Oftentimes when we follow careers in filmmaking, it’s very easy to see common collaborators. You have Steven Spielberg and John Williams, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, and of course, Tim Burton and Danny Elfman. One would imagine that, in addition to them bringing out the best in each other, that part of the reason they work together is familiarity. When you’re a prolific creator, it helps to have collaborators who understand who you are and where you’re coming from.
So, you’d be forgiven if you thought familiarity or some sort of shorthand is partially responsible for Burton and Elfman’s consistent collaboration over the decades. When many of us think of Burton films, we think of Danny Elfman scores, and this will also be the case when looking at Dumbo, their latest work together. But it’s not always as easy as it seems. Speaking at a press conference for the film LRM Online had a chance to attend, Elfman went on to reveal an interesting fact about them working together:
“You know, it’s funny, this is our 17th film. And I still never know what to expect from Tim at all. People think that oh, you must have the shorthand, where it’s real simple. And I go no, actually, working with Tim is a lot less simple than a lot of other directors. His mind is strange and interesting. And I learned many years ago never to take for granted what I think he’s going to want. “
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Elfman then dove into the process of working with Burton:
“It’s always a kind of round about process of when we start the film, he’ll say very little about the music. We have a thing called a spotting session where we go through the whole film top to bottom and break it down into all the musical parts and give them all a name and a number. If the movie is an hour 45 minute long, the spotting session will be two hours and 15 minutes. If the movies is two hours, it will be two and a half hours. Real quick. Doesn’t want to talk about it. When there’s music to hear, then he’ll talk. So this is something that we’ve learned together. Talking about it beforehand doesn’t actually get us anywhere really. Because he’ll respond. He’ll respond to what he hears. Then I’ll do a lot of ideas and I’ll get the sense. Oh, okay. This one is the one you’re responding to. One thing I do have to say is when I got the call about the movie, this is one of the first questions I always have, is Rick and Colleen on the project? And if it is, I’m like yes.”
So, from the sound of it, it likely has very little to do with a shorthand, and more to do with having faith in each other to make a great end product. Regardless of whether or not it’s easy for them, it’s undeniable that they’ve been able to create many iconic films together.
Do you think Dumbo will be one of them? Let us know your thoughts down below!