Q: So what do you think it is? Do you think it’s your imaginative take and visual style?
TB: “I don’t know. I think they forget. I’m a parent now and you become a little bit more protective, I guess. And I can understand that, getting into protective mode or whatever. But at the same time I don’t know how you can forget that ‘Snow White’ was scary and ‘Pinocchio’ was scary. I was even watching ‘101 Dalmatians’ and it was like ‘Boil em’, skin em’ beat em’ bash em’ em over the head, kill em!’ And I guarantee you now that if that line was in a Disney film they would freak out.”
Q: Our culture has become overprotective over the years. Do you think it has something to do with that?
TB: “Yeah, and at the same time it spins out of control in terms of violence and other things. They complain about movies but you read less about the effects of technology and Facebook and computers where you can sit endless hours of the day killing people in a video game. To me, there are many more potentially culturally damaging things that people don’t talk about as much as they rag on movies – which are probably the safest form of entertainment you can get. I remember I watched movies like ‘The Brain that Wouldn’t Die’ on a Saturday afternoon and the guy’s arm gets ripped off and he’s running his bloody stump down the wall. And I’m all right. I mean, I’m still a functioning member of society to some degree.”
Q: Do you think it’s just that your films feel unfamiliar or new and that those fairy tales are more classic and known and so the familiarity makes people take the darker elements for granted?
TB: “Honestly, I just find it fascinating. The best thing I could think is the protection thing. And fear. That’s why I like the idea of not getting so involved in technology. Instead of going online, I’d like to just go look at the clouds for ten minutes and let your mind wander. Especially as an adult when you’re forced to be more responsible, and have a family. It does kind of take you away from your simple, emotional, creative life. No matter what you do. It’s important for everybody to have at least a moment to just meditate or whatever you do to space out.”
Q: That definitely ties into the film as well, because you have the scene where all the parents are complaining about the teacher, about Mr. Rzykruski, and his “dangerous” methods. It’s progression.
TB: “Yeah, yeah. And also it’s like when people get all up in arms about something. The best way…and it’s something you try to tell your kids – you see your two kids fighting. Well, why does it work? Because one has an effect on the other, and if you just let certain things go. It’s like the religious thing, when they start complaining about something and it just makes the other thing look better. It doesn’t actually do the purpose. If you actually just let things go and let issues… just keep it personal, don’t make such a big deal out of it because if you make a big deal out of it then you’re not necessarily achieving what you want to achieve with it. It’s kind of a stupid thing. I don’t know. I just find all that stuff shocking and amusing and scary at the same time [laughs].”
Q: It is interesting, because the film does deal with the ideal of misunderstandings based on superficial judgments…
TB: “And it’s always been happening that way. Superficial judgments are the most boring, but they’ve been around since I was a child and they’re around today and, like I said, it seems to get stronger that way and everything else kind of spins out of control. So it is a weird dynamic for sure.”
Q: I wanted to ask you about your career, because at the start of your career you were met with your fair share of rejection and we’re now two years removed from what is not only the biggest hit of your career in terms of box office numbers, but one of the few films to make more than a billion dollars internationally. I’m curious, from your point of view, if the way you make films has changed as you’ve seen more success, and if you think there’s still value in limitations and people saying no.
TB: “Well, if you ask anybody if they have $200 million to make a film it’s not quite enough. If you have $1 million it’s not enough. Everyone from the full spectrum…because there are limitations and you’d be making a huge budget movie and still feel like you’re screwed, that you don’t have enough money. But I was lucky in a way because early on in my career I had a couple of successes, and I thought, ‘Ooh, this is going to be easier now. I can do whatever I want,’ from ‘Pee Wee’ to ‘Beetlejuice’ to ‘Batman,’ and I thought, ‘Well, I’ve been lucky! So now I’m going to do “Edward Scissorhands.”‘ And it was like the hardest movie to get made, and it was lower budget. And it created its own weird dynamic because people thought all I did was create big Hollywood movies. I couldn’t get locations because they were too expensive and this and that because they thought you were doing a big Hollywood movie. So I found that, actually, each project…and there have been projects even lately where I’ve worked for six months on it and they canceled them. It does still happen and it actually made me feel more evened out to realize that, you know what? Each project…and I feel bad for people that think, that come up to me and they go, ‘You can do anything you want.’ You can’t really, and that’s okay. You should have those kind of challenges and restrictions. That’s the nature of film and I think that’s actually not a negative thing.”
Frankenweenie opens in theaters Friday, October 5th.
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