Tim Burton (1982)
While working as a conceptual artist at Walt Disney Productions, Tim Burton found himself two allies in Disney executive Julie Hickson, and Head of Creative Development Tom Wilhite. The two were impressed with Burton’s unique talents and, while not “Disney material”, they felt he deserved respect. As such, in 1982, Wilhite gave Burton $60,000 to produce an adaptation of a poem Burton had written titled Vincent. Burton had originally planned the poem to be a children’s short story book but thought otherwise.
Together with fellow Disney animator Rick Heinrichs, stop motion animator Stephen Chiodo and cameraman Victor Abdalov, Burton worked on the project for two months and came up with the six-minute short film. Shot in stark black-and-white in the style of the German Expressionist films of the 1920s, Vincent imagines himself in a series of situations inspired by the Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe films that had such an effect on Burton as a child, including experimenting on his dog — a theme that would subsequently appear in Frankenweenie — and welcoming his aunt home while simultaneously conjuring up the image of her dipped in hot wax. Vincent Malloy, the main character in the film, bears a striking resemblance to Tim Burton himself.
The film was narrated by Burton’s childhood idol, Vincent Price, and marked the beginning of a friendship between them that lasted until Price’s death in 1993. Burton credits the experience as one of the most formative experiences of his life.
The film was theatrically released for two weeks in one Los Angeles cinema with the teen drama Tex. Before it was consigned to the Disney vaults, it garnered several critical accolades when it played at film festivals in London, Chicago and Seattle, winning two awards at Chicago and the Critics’ Prize at the Annecy Film Festival in France.
The film is narrated by actor Vincent Price, a lifelong idol and inspiration for Burton. From this relationship, Price would go on to appear in Burton’s Edward Scissorhands. Price later made the following statement:
“Vincent was the most gratifying thing that ever happened. It was immortality — better than a star on Hollywood Boulevard.”-Vincent Price