The Master of Gothic Mainstream: Tim Burton


There have been many films that have left their mark on pop culture and changed the way we see the world, but only a handful of directors have created a vision with such imagination as Tim Burton — the master of fantasy Gothic, who showed us that eccentric is sometimes the best way to be.


Tim Burton, the son of a baseball player, was born in the city of Burbank, CA were he spent his childhood watching classic horror films and making short films for his amusement. While doodling and painting in class or where ever he could, which turned into a scholarship and education at CalArts, one of the premier art colleges in America.

Where shortly after graduating he briefly worked at Walt Disney Studios before branching out on his own to further his creativity.

This departure led to Tim’s first feature film Pee Wee’s Big Adventure which opened the door to more film opportunities.



Of course the best part about any Burton film is the visual style; that is always unique, dark, and inventive and it still remains a signature of both his animated and live-action films since Batman or really even Vincent (since then Burton has often worked with Warner Brothers and Walt Disney Studios).

The early Batman franchise introduced us to the darkness of Gotham with its unforgettable characters. While Beetlejuice provided a first glimpse into the mind of Tim Burton, but it wasn’t until The Nightmare Before Christmas that he showed us his true creative genius and animation talents and thankfully films have never been the same since.

Yet even for all their eccentricity his films also carry an odd humor and delicate vulnerability that makes us care about the most unlikely creature such as in Big Fish and Edward Scissorhands. His twist on life and on some of the greatest stories of our time have opened our mind to the strange beauty that is life — and there’s nothing fictional about that.



Interestingly enough, there are some things you may not know about this mysterious director. Read below to discover some fun information.

  • Designed a special balloon for the Macy’s day parade.
  •  Moved in with grandparents at age 12.
  • Has worked numerous times with screenwriter John August.
  •  Uses his original childhood artwork for film inspiration and character looks.
  •  Loves monster movies.
  • Role Model is Vincent Price
  •  Has made cameo appearances in films.
  • Tim Burton almost launched the Superman franchise with Nicholas Cage.
  •  Has brother named Daniel.

For more Tim Burton check out these links. (BIG EYES)


The Evolution of Disney: Frankenweenie Part II

Last time we explored Frankenweenie’s puppets and animation process behind the scenes. This time it’s all about the overall design — the production and costume design that is, which will give you an idea of just how extensive a stop animation feature is to make.


The look of Frankenweenie, like the story, was inspired by Tim Burton’s childhood, specifically the town of Burbank, CA where he grew up, as well as old horror movies and common Gothic motifs. Frankenweenie takes place in the town of New Holland which shares characteristics of Burbank around the 1970s with its classic cookie cutter idea of suburbia. Executive producer Don Hahn refers to the style as ” Transylvania meets Burbank”.

The production design was spearheaded by Rick Henrichs, who has worked previously with Burton on other films; he and his team studied 1970s architecture of the southwest, featuring tract-house style homes and other post-war periods to bring Burton’s vision of New Holland to life. The designer also based the fictional world on the original live-action short borrowing the expressionistic style and Gothic style of the black and white film to expand upon the look of New Holland.

After massive research, the designing began in November of 2009 in an L.A. studio before moving to the London studio to actually begin the long process of constructing the models, props, sets, and other decor.

The main challenge with stop motion or any feature using miniatures is finding the proper scale for the characters and sets they inhabit.  Out of all the sets, New Holland presented the biggest challenge for designers having to construct a whole town from scratch and Victor’s lab which required a lot mechanical wiring and hand lighting installations.

In total, about 200 sets were created for the film and the overall color scheme was a black and white to grayscale monochromatic look.

While you will notice the film uses many classic horror motifs such as the Windmill on the hill — which also had to be hand engineered — and the cemetery.


thWEEN  thWE













Frankenweenie set (Walt Disney Pictures)
















Costumes and hair are a completely different beast in stop-motion, not only because of the scale but because like the sets — you have to create everything from scratch.  You can’t buy or rent clothes for production and hair can’t be styled or wigs purchased. Instead, it is a highly detailed process done by hand. For example to create the hair for each puppet someone must push individual strands of hair with a special needle into the puppet’s head to create a full wig. While the process of the costumes involves selecting fabrics and then making mockups for approval by the director before being hand sewn to size for each character.



Of course when your working with that many objects on such a small scale repeatedly things are likely to receive some wear and tear between shots. That’s why on set there is a “hospital” where it is someone’s job to make the puppets or sets brand new again. Kind of cool.


Here’s also a look at some of the concept art and sketches from the film.


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Victor_PJ_Design-150x150  esquisse-de-son-film-frankenweenie

For more art and behind the scenes check out the visual companion book

( Images copyright of Walt Disney Pictures)

Coming Soon

Sorry for the delay everyone. Festival season turns me into a busy bee. Plus my other new ventures have slowed my work pace. Welcome to the world of entertainment and job hunting — or rather freelancers anonymous.

In any case I should have a post up real soon, possibly by the end of the day. Either way hold tight.

From now on — until further notice — I may not have posts weekly or biweekly, but I will always have at least 1 or 2 posts a month. Though I hope more if timer permits.

As always I appreciate your patience and feel free to check me out at tumblr @cinematictruths in the mean time for frequent updates and your daily fill of behind the scenes movie stuff and art.


monroe shaye




Vampires, they’ve been around forever — or so it seems. We’ve seen the charming ones, the scary ones, the ruthless ones, and the ones who fall somewhere in between, but often we forget their origins; which for the most part didn’t arise until about the 18th century. So what really is a vampire and have they been misunderstood?

FX’s new series The Strain created by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan plays on this myth and tries to bring some new understanding to the vampire mythos, along with some disgustingly, awesome creature design and storytelling to bite.

The Strain re imagines the modern day vampire in a world where his desire is not only driven by insatiable blood thirst, but also love. Making him not only the hunter, but the unfortunate victim of his own fate.







Creating one of the most original angles attempted in vampire lore; the creators based their vampire incarnation on folklore from many countries, but primarily were inspired by early eastern vampire folklore.

So what’s the difference between eastern and western vampires, you ask? Which nowadays is hard to tell with all the vampire films or tv shows we’ve seen in the last few years — from True Blood to Twilight to Interview with the Vampire to Dracula it’s pretty difficult to see any real difference, but western and eastern vampires are pretty different. It’s just most of us wouldn’t know the difference because modern society has hammered us to death with more recent 18th century western European versions, which only borrow a bit from Eastern vampire lore.






So for those unfamiliar with eastern lore, The Strain’s vamps are closer to our present notion of a zombie and they don’t necessarily suck blood and bite with the use of fangs. Rather these blood suckers attack there victims much like the Asian Aswang or Mandurugo, which you may have seen an interpretation of on Grimm recently.

Basically both these vampire types use a long tongue like instrument to suck fluid from their victims and have a thing for hearts and organs like the vampires on The Strain. Likewise they are also more ghoul like in appearance. Sorry, no sparkling beauties here.

Meanwhile other aspects of The Strain’s vampire mythos explore aspects where the family they left behind becomes of greater importance — feeding their new life from beyond the grave.

In the most recent episodes it’s been revealed that these vampires are a type of Strigoi, which is a vampire found in Romanian folklore and the whole idea of  severing the head from the body comes from Croatian folklore. So you can see already there are some major differences, which I’ll explore further at a later date.




The Ultimate Film List . . . and Personal Favorties: Part I

Things are  a little hectic for me right now, but that’s what’ it’s like to work in entertainment business.

So in the mean time I’ve cooked up a list of my favorite films and must-see movies that you may have seen or some that maybe you never got around to yet. Regardless, here are some great films broken up by genre that includes some good options and by far is not a complete best list, as there are just too many great films  to name . . . and also this list may be somewhat bias to my personal taste, but your welcome to chip in and comment and maybe I’ll post your faves on a later date. Till then here are my favorites and must see movies for your summer enjoyment.

It’s the best way to stay out of the heat!

MY FAVORITES( list in no particular order.)

  1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy                             


    Jurassic Park

  2. Jurassic Park
  3.  His Girl Friday
  4. Singing in the Rain
  5. The Dark Knight
  6. Pirates of the Caribbean
  7. The Fugitive
  8. Star Wars
  9. L.A. Confidential
  10. Django Unchained
  11. Beauty and the Beast


  1. To Kill a Mockingbird           

    the birds

    the birds

  2. The Ten Commandments
  3. My Fair Lady
  4. Gone with the Wind
  5. Vertigo
  6. The Wizard of Oz
  7. Some Like it Hot
  8. The Birds
  9. Sunset Blvd.


  1. The Lion King
  2. Frozen
  3. Beauty and the Beast
  4. Spirited Away
  5. The Last Guardians
  6. Howl’s Moving Castle                              

    spirited away

    spirited away

  7. Coraline                                    
  8. Toy Story
  9. Shrek
  10. Ice Age
  11. Corpse Bride
  12. Brave
  13. Rise of the Guardians


  1. Blazing Saddles
  2. MASH
  3. Caddyshack
  4. Tropic Thunder
  5. Office Space
  6. Hot Fuzz
  7. Rush Hour
  8. Meet the Fockers
  9. Lethal Weapon
  10. 21 Jump Street


  1. Carrie                                                               


    The Conjuring

  2. Night on Elm Street
  3. The Shining
  4. The Omen
  5. Saw
  6. Chucky
  7. The Exorcist
  8. The Conjuring
  9. The Ring


  1. Pretty Woman
  2. Love Actually
  3. Pride and Prejudice


    The notebook

  4. Shakespeare in Love
  5. The Notebook
  6. Bridget Jones Dairy
  7. Sleepless in Seattle
  8. When Harry Met Sally
  9. My Best Friend’s Wedding


  1. Edward Scsissorhands
  2. Alien
  3. Harry Potter Series
  4. Minority Report
  5. E.T.
  6. The Matrix
  7. Men in Black
  8. Rise of of Planet of the Apes
  9. Indiana Jones Series
  10. Gremlins
  11. The Never Ending Story
  12. The Abyss




  1. Mission: Impossible
  2. Kill Bill
  3. Skyfall
  4. Terminator
  5. Die Hard
  6. Pacific Rim
  7. District 9
  8. Jaws
  9. Desperado
  10. Wanted
  11. Twister
  12. Gone in 60 Seconds
  13. Fast & The Furious
  14. Bad Boys



  1. Sin City
  2. Batman(Nolan series)
  3. X-Men/X-Men First Class/X-Days of Future Past
  4. The Amazing Spiderman/Spiderman
  5. The Avengers
  6. Thor


    Sin City

  7. Man of Steel
  8. Captain America
  9. Iron Man
  10. 300
  11. Kick- Ass


  1. Gladiator
  2. The Departed
  3. The Great Gatsby
  4. Hustle & Flow
  5.  Fight Club
  6. Elizabeth


    The Great Gatsby

  7. Forrest Gump
  8.  The Godfather
  9. Crash
  10. 12 Years of Slave
  11. Shawshank Redemption
  12. The Green Mile
  13. A Beautiful Mind
  14. The Silence of the Lambs
  15. Erin Brockvich
  16. The Help



  1. Chicago
  2. Les Misreables
  3. Phantom of the Opera
  4. Frozen
  5. Grease
  6. Drumline
  7. Save the Last Dance
  8. 8-Mile
  9. The Sound of Music



  10. Mary Poppins
  11. Happy Feet
  12. Sister Act











(Images copyrighted from various sources)