Piers McCarthy reports on the BFI London Film Festival press conference for Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie…
As conference moderator Chris Hewitt pointed out, Tim Burton is a beloved adopted Londoner. It seems only fair that after embracing the U.K’s capital as his home and bringing a heap of work to the British film industry that Burton open at least one of BFI’s London Film Festival. This year that wish was granted and Burton’s stop-motion, black and white family film, Frankenweenie started off the 56th London Film Festival in Leicester Square. Before the film got its U.K premiere, a 30 minute press conference was held in a swanky London hotel and Flickering Myth was there to record it all.
The press panel included Empire’s Chris Hewitt as moderator, Frankenweenie’s producer Allison Abbate, actor Martin Short, director Tim Burton, actress Catherine O’Hara, producer Don Hahn and actor Martin Landau. All were clearly in good spirits about the “amazing” opportunity to open the London Film Festival with their film. Burton was especially thankful for what it has meant to him to have people recognise this film in particular, as when starting production “there was no Olympic stadium…[and] it shows how long a film like this takes to make”.
Frankenweenie is certainly a film crafted out of love and care and Burton was very happy to talk about what it meant not only to have the film so eagerly embraced but also to have it made altogether. “It became a real memory piece” Burton recalls of revisiting a story he devised way back in 1984. The chance of bringing the story back with the “purity of stop motion” was something he had only dreamed of. It was mostly Don Hahn who inspired Burton to revisit and recreate elements of his 84 live-action short who thought it how “really odd in a way, but terrific” it is to see the smartness of a 25 year-old Burton’s short film come around “full circle” – “you can revisit [Frankenweenie] years later…[it’s] terrific”.
Bringing together his cast was another pleasant experience for the director who wanted to call upon some of his best friends to lend their voice. Martin Short, who did a short but hilarious impression of Burton, said how his job on the film was “an ideal working situation for an actor”. He had previously worked with Burton on cult classic Mars Attacks! and was brought onto the Frankenweenie film as Mr. Frankenstein, husband of Catherine O’Hara’s Mrs. Frankenstein. O’Hara said she was so thankful to work on such “beautiful” scenes of domesticity in the film along with playing two additional characters. The legendary Martin Landau, who won an Oscar for his role in Burton’s Ed Wood, was full of vitality when talking about time and the film. He mentioned his character’s difficult name and the resemblance to Vincent Prince (to which he used the novel term – “Vincecality”) along with his first introduction to the unique director. As he and his daughter finished watching Beetlejuice Landau wondered, “who directed that?!” and immediately wanted to work with him. The rest as they say, is history.
Producer Allison Abbate was on hand to spread the word on a Frankenweenie exhibit. One piece she advertised with zeal was “Tim Burton’s desk” that explores the “design phase all the way through to the final product”. All in all, each member of the panel seemed over the moon to promote Frankenweenie and the uniqueness of its style and substance. You can read our review for the film here.
Piers McCarthy – Follow me on Twitter.