politely rejected a children’s book he had written and fully illustrated called ‘The Giant Zlig‘ because it was “too derivative of the Seuss books to be marketable”-p10

    • Burton took strong interest within traditional arts whilst attending university.
      e.g. Realism versus Romanticism, and post-impressionism.
      “If I look at certain Van Gogh paintings, they’re not real, but they capture such an energy that makes it real” -p10
    • “altering nudes with bizarre aliens,humanoid insects, and battling dinosaurs”-p10

    Graduate project:
    ‘The Stalk of the Celery Monster’ (1979)

    After University:

    1979: Began working on a 4-year-long apprenticeship with the Disney Studios. Worked as an assistant animator and concept artist.
    First assignment: The Fox and the Hound (1981)
    -Burton animated bland love interest but disliked this

    The Black Cauldron (1985)
    -He liked this more as it revolved around a medieval fantasy about a magical device that produces armies of the undead
    – He produced his first body of professional work; a series of satiric killing machines, infants as ammunition
    -None of his nearly 200 drawings were used for the finished film

    • “His interest in the theme of adolescent and adult opposition in particular came to bear on his choice of subject matter” -P11
    • “To familiar adolescent subjects he brought edgy sophistication” -P11
    • ” he plays with black light and a pastel palette to picture surreal outer-space life-forms” -P11

    Trick or Treat (1980):
    Throughout 180 studies for the film, the evolution of Burton’s draftsmanship is revealed.
    In several he seems to mimic: Maurice Sendak, Charles Addams, and Edward Gorey

    After fellow CalArts graduate Rick Heinrichs turned Tim Burton’s  drawings into sculpted,three-dementional maquettes (From shorts and concept sketches as:Trick or Treat (1980), True love (1981-1983), Dream Factory (1983), and Hansel and Gretal (1983), Vincent, and Nightmare).

    Within two years, both the recognition that the artists received led to Burton’s first professional jobs as a film director for stop motion films such as: Vincent, Frankenweenie, and his version of Hansel and Gretel. Burton storyboarded all three projects.

    • “Coming from a time in his twenties when he felt estranged from the world at large, the work has an outsider’s point of veiw: unsentimental, delightfuly cynical, and rife with unspent sexual energy”-p12
    • “Caricaturing the ages of man, self-inflated personalities, heterosexual mating rituals, and, in a rare instance n actual celebrity, president Reagan, the drawings have an air of social commentary”-p12Stylistic Influences:

    Pop surrealist motifs have been explored in Burton’s work
    He liked the musical cabaret of LA performance artists the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, which pushed him to peruse Danny Elfman, to become his long term musical collaborator.

    • “The oversize eyes that stare from Robert Williams’s seminal Pop Surrealist painting In the Land of Retinal Delight (1968) and move through performances by the residents, in their iconic eyeball-head masks, imply voyeuristic compulsion”-P13
    • “Burton and Pop Surrealist artist Mark Ryden were equally entranced by the preternaturally large, round eyes and doll-like perfection of actres Christina Ricci, who was the subject of Ryden’s 1998 painting Christina nd the female lead of Burton’s Sleepy Hollow”-p13
    • “Disfiguring the body allows Burton to deliver metaphors of social dysfunction and psychological disintegration with sensual wit”-p13

    Style referred to as “Burtonesque”.

    Characters personify themes.

    • “I am amazed at people…who can go from genre to genre, and every movie seems different”- Tim Burton, p-17
      “I need some sort of connection”
    • “Favouring instinct and intuition versus following words on a page, Burton moved away from rigid storyboarding as early as 1988, when he made Beetlejuice. The director values the immediacy and intimacy of working out scenes with actors on set, and in doing so, he has developed his own way of communicating with actors”-p18
    • Use of two different worlds;
      “The “normal” world is exposed as claustrophobic and suffocting while the “topsy-turvy” world is colourful, imaginative, and revelatory, and often turns out to be more logical” -P19-P21

    Page 21 explains Burton’s common trait of connecting Childhood and adulthood.

    • “Two significant recurring archetypes are the flawed father and the misunderstood outcast”-P21

Tim Burton Quotation

21 Tim Burton Quotes On Life, Creativity, And The Importance Of Embracing Your Inner ‘Freak’

1.”It’s good as an artist to always remember to see things in a new, weird way”

2. “People say, “Monster movies—they’re all fantasy.” Well, fantasy isn’t fantasy—it’s reality if it connects to you. It’s like a dream. You have a nightmare, and it’s got all this crazy imagery, but it’s real. You wake up in a cold sweat, freaking out. That’s completely real. So I always found that those people trying to categorize normal versus abnormal or light versus dark, yada yada, are all missing the point”

3. “Maybe it’s just in America, but it seems that if you’re passionate about something, it freaks people out. You’re considered bizarre or eccentric. To me, it just means you know who you are”

4.”People told me I couldn’t kill Nicholson, so I cast him in two roles and killed him off twice.”

5.”I always appreciated movies and things that had everything, because that’s the way I feel about life. There’s nothing that’s just funny, just dramatic or just scary. It’s all mixed together. I’ve always felt, and still feel probably even more, that life is an incredible jumble of being funny and sad and dramatic and melodramatic and goofy and everything”

6. “We’ve all been called [“Freaks”] before. When I hear that word, I hear, “Somebody that I would probably like to meet and would get along with”

7.”We went out to draw people. I was sitting there, getting really frustrated trying to draw the way they were telling me to draw. So I just said, “Fuck it.” I truly felt like I had taken a drug and my mind had suddenly expanded. It’s never happened to me again quite that same way. From that moment on, I just drew a different way. I didn’t draw better, I just drew differently. It freed me up to not really care. It reminds me of when you’re drawing as a child. Children’s drawings all look pretty cool. But at some point, kids get better at drawing, or they say, “Oh, I can’t draw anymore.” Well, that’s because someone told you that you couldn’t—it doesn’t mean that you can’t. It taught me to stick to what’s inside of me, to let that flourish in the best way it can”

8. “It’s hard to find logic in things sometimes. That’s why I can’t analyze things too much, because it often doesn’t make much sense”

9. “I’m a happy-go-lucky manic-depressive. It does get very deep and dark for me, and it gets scary at times when I feel I can’t pull out of it. But I don’t consider myself negative-negative. I’m positive-negative. When things get really bad, the final straw is to laugh. That’s my release”

10. “If you’ve ever had that feeling of loneliness, of being an outsider, it never quite leaves you. You can be happy or successful or whatever, but that thing still stays within you”

11. “I find that the most special thing to me is if you’ve connected to people in some way. If someone comes up to you on the street and says something to you and you know it’s meant something to them and it’s connected to some project. That, I find, is amazing”

12. “For me, fantasy has always been a means of exploring reality… It explores the fact that your internal life, your dreams and the weird images and the things that come to you are things that are actually important tools for dealing with real issues”

13. “Drawing is exercise for a restless imagination”

14. “I’ve always been more comfortable making my decisions from the subconscious level, or more emotionally, because I find it is more truthful to me. Intellectually, I don’t think like that because I get uncomfortable. I’m more wary of my intellectual mind, of becoming delusional if I think of it too much”

15. “When you don’t have many friends and you don’t have a social life you’re kind of left looking at things, not doing things. There’s a weird freedom in not being the school president, and not having people treat you like you’re part of society, or where you have to fulfill social relationships. You’re at a distance from the rest of society; you feel like you’re kind of looking out a window”

16. “Anybody with artistic ambitions is always trying to reconnect with the way they saw things as a child”

17. “I find a sense of freedom in the suburbs. You assume the mask of suburbia for outward appearances, and yet no one knows what you really do… You’re never so close and distant from people at the same time. There’s something about suburbia, it’s really a place to hide. Or people use it as sort of a mask of normalcy”

18. “I’ve found that the people who play villains are the nicest people in the world and people who play heroes are jerks”

19. “One person’s craziness is another person’s reality”

20. “Everybody in the whole world has been misperceived. In school, you wanted something to come across this way and it didn’t come across… It’s why you struggle as a child and you draw and you want to create. There is an impulse to be seen. For yourself: what you are”

21. “Every day is Halloween, isn’t it? For some of us…”

^Johnathon Ross interveiw

^Tim Burton:A life in Pictures

‘They were always a strange mixture of things it would be like Vincent Price, Roger Corman movie, Scream black and scream, Doctor Jeckle and Sister hide, Godzilla Movies, Japanse Science fiction movies it was strange, they mixed up the weirdest grouping of films’

‘All the universal horror’

‘They’d show things on regular television that they probably wouldn’t even show now’

‘There’d be like Mexican horror movies dubbed in English’

Question posed:
Was there a limit on what you were allowed to watch?

‘My parents didn’t seem to mind, I don’t now, they let the television deal with me…cheap babysitting really’

As a child, Tim was asked to read a large book on Hoodini as an assignment, but due to his dislike in reading he decided to make a short film instead.


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