John August voices his joy with Frankenweenie and his general frustration with the industry in my latest TOH/Indiewire column.
August says it’s increasingly difficult to get quality features produced, let alone commercially embraced. That’s why he’s been dabbling in theater and TV, with a musical stage version of Burton’s Big Fish and the supernatural pilot Chosen for ABC and Fox, and making apps (including FDX Reader, a Final Draft for the iPad and iPhone) to help make screenwriting a lot easier.
Still, “quality plus time equals success,” August believes, so the notion that Frankenweenie will no longer be a strong Oscar contender because of its lackluster opening is premature. This Burton adventure wasn’t only personal for the director, who revisited his troubled childhood in Burbank in the ’70s, losing his canine companion and retreating into the fantastical world of horror.
“When Tim called, I knew I had to do that story,” August recalls. “I knew I had to do that relationship between a boy and his dog; I knew what the loss was; I knew what the excitement was. I had my own dog, Jake, who was 14 at the time. I knew I was going to lose him soon. He was a pug in the shape of Sparky. And I have a young daughter and we had conversations about the death of a beloved dog. It was the right movie.”