Tim Burton, known for his characters and films with a distinctive style, shares his thoughts on artificial intelligence and its threat to animation.
“They had the AI create my versions of Disney characters!” he exclaimed in response. “I can’t describe the feeling it gives you. It reminded me of when other cultures say, ‘Don’t take a picture of me because it’ll take your soul away.’”
AI-generated examples included Elsa von Frozen with a pale white face and a black dress in a seemingly enchanted forest, just like Aurora sleeping Beauty with a similarly colored face but with stitches on the cheeks and lying in a long, dark dress.
Although Burton admitted that some of the creations were “very good”, this did not change the less than pleasant feeling he got when his creative style was imitated.
“It sucks something out of you,” he explained. “It takes something away from your soul or psyche; This is very disturbing, especially when it concerns you. It’s like a robot takes your humanity, your soul.”
The use of AI in Hollywood is an ongoing debate across the industry, with many wanting protection from the technology. This is particularly a key concern for actors and writers, who have been on strike for months after contract negotiations with studios and streamers stalled, and AI was one of the focal points they couldn’t agree on.
Later in the interview, Burton also talked about how stressful it can be making big studio films, but that he still tries to focus on the positive in all of his projects.
“That’s why it’s hard for me to watch the films afterwards, because I still feel the emotionality of them. I don’t get any approval for this. But I enjoy all the people I have worked with,” said the director. “On that last point Beetlejuice 2, I really enjoyed it. I tried to strip everything away and go back to the basics of working with good people, actors and puppets. It was like going back to the reason why I like making films.”
Burton added that the Beetlejuice Filming on the sequel, starring Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Jenna Ortega and Willem Dafoe, was almost finished before the strikes were called. He hopes to finish as soon as the strikes are resolved.
“I’m grateful we got what we got. Literally, it was a day and a half,” he said of the film, which is scheduled to hit theaters in September. 6, 2024. “We know what we have to do. It’s 99 percent complete.”