Tim Burton is a filmmaker who is best known for his ghoulish movies. His obsession with all things dark and ominous makes him the perfect man for Halloween themed cinema. Some of these iconic films include Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Corpse Bride. Yet believe it or not, before Burton’s longstanding career of gothic content, he worked as an animator for Disney.
It’s hard to believe that the king of “spooky season” himself worked for a company as squeaky clean as Disney. And unfortunately for Burton, he describes the experience as “torturous.” But what classic Disney film did Burton work for as an animator? You’ll never believe the answer.
Tim Burton was ‘emotionally agitated’ while working for Walt Disney Studios
The gothic-fantasy filmmaker has directed over 30 films according to IMDb, from Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, to Disney’s remake of Dumbo.
It’s coincidental that Burton would direct a Disney live-action remake, considering he worked for the company in the 1970s. But unfortunately for Burton, he felt like a “zombie factory worker” while working for Disney, thinking he wasn’t allowed to express himself creatively. He describes the process as “emotionally agitating” in his book, Burton on Burton.
The classic Disney film that Tim Burton worked on as an animator
So. Which classic Disney movie did the Nightmare Before Christmas director work on as an animator? Was it Beauty and The Beast? The Little Mermaid? Mulan? As it turns out, Burton directed one of the most tragic Disney films that singlehandedly destroyed the innocence of a generation. That movie was The Fox and The Hound.
The filmmaker describes his experience in Burton on Burton, saying that he didn’t fit in with Disney at all. He adds that his years working for the “magical” company were the most “depressing years” of his whole life, and that he felt tortured while working on The Fox and The Hound.
“Disney and I were a bad mix,” Burton says in his biography. “For a year, I was probably more depressed than I have ever been in my life. I worked for a great animator, Glenn Kean. He was nice, he was good to me, he’s a really strong animator, and he helped me… But he also kind of tortured me,” he adds. “Because I got all the cute fox scenes to draw. And I couldn’t draw all those four-legged Disney foxes. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even fake the Disney style. Mine looked like road kill. So luckily, I got a lot of far-away shots to do. But it was not good; it was like Chinese water torture. Perhaps it was just the film I was working on,” he admits. “Imagine drawing a cute fox with Sandy Duncan’s voice for three years. It’s not something that you can relate to very much.”
Tim Burton says he was ‘unable to function’ while working for Disney
In Burton on Burton, the filmmaker says he felt “depressed” at Disney, and “couldn’t function well.” He reveals in his biography, “But what’s odd about Disney is that they want you to be an artist, but at the same time they want you to be a zombie factory worker and have no personality. It takes a very special person to make those two sides of your brain coexist. So I was very emotionally agitated at that time and couldn’t really function well. I learned how to sleep sitting up with a pencil in my hand. It was so bad.”
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