The River talks to top Hollywood producer Allison Abbate of Frankenweenie

Having control over George Clooney may be many women’s dream, yet it is all in a day’s work for Hollywood producer Allison Abbate.

Max Parker

Allison Abbate is a master of stop motion animation, a time consuming art involving highly detailed puppets that are moved manually to create scenes.

She has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, notably Meryl Streep and 2005’s ‘Sexiest Star of all time,’ silver-haired George Clooney. They collaborated on 2009’s re-telling of Roald Dahl’s lovable tale Fantastic Mr Fox and Abbate recollects how they prepared Clooney for his role.

“Poor George Clooney, we made him dig in the dirt and climb around barns and stuff like that and that was not just a publicity stunt.”

Laughing, she added: “George was up for anything and he was totally game.”

A strong bond of creepy camera

Partnering with Tim Burton on A Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride and 2012’s Frankenweenie, she has developed a strong bond with the master of creepy cinema.

Native New Yorker turned Hollywood resident, Abbate said: “He’s a kind director and it’s just super fun to get inside that head and realise the visions that he has.”

More accolades on the horizon

First gaining recognition for the 1993 atmospheric stop motion hit A Nightmare Before Christmas, producer Abbate went on to win a prestigious BAFTA in 2000 for The Iron Giant.

More accolades could be on the horizon as Frankenweenie has been nominated alongside Wreck-It Ralph, and Brave for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Academy Awards.

Abbate said: “One of the best things to come out of these accolades is that it gets exposure to the film and gets people to watch it.  You make a movie like this for the love of the project.”

Working with Johnny Depp

Abbate has also teamed up with another of Hollywood’s most sought after stars, Johnny Depp, on multiple occasions.

“He would come in and really work with us and we would show him the puppets and he was really gentle, the Corpse Bride was such a gentle and poetic film. He was really lovely.”

Sticking to animation

Frankenweenie was met with great critical acclaim last year, yet it garnered debate over the addition of 3D in postproduction, rather than shooting in it.

She said: “Tim (Burton) and I agreed that you have much more control over it when it’s a post process, you’re not encumbering the filming process with the technology of shooting in 3D.”

Abbate has so far stuck firmly to animation films during her career and has recently been linked to Guillermo Del Toro’s retelling of the classic tale, Pinocchio.

Frankenweenie is out on DVD and Blu-Ray February 25.

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