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October 31, 1999 6:15pm EDT

Live Chat with Tim Burton

Host: Ladies and Gentleman . . .Happy Halloween . . . Joining us live now is Tim Burton, the Director of Sleepy Hollow...

geo_tex asks: How hard was it working with a script based on an age-old tale?

Tim Burton: Its funny because I was very aware of the story it was burned in my psyche and consciousness, but I had never actually read it. I had seen the Disney CARTOON. I didn't read as a child I watched! I had been taken by the power of a headless person , as I often feel myself.
The opportunity to make a horror movie fairy tale, like a old Hammer horror film, or a Roger Corman Vincent Price film, or the Mario Bava Italian Black Sunday type film, the genre of beautiful horror films, kind of the imagery that inspired me and the opportunity to do that imagery.

geo_tex asks: Did the variety of cast members help make this film both a romance and suspense?
Tim Burton: Yes it was like working with American actors and British actors, all these great actors together, it was scary! It was quite surreal. It felt like the A version of the Ed Wood group. They are all like silent movie actors, able to conveyweird things without speaking. I like actors who when you look at them convey feelings, but you are not quite sure what they are thinking.

rihaku asks: "Sleepy Hollow" look gorgeous, Mr. Burton. I can't wait to see it. The original story by Washington Irving is quite comical. Would you tell us why the changes made to the story are appropriate for the film?
Tim Burton: When I got the script the changes that had been made from school teacher to NYC cop investigating the crimes were good, I approved of them, partially because I always hated school!
Tim Burton: But what we did try to do is keep the spirit and atmosphere of the story, Ichabod's eccentricities, so we did try and add humor but not at the expense of the drama and horror of it all.

Sasharuth asks: Hi Tim! I LOVE YOU! Question: So, what are you afraid of?
Tim Burton: I am afraid of certain real people, certain relatives, neighbors , certain film executives. Monsters never scared me, but real life can be quite frightening.

nunomarkl asks: Tim, what do you think it's scarier - the perfect and colorful neighborhood in "Edward Scissorhands" or the dark land of the Headless Horseman, Sleepy Hollow? Where would you live?
Tim Burton: Well I've spent time in both places, and I guess I prefer Sleepy Hollow to a degree.
Growing up in the light, square, one story environment in Southern California, I had this desire for texture, and dark juxtaposed against light which I feel much more comfortable with.
And we had the opportunity to build the town, so it was like a real places, which was good for me, the actors and the energy of the film.

mara_from_greece asks: In what way is Sleepy Hollow different from your previous films?
Tim Burton: It's hard for me to tell, just finishing the film,. it takes me about three years to do a film and then finally see it in a different light. So ask me in three years!
Host: Just a reminder that you guys can watch this webcast by clicking in the banner at the top of the chat room.

lrfrench asks: What has happened with your documentary on VINCENT PRICE? Can you tell us a little about it, and if it will be shown on cable tv any time in the near future? ?
Tim Burton: Initially I had trouble getting the rights to some of the film clips I wanted. Now, I am looking at in a different context, so I hope it will come out in the near future, but I am not sure in what medium it will come out.

xtraterrestrialz asks: Is Christina Ricci fun to work with?
Tim Burton: Yes. She's got that, the illigitimate daughter of Bettie Davis and Peter Lorre.

nunomarkl asks: Tim, what's the best horror movie of all time?
Tim Burton: Black Sunday. Or the Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston.

melissaellos asks: As an aspiring filmmaker, one of my greatest fears is that my final cut can never come close to the vision of what I am trying to create. Mr. Burton, if you could change any aspect of any of your films to make it completely your vision, without any logistical compromises, what would you change? Conversely, which of your films do you feel best met the expectations of what you were trying to create?
Tim Burton: I always like to adopt the Ed Wood delusional approach to filmmaking, and think that whatever you are doing is the greatest thing of all time, whether it's true or not.

old_goblin asks: Hello Tim, Which "Hammer" films inspired you the most?
Tim Burton: It was more the idea, the general overall mindscape of Hammer that was intriguing. Returning to the more beautiful horror movie, sexy, lurid, beautiful horror film. So I like them all, but maybe Horror of Dracula, the early one, sort of started it.

solanum_1 asks: What was your reason or reasons behind choosing to remake "Sleepy Hollow"?
Tim Burton: I was just taken by the powerful image of the Headless Horseman, it's such an icon. An image that somehow represents the subconscious. And you don't see too many movies with main characters that don't have a head!

martapuig_1999 asks: are you going to direct Superman or not?
Tim Burton:I worked on it for a year very intensely. So I feel as if in my head, I made it. Its just that we forgot to film it. So I think for me, no.

martapuig_1999 asks: why did you choose Johnny Depp to play Ichabod Crane?
Tim Burton: This is the third time I've worked with him. And each time he does something different. I don't care how he looks. It's just very liberating to this process.

anotherfan99 asks: As the webmaster of a Sleepy Hollow website, I'd like to ask Tim what you thinka about these types of fan sites and the impact that the internet is having on this film?
Tim Burton: Hello spiderman! I enjoy you and your web!

Red_White19 asks: Have you ever read Edgar Allan Poe works? Is he inspiring to you?
Tim Burton: Yes, but again, my introduction to Poe would have to be the Roger Corman Vincent Price movies. So those were the things that really introduced me to the work of Poe.

JanSvankmajer_SurrealistGenius asks: It's gonna be a thrill to see Christopher Lee's cameo in "Sleepy Hollow". It's not the first time you work with great legends of the horror cinema. Everyone knows how important Vincent Price was to you and in "Ed Wood" you paid hommage to Bela Lugosi. How do feel working with these living legends of films you love since you were a kid?
Tim Burton: It's one of the most amazing experiences of my life. When I met Christopher Lee, I sat down with him and two hours went by in a second.
I felt I had been hypnotized by Dracula, that I was having a conversation with Dracula1
It's amazing to meet these people who have inspired you and then to learn that they are wonderful people.
For some reason, horror stars and villains are the nicest people!

brougfa asks: Are there any special camera angles or tricks you like to use in your movies?
Tim Burton: I take the lenscap off first, and put film in the camera, that always helps! Each film has its own dynamic, you never quite know from one film, you find yourself shooting from angles, depending on the project, lenses same thing.

timburtonfan asks: What elements of The Legend do you think are true reality to people living in the modern world?
Tim Burton: The sense of logic versus illogic, life is comprised of both. Always. Those kinds of dynamics have been present since the beginning.

JanSvankmajer_SurrealistGenius asks: Hi Tim, I'm a big fan of yours from Brazil, since "Beetlejuice", and it's great to have the opportunity of chatting with you. "Sleepy Hollow" has its grand finale in a windmill. You used a windmill finale in "Frankenweenie" too. Is it again a reference to James Whale's "Frankenstein"?
Tim Burton: Yes, there is inspiration in that, yes. I think that was one of the first movies that made an impression on me. And has sort of been a part of me, an image burned in my mind forever, and therefore it was nice to be able to do another version of that classic horror imagery.

bobbymadison asks: Q: Is Tim familiar with the classic illustrations of the story by Aurthur Rackham and was the set design inspired by them?
Tim Burton: Yes, I know Arthur Rackham's work and have always liked it. And have seen his version of Sleepy Hollow. And there is a slight inspiration, we didn't want to copy his work, but only use it as an emotional inspiration.

marie_89452 asks: Tim, this is Marie from Incline -- I've got your mother here with me. She wants to know if we can all have dinner when we're down for the premiere
Tim Burton: I am not really alive. This is all manufacturered and none of this is real. I have been taken away to another planet and I'm beaming this down. And therefore I will not be able to join you until a hole is ripped in the time warp of the 3rd and 20th dimensions. But if that happens, we'll have dinner.

kelli1_99 asks: Did you feel any pressure to make the make the movie live up to the legend?
Tim Burton: Yes. Because if something is inspiring to you you want to do it justice. THat's why you try to do something. So yes.

scarymonsters8 asks: What was the hardest or most demanding scene you had to film?
Tim Burton: Every single one! Anything with horses. Horses don't like show business. Sheep are great! Deer are hard, they're not into show business either. It's a good thing bambi was animated!

timburtonfan asks: Do you watch much television?
Tim Burton: I'm watching Friends right now! No, just kidding., I do not. I haven't had a favorite show since Quincy.

nunomarkl asks: If you could, would you like to stage a fight between Batman and the Headless Horseman? Who would win?
Tim Burton: He'd rip his head off. I think the Horseman would win because it would be hard for Batman to get him into a headlock!

scullyitis asks: If you were only allowed one film to watch for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Tim Burton: The Omega Man with Charlton Heston.

fl_drizzle_99 asks: If you weren't making movies, what do you think you'd be doing?
Tim Burton: Wandering out into the desert drooling and talking to myself.

JanSvankmajer_SurrealistGenius asks: I read somewhere you liked the films of Jan Svankmajer, the Czech surrealist filmmaker/animator/puppeteer. Is it true? Do you think his work has influenced yours?
Tim Burton: I like his work. Certain stop motion is very much what captures a dream state. So I like it for that reason.

poetic_20 asks: I've always enjoyed the way all of your characters are outsiders. Does Ichabod Crane fit into that theme of alienation in this movie?
Tim Burton: To some degree. But it's slightly different than others. But I think I see everybody as an outsider in a way.
Even insiders are outsiders sometimes.

HOWDY_101_1998 asks: are you guys in a haunted house right now?
Tim Burton: No, I'm in a haunted hotel!

sallycinnoman asks: When does Sleepy Hollow open? I saw commercials for it a while ago, but I haven't heard anything recently
Tim Burton: November 19. A big Thanksgiving Pageant! But instead of Turkeys - it's people!

cid_eaterrrr asks: Mr. Burton, what is your favorite part of halloween?
Tim Burton: Eating all that candy and then having to go to the dentist to have all those fillings. I've always seen it as a first road to the dentist, my favorite place.

nunomarkl asks: If you lived in Sleepy Hollow, what would be your occupation?
Tim Burton: Town idiot.

sheenamunroe asks: A lot of your films are really dark, is this primarily through the lighting or do you tend to want to use filters? Are there any DOPs you really like working with?
Tim Burton: I've enjoyed e very DP I've worked with. I enjoyed Emanuel, the one I worked with on Sleepy Hollow. He's a great Mexican cameraman. So we could discuss all the great Mexican horror films. And aspire to have a little of that vibe in this. As for darkness, I'll try and change the exposure on the next picture. Or you might want to complain to your local theater for the bad projector bulbs.

Red_White19 asks: Do you enjoy watching the movies you have created
Tim Burton: 3 to 5 years after I finish them. They are all like your children, you accept them all and all their imperfections.

humphreybc asks: Hello Tim, I was wondering (as a fellow Vincent Price fan) which of his movies was your favorite?
Tim Burton: OO, so many! It might have to be one of the Roger Corman Poe films. Usher, Pit and the Pendulum or Tomb of Ligia.

timburtonfan asks: My four year old daughter loves Nightmare. Do you get letters from parents about how much their kids like your work?
Tim Burton: Yes, sometimes. It makes me very happy. Because often adults get freaked out and think kids might not like it. But kids have their own opinions and it makes me happy when they respond to the work.

timburtonfan asks: Did you want Sleepy Hollow to be a deviation from the formulas of your previous projects, or is there some kind of relation between all of them?
Tim Burton: I just wanted it to be a deviation.

amousley asks: Are you still planning on doing Sweeney Todd?
Tim Burton: Like this movie, any movie you do feels like your first and last. SO I have no plans for anything at this moment.

icedancer1121 asks: What are you going to be for halloween?
Tim Burton: I might try going as a human this year.

Host: Just a couple of more questions

cdennedy asks: You seem to have maintained the gothic approach to your films with "Sleepy Hollow", does it dissappoint you to see the shift of style in the Batman films from the dark image, which was quite authentic to the comic strip, to the more playful approach taken at the moment, which I believe is more akin to the television series?
Tim Burton: It's hard to know what is scarier, a Gothic sort of approach, or a more Ice Capades approach. IT's hard to know which is scarier, isn't it?

DeLaMuerta asks: I love the visual style in your films. What goes into deciding how the 'art of the film' will look like? How much say does the production designer have? Does he/she go by what you describe?
Tim Burton: Its a very organic process. I have an idea. BUt when you are trying to create something special, you never, you are constantly evolving that to try and achieve that, and it happens all the way thru filming. But, yeah, it is nice to work with people who listen to you sometimes!

HOWDY_101_1998 asks: What was the budget for sleepy hollow?
Tim Burton: We still have a few bills coming in. I think it is somewhere in the sixties. but there are a few catering bills still coming in.

primalucis asks: Mr. Burton, which person in your life do you respect the most?
Tim Burton: WHew! I don't know....we've crashed...I don't know....I'll have to get back to you on that one! I respect all people.

manolis_varnassinger asks: did you enjoy makin beetljuice back in the 80s
Tim Burton: Yes. I was surprised that any studio wanted to make it. Which made it very intriguing for me. There was a lot of improvisation. And it felt like an experiment all the way thru. Which my movies tend to feel like generally speaking.

timburtonfan asks: It appears that Sleepy Hollow is different than the other films you've done because of the dominant element of fear. Did you know how you wanted to approach the making of this film or did it come along as you worked?
Tim Burton: It came along as we worked. Like mixing a little bit of humor, with the darkness and the drama and the horror. So it was always a tricky time to find the right balance of all of those.

nunomarkl asks: Was the Headless Horseman's pumpkin in the original script or is it your personal trademark?
Tim Burton: It was not in the original draft that I read. But I think it was in the earlier draft, and we put it back in because we wanted to pay a little bit more homage to the original story that way.

martapuig_1999 asks: why did you choose UK to film Sleepy Hollow?:
Tim Burton: I had worked there ten years earlier on the first Batman. And I had an opportunity to work with some of the great artists I hadn't worked with or seen in ten yeras. And it afforded me the opportunity to work with some of the great British actors. So it was a real international cast and crew which was a lot of fun. A lot of funny accents going around! Thank you! And everybody should go out now. It's Halloween! Happy Halloween!

Host: Don't forget to check out the archives of the video webcast and the chat transcript
Thanks so much for joining us!
And go see the movie Sleepy Hollow on November 19th!
Happy Halloween!