Last weekend I was having some cocktails with a friend of mine and we were talking at length about movies. The conversation got around to Tim Burton and how it’s amazing how some people follow his movies obsessively. Now without a doubt Tim Burton has made some amazing movies. I will not argue there. But he has also made some questionable choices as well but many have elements that are very much the same to one another.
But hell, who am I? I never went to film school. I really just write a lot and like to put out my opinions. So here is the short and sweet guide to making a Tim Burton style film.
1. Is the main character a person who is outside of society looking in? If so then you are in luck my friend because EVERY one of his movies from “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” to “Alice in Wonderland” features a main character that is different from the mainstream. They are weird in some way and they are either dark or foreboding like Bruce Wayne, Edward Scissorhands or they are zany with a touch of macabre like Willy Wonka or Beetlejuice.
2. Do you make sets like a dark fairy tale? The sets of Tim Burton films are usually done with extreme architecture and nods to vintage looks.
3. Is the music done by Danny Elfman? In this case it really has worked for Burton too many times to count. I’ll never forget hearing the Batman score the first time. It puts you on the edge of your seat.
4. Has the cast been in other Burton movies? This is a big one. Once Tim Burton gets a hard on for an actor that person will be in the movies for a while.
5. Are most of the actors former Horror stars? Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, Michael Gough, Albert Finney, Johnny Depp all stared in various aspects of Horror movies. Granted this could be more a big coincidence since a lot of big stars get their start in horror.
6. Clowns are involved. Somehow, someway Tim Burton has a fascination with them and he’ll find a way to get them in a movie. Oh there are always exceptions. I’m sure “Planet of the Apes” didn’t have one. But still, he loves his clowns.
“I always liked strange characters” Tim Burton once said. That is plain enough I’d wager. And often we are treated to some great visuals and an amazing story. What I don’t get are folks that worship everything he touches though, especially since he has been casting every damn movie with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. I know Burton is engaged and has a couple kids with Carter now but come on. His ex-wife Lisa Marie was better looking and she wasn’t a nearly the camera hog Carter is. Some folks like that I guess. Not like Burton wasn’t married before Lisa Marie Smith too. It’s all about trade ups in Holly-weird I guess.