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Frankenweenie

Event Q&A Transcript

A woman speaking into a microphone

1. In terms of the films themes and issues, it has a scientific element to it, how did you and your team research what’s real and what’s not?

Well of course you can’t really bring your dog back from the dead so we wanted to make sure that other than that fact we were kind of working in the world of what was real, so we looked at science. We researched electricity and researched what kids your age would be interested in to make it pertinent to what you guys are studying. So a lot of the stuff on the blackboard was real theories of electricity and electrons - we really tried to make all the science around our not so good science seem real.

2. This is of course an animated film. Can you explain how important it is for you to get a mixture of voice talent across and how it works?

Basically, what happens is that Tim Burton will draw a picture of the characters and we make a puppet based on that drawing. In the mean time we cast actors to play the parts – so the boy who played Victor was a twelve year old boy named Charlie Tehan and we recorded his voice reading the script – so we almost made a radio play of the script. Once the puppets are ready and they know what to do within the scene the animator will go in a set – we build the set – and move the puppet one frame at a time. So everything you saw on the screen was an actual puppet on a set but if he wants the boy to wave he has to move the puppet, take a picture, move the puppet, take a picture. So twenty-four times a second a puppet is being moved to wave. There were about 1600 shots and thousands and thousands of moving frames but its fun!

3. How much research did you do into the classic horror genre?

The director really loved those movies when he was a kid. This whole movie was based on an idea that the director had when he was about your age when his dog passed away. He loved watching these old movies, he loved Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Creature From The Black Lagoon those were his favourite movies. So he had the idea of mixing the two ideas from the Frankenstein movie with what if he could bring his dog back to life. So when the artists were there we made them watch all of these old movies and a lot of them hadn’t seen them before and they just watched all of them.

4. How big are the puppets and what is the scale between them and the people that work with them? Can you explain how they work with them?

The puppets are about 4 inches tall and what is inside them is a metal skeleton. We make a metal skeleton that can move with little joints and we build the puppets over the top of them so they have to be that big so we can get all the little joints inside them. We made about 17 Sparky’s because sometimes we had to have a special sparky to be laying down, a special Sparky to be sitting down and a special Sparky to be standing up so we had lots of different Sparky’s for all the different movements he made.

5. Why did you make it 3D and how different is it to make a film in 3D?

We made it in 3D because one of the things that is great about this process, unlike other animation, is that we actually had real sets and real puppets so you can really touch the stuff and the puppets so we wanted to make it 3D because we felt it could pull you into the world a little bit better and made you feel like you were a part of it. I think for a movie like this, because it’s in black and white and it’s such a sweet and emotional story we wanted to bring the people into it. It not harder to think about what you’re doing to make a film 3D because we make it 3D after – its just about planning how you want the audience to experience the movie.

6. How many people were in the production team and how did they all come together to make Frankenweenie?

All together we had about 250 people but about 100 people came at the beginning of the process and the other 150 would have come for the second part. They don’t all stay for the whole 3 years but there are 250 artists, so there ate sculptors, drawers, people who make things and people who do the lighting and photography; so there are many different types of artists that work together on these movies.

7. What are the puppets made out of?

The puppets are made out of steel, a metal skeleton like your bones but they’re made of steel. The outside is made of rubber and silicone. The clothes are all real clothes that someone has to sew on a very small sewing machine.

8. This film is about Science and there are many teachers here with us today so what do you hope for the audience to take away from the film?

Well one of the things I hope people take away from this movie is that you can see in this movie that Victor had a teacher that is very inspiring to him, he really gives his students a chance to think differently. Tim Burton had a really inspiring teacher when he was young, it was an art teacher who told him to follow his dream and always be himself. It was very inspiring to him so that’s why it was really important to have that character that showed Victor that he could be different and could be himself and that it’s ok.