The Brilliance of Tim Burton

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Tim Burton is one of the most visionary and interesting digital story tellers. I find his work to be extremly individualistic, potent and powerful. However, Burton is not my favourite Director. Apparently Luc Besson is. Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Sergio Leone, George Lucas and the late, great Alfred Hitchcock. All fabulous directors. Spike Jonze is an incredible digital storyteller in the music video format. MTV and their Canadian counterpart MuchMusic were huge influences in my life. 5 minute movies with a soundtrack. Matt Groening is arguably the most successful cartoonist of all time with his digital story, The Simpsons; being the longest running syndicated television show in history. My imbibed love of Luc Besson stems from my GAP year in England, many moons ago, when I was lucky enough to be taught some of the finer things in life by a colleague Matthew Piper. Field hockey, philosophy & life; while music from the record label 4AD soundtracked his imparted love of Luc Besson. He walked me through the cinematography of Big Blue which was astounding and explained how the small green plant from Léon would change the nature of dialogue for me.

In what is a perfect melding of theory and practice; my Grade Twos next Unit of Inquiry will be storytelling after the October break. Our central idea is “ideas and experiences can be expressed as stories and shared through the arts” and one of the activities my students will complete is to create a digital story. This CoETaIL assignment allows me to examine the theory behind digital storytelling and then shortly after put my learning into practice. One of the Lines of Inquiry of our unit will be “artists realise there is a dynamic connection between the audience and performer”. I think this is never more apparent to the creator than when their work is shared with another. Our class will be planning out our stories with the Arts Integration Team and then publishing them through a variety of media.

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It is incredible how Tim Burton has cast Helena Bonham Carter & Johnny Depp in so many different roles with completely different looks.

Why then? If he is not my favourite director, what reason is Tim Burton is mentioned (revered) in the title of this post? It is because of my admiration for his artistic vision, style and creativity. He is different, an innovator, a thinker and someone who changed the industry. Where Tim Burton is unparalleled is his ability to bring his vision to the screen. Digital storytelling is the sweet spot of technological advancement and innovation. Video is the ultimate media and the opportunity to bring Freud’s theory of your Creative Id to life. Tabula Rasa. A way to open the inner workings of your mind to the world. When I think of style or of creating a genre then Tim Burton’s name has become synonymous with a style. In fact the respected movie producer Joel Silver said “When you’re talking about Tim Burton, you’re talking about a guy that has such a visual sense, an aesthetic, a storytelling style. It’s like he’s got his own genre.”

In that vein, I have included the digital story which has resonated throughout my school and had a major impact on student life at ICS. In collaboration with our own visionary cinematographer, Norm Lamontagne; we created a video which would tell the story of a student who wished to change how keyboarding skills were seen in primary. As a shy student who needed learning support, he found that by developing his typing skills he was able to use a computer to complete assignments much more easily and to a higher quality. Nico would give away a “Golden Keyboard” away in assembly to the Typist of the Month. Primary students threw themselves into developing their skills and Nico became a hero to the students of the school. A older video, I also couldn’t resist including A Type of King as there is a superb cameo from Mr Brett Penny who was at the time the Primary Principal at ICS.

More than anything, it will be this passion that I try to pass onto my Grade Two’s. I hope to share my love of Tim Burton’s creativity and show how he maintained his unique ethos while morphing Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter into 8 different characters in 8 different movies. My goal will be to give the students that sense of overarching ownership and empower their creativity in digital storytelling in the next unit. A chance to give someone a glimpse into our version of the world is rare yet incredibly important.

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