Thursday afternoon, Tim Burton headlined a special Comic-Con press conference for his new film, Frankenweenie. It’s a feature length adaptation of a short he directed in 1984. The original is nearly 30 years old, but Burton promises that this one isn’t an rehash. There’s plenty of life left in Frankenweenie.
The first Frankenweenie was such a great short. Why did you want to remake it?
Tim Burton: It’s a project that always meant something to me. And [I had] the opportunity to do it stop-motion, black and white, sort of expand on it — and with other kids and other monsters and other characters. It just seemed like the right medium and the project. Even though it’s revisiting something that [we] did a long time ago, it feels new and special.
Did you always have extra characters or ideas in your head for Frankenweenie? What inspired you?
Tim Burton: There were always characters that I sort of had. Sometimes you do characters but you don’t know what it fits into. There was always some little characters that I was kind of playing around with. Not only is it [the story] the thing about the boy and his dog, but going back to school and some of the kids that I remembered in school, and some of the weird teachers. Growing up on those kind of Universal horror films. I was also a fan of when [they would] do like House of Frankenstein or House of Dracula or Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man where they combine them together. So a lot of it had to do with those kinds of things that I love.
Was it hard to stretch out the story so it could be feature length?
Tim Burton: It wasn’t too much of a stretch because the heart of the story is the same. It’s just having some of these other characters that we’re just rattling around. It didn’t make it seem like it was a different thing. That’s why I feel proud about it. It doesn’t feel like it was a short that we’re padding out. It gets to explore kid politics and the way kids are with each other and weird teachers and things. It felt quite natural. If it hadn’t felt that way it probably wouldn’t have been worth doing. It’s important that it works as its own thing.
It seems like you bring back a dog in almost every one of your children’s films. Why is that?
Tim Burton: When you’re young, it’s the first kind of pure relationship you have. It’s something that connects right to your heart. I was lucky enough to have a special pet that I had that kind of relationship with. Yeah, the whole kind of Frankenstein element is sort of wish fulfillment in that kind of way. I always found those movies like Frankenstein kind of emotional. So it seemed like a fairly natural connection to combine the two.
After all this kiddie fare, would you ever do another straight-up horror film like Sleepy Hollow?
Tim Burton: I think I’ve had enough of me for a while. For me this one is such a special project. I’m just going to take the time to enjoy that and try to nurture that and see it through to its release.
How do you feel that your animated movies have progressed over the years?
Tim Burton: I do love stop-motion. These things always take time to get done. It’s a rarefied medium. It’s kind of a slightly lost art form, although there’s more being done now than there was in the past. There’s something that’s so beautiful about it. Just to be able to touch and feel the puppets and move them. It’s something magical about it. You kind of wish everybody could kind of experience it. Because it’s hard to talk about it. If you felt these things and just the intricacies of the movement it’s quite a beautiful art form.
This is only the second film, after Ed Wood that you’ve done in black in white. What brought you back?
Tim Burton: The black and white draws out the textures more. It’s interesting. It made the film a bit more emotional. It makes you feel like you’re there. It does a strange thing, which is hard to put into words but it definitely affects the way you watch it.
Since we’re at Comic-Con, do you have any desire to take any of these properties or anything original and write/draw your own comic? How do you feel about the convention?
Tim Burton: It’s amazing that it’s [Comic-Con] come from like the Holiday Inn to this. Also, it’s just fun to see Halloween in July. It’s great. It’s something that’s very special about this place.
Frankenweenie opens in theaters everywhere Oct. 11