Tim Burton Biography: Fantasy Filmmaker
Born: 25 August 1958 in Burbank, California
The man who brought us such fantasy classics as Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Alice in Wonderland grew up in Burbank, California, as the youngest of three brothers.
He was an unsettled child, often watching horror and low-budget films to escape from reality. Twice he got into trouble for staging an axe murder that looked so real it prompted people to call the police.
After graduating from high school, he won a Disney scholarship to the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. He studied there for three years before becoming an animator apprentice at Walt Disney Studios, a job he found creatively stifling.
In the 1980s Burton started making films of his own, primarily horror and fantasy. His early works include a short film called Vincent, about a boy who dreams of being actor Vincent Price, and a Japanese-style version of Hansel and Gretel.
In 1984 Burton made Frankenweenie, a spin-off of Frankenstein about a boy who brings his dog back to life, which he remade in 2012.
Burton's career gained momentum in the mid-1980s when he directed a string of successful films, most notably Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice and Batman. But it wasn’t until the he started working with actor Johnny Depp in the 1990s that he made his real mark in the fantasy genre.
No Tim Burton bio would be complete without mention of his collaboration with Depp. When those two get together, magic happens... every time! Their quirky outlook is a ideally suited to the fantasy genre and has resulted in many amazing fantasy films.
Burton's other regular collaborators include the musician Danny Elfman, who composed the soundtrack for several of his biggest films, and his domestic partner, Helena Bonham Carter, who often plays a lead role in his productions.
A place of magic
One of my friends worked on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She told me Burton has an incredible creative energy. “His mind is everywhere at once,” she said, “and yet he remains incredibly focused.”
Through his life and career, this mega-talented filmmaker has journeyed from a place of darkness in an unhappy childhood to a place of magic and escapism in the shadowy world of fantasy.
I had the joy of going to the Tim Burton exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art when it came to my home city in 2011. It had more than 700 exhibits, including drawings from Burton’s school days, sketches from the stop-motion animated film Corpse Bride, clockwork figures from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Edward Scissorhands’s costume, and Penguin’s pram from Batman Returns.
My bestie and I spent hours drifting from one room to another trying to absorb everything. We definitely left with a deeper understand and appreciation of the genius who has delivered some of the most amazing fantasy movies of all time.
> The Top 7 Tim Burton Characters.
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