Friday, September 3, 2010

Tim Burton

If you happen to find yourself in Melbourne before the 10th October this year, you must, must, must go and see the Tim Burton exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, at Federation Square, Melbourne. Even if Burton's particular brand of kook and creep isn't your thing, it's worth it to see someone's creative journey so clearly plotted out, especially from his very earliest motivation - escaping the boredom and banality of Burbank, California in the 1960s and '70s. Personally, I think that idea is best summed up in the scene where the cars all reverse out of the driveways at the same time, drive off, then return the same way at the end of the day. And of course there is this vision of suburban malaise...

But what struck me most strongly - and I tell my creative writing students this all the time now - was how normal his writing was when he was in middle school. The exhibition contains a number of his creative writing pieces, and while they're not bad, they're no better or worse than the average piece of creative writing I see from regular, everyday middle-school kids. I see this as encouraging evidence that while success as an artist must owe something to natural ability, it probably owes just as much to identifying an area of interest and persisting at it. Clearly Tim Burton has talent in bucketloads, but I'd also argue that a clear vision and a strong drive for success played a pretty major part as well.