"He wanted his vision and his vision alone and so I was there to help him realize that vision," Thomas explains. "He was collaborative, but he didn't want it to be a collaboration. He wanted it to be his, singularly, and that was it. And I think we got it."
And what was the greatest challenge? Why, Sparky, the heroic bull terrier, of course. It was based on a real dog, comprised of 300 joints because of the thinness of his legs, supported by special rigs. Burton demanded no anthropomorphizing whatsoever. For instance, after watching the puppet roll over, Burton decided he wanted him to spring back up, but the puppet wasn't capable of that. They had to quickly modify it.
"There was a lot of that trickery where we had to shoot around things and get puppets that are multi-purpose and popping puppets in between and doing some They didn't want to disappoint Burton or begrudge the vision that had festered in his brain for 30 years.
"As an American living amongst English people, you really have to distill the essence of what it was like living in Burbank in the '70s," Abbate explains. "Once you can find that way in for the artists and the puppet makers and prop makers, it's helpful to clarify it for audiences, too. Everyone brings that little bit of their experience to it. That's why some of the props are personal. Tim creates this place and allows you to bring your own stuff to it as well."
It's about turning the personal into the universal, which is what Burton has been doing all of these years as the Prince of Goth.