In this very special Halloween episode of Script Apart, we step inside the ghoulish, gothic holiday musical that’s enchanted millions worldwide since its release in 1993. We’re talking of course about The Nightmare Before Christmas – the timeless, twisted story of a pumpkin king named Jack Skellington and his ragdoll friend Sally. Our guest this week, Caroline Thompson, wrote the film’s screenplay, based on a poem by producer Tim Burton, with songs by composer Danny Elfman.
Caroline, who also wrote Edwards Scissorhands, came onboard the project at an eventful time. Things hadn’t worked out with another screenwriter. With production already underway, it was up to Caroline to turn a loose story into a living, breathing script, with a convincing love interest for Jack Skellington. The pressures facing Burton, Caroline and director Henry Selick led to a frenzied creative environment where, as you’ll discover in this episode, tempers often flared. It was worth it, though. Animated movies don’t come much more beloved than the deliriously imaginative Nightmare Before Christmas.
Here’s Caroline on her chaotic experience making the movie, why she’ll always a place in her heart for Frankensteinian sweetheart Sally, why she fought but failed to change the villainous Oogie Boogie, and the likelihood of a Nightmare Before Christmas sequel ever seeing the light of day.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn’t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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