Frankenweenie animator modest about Oscar nod


Stop-motion blockbuster Frankenweenie is up for an Oscar and BAFTA award this month but the supervising animator, who is a graduate of the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) at Farnham, is more excited about the audience’s reaction than The Academy’s.

Mark Waring, a graduate of UCA Farnham’s famous BA (Hons) Animation course, finds Frankenweenie up against ParaNorman at both ceremonies, which was written and directed by fellow UCA alumnus Chris Butler.

Mark, whose last three films FrankweenieFantastic Mr Fox and Corpse Bride have all been nominated for Academy Awards, said: “It’s a nice accolade to have films nominated for Oscars and BAFTAs but for me, it’s more important that people have been to see the film in the cinema and really enjoyed it – that’s what makes the years of hard work all worthwhile.

“I know Chris Butler after working with him on Corpse Bride so it’s great that he’s nominated.”

Mark could soon be making the move into directing himself, after being entrusted by Tim Burton to make the short film Captain Sparky v The Flying Saucers for the DVD/Blu Ray release of Frankenweenie which is out on 25 February 2013.

Mark said: “Being asked to direct Captain Sparky was a fantastic opportunity for me and a great end to two years of hard work on Frankenweenie because it was another little step up the ladder for me and my career.

“The idea of taking an element from the film – the home movie – and make more of it was just great. I loved making my own home movies on my Super 8 as a kid and, in fact, it was these home movies which earned me a place on the Animation course at university. So, for me personally, it felt like I had gone full circle on this project and all of the elements fitted together and really resonated for me.”

Disney’s Frankenweenie, which was produced in 3D and made on three stages, with 50 units and 30 animators, is a far cry from the zero budget films Mark created while studying at UCA.

Mark, who graduated from UCA in 1989, explained: “The stop-motion techniques we use in the big Hollywood productions are far more complex than anything I used at university.

“When I was there, we had basic wire armature puppets and, if we were lucky, a ball and socket joint but some of the concept puppets on Frankenweenie cost around £40,000 to make and have winding mechanisms inside the head which allow a character to open their mouth, change their expression, talk or smile, which you can’t make at university – or even on a children’s TV programme – because you don’t have the money or development time to do it.

“That doesn’t make it’ll be a less interesting or successful film because it’s the strength of the story and skill of the animators which is what really matters.

“Even on a feature film, you’re trying to find the best way of telling a story – you can create amazing sets and the best puppets in the world but if it doesn’t tell your story, you’ve failed – that’s probably the most important thing I learned at UCA and what’s always stayed with me.”

The BA (Hons) Animation degree at UCA has produced three Oscar winners – Suzie Templeton (2008), Michael Dudok de Wit (2000) and Daniel Greaves (1992) – and numerous BAFTA winners, which does not surprise Mark.

He added: “I think the prestige of the course goes ahead of it, so it attracts very talented people. When I was there, I was well aware of that and wasn’t surprised to see half of the second years get poached to work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit? when the producers realised they had all the necessary skills to go straight into the job – I’m sure it’s the same now, which is great.”

The BAFTA Awards are this Sunday 10 February while the 85th Academy Awards take place on Sunday 24 February.

Frankenweenie is out on Blu Ray/DVD 25 February 2013.

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