Frankenweenie: Chatting with producers Allison Abbate and Don Hahn at Disney’s new art exhibit

Once my Baby Jack had a goldfish that I brought back to life. Three times.

Well, not really- but after goldfish #1 floated to the top of the bowl one day, The Husband would bring home a new goldfish after work and when Baby Jack was distracted I would plop Goldfish #2 (and later #3 and #4) into the bowl. Explaining a pet dying is never easy- and surely many kids have fantasized about bringing their beloved pet back to life.

Enter Tim Burton and his story Frankenweenie.

           with my new BFF don. Call me Maybe?              

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Disney gave me a great opportunity this week; to chat with Don Hahn and Allison Abbate – the producers of the new Tim Burton creation “Frankenweenie”. This full length 3D stop animation film is an expansion of a story Tim told in a 1984 short by the same title. In conjunction with the movies release, Disney has installed an exhibit (The Art of Frankenweenie)  in Disney’s California Adventure (in the Animation building) that included ACTUAL sets and characters from the production.


I realize how difficult it is to understand the scale of these sets- and the photos look more like movie stills – but the mom at the counter is a little bigger than a Barbie. And all that teeny tiny stuff? All of it hand made by 50+ artisans. And even though I am a miniature freak, and spent many many months as a child creating ‘sets’ and miniatures for my Barbies’ homes as a child…I was simply just BLOWN AWAY at the immersive creative result of these sets before me.


If that teacher character looks familiar it was deliberately patterned after Vincent Price by Tim Burton. Actually ALL the characters and sets are based on total replication of sketches and designs by Tim himself. Not approximations. Not estimations. But completely bringing the characters to life in miniature, poseable form. This movie- perhaps more than any other is the direct creative vision of Tim. And everyone who worked on it (at times up to 150 individuals) had an intense passion to help Tim bring his vision to life. Even if that meant producing only about 5 seconds of footage A WEEK in some cases.


This little classroom science counter? About 2” high. TWO INCHES HIGH PEOPLE. Oh fun fact- Allison explained to me that the paper on the bulletin boards was all backed in foil, so that they could be manipulated fame by frame to show movement when needed.


After touring the exhibition a few of us were able to  sit down with these award winning producers, and ask a few questions. I have decided to leave the video unedited…which means you need to turn it up when they are talking (no mics)… so it is pretty poor quality video but as you will see- these are really nice folks. Passionate. Creative and pretty darn normal  : )


Marcy’s Side thought(s) : Yes, the movie is in black and white 3D and you can see by the sets 99% of the creations were all manufactured in black and white as well. 99% of the film is ‘real’ (not computer generated) and the other 1% is a sky or a lawn or something they need to, as Allison said ‘let the movie soar’. The sets were the most elaborate and some of the largest ever made for a stop-action film.

The movie is a technical marvel,


all to tell the story of a boy and the dog he loved.
[Appropriate for the most of the family. opens oct 5th. ]

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