T.B.: I haven’t been here in many years. I came here as a student in the ’70s and haven’t been back since. It’s quite amazing how big it’s gotten. It’s shocking really. It’s such a positive energy, there’s a lot of passionate people, so it’s a bit daunting to show something but that’s why you make movies. That’s what’s great about the environment here. People are very passionate about the environment here and that’s again why you make movies so it’s exciting to be around that energy. I love seeing people dressed up. It’s surreal and amazing and beautiful. I just remember last time I was there, it was some booths and stuff, but the builds that they have, it’s incredible.
G.M.: You mentioned during the Focus Features’ panel on “9” that you felt you shared a certain sensibility with the film’s director, Shane Acker. I can’t imagine that’s something you experience too often.
T.B.: I don’t. Also, too it was different enough from mine, but I felt a connection to it. Having gone through this process myself trying to get films made and done and how much of a problem it is to have that happen, I thought I could help him with that, I thought I could help protect him from the forces of evil and let him focus on making his film.
G.M.: What specifically did you do to help him get the film made?
T.B.: I suggested the screenwriter who I’d worked with before. What I tried to do, I’ve been an animator, it’s a very strange job. It requires a lot of focus and sometimes you can just get so focused on something, so I felt very lucky to not be in there every day and just be able to look at things and have a fresh perspective. Animation takes so long it’s hard to have a fresh view of it especially when it’s so in your head. It was luck for me and for [producer] Timur [Bekmembetov] that we could [provide] more of an overview, look at things from a fresh perspective and just kind of help that way. I didn’t want to be one of those guys, I liked what he did, so there was no wanting to put my own stamp of approval on it. He could use us however he wanted, and he’s very open, which is great. There was no weird ego kind of thing going on. I always felt that real artists don’t have that kind of insecurity when it comes to taking suggestions or listening to somebody else’s point of view. He was very open to it. That made it very easy to be involved. It was always for the benefit of the film. He took the notes he felt good with. But that’s the way you want it. Otherwise, you shouldn’t get involved with something if you’re going to have to put your own stamp on to it.
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Photo: Tim Burton at “9” panel. Credit: Getty Images