The following is Tim Burton’s foreword of the book "The Nightmare Before Christmas: the Film, the Art, the Vision". All copyright goes to Tim Burton.
"Nightmare Before Christmas is a movie I’ve wanted to make for over a decade, since I worked as an animator at Walt Disney Studios in the early eighties. It started as a poem I wrote, influenced by the style of my favorite children’s author, Dr. Seuss. I made several drawings of the characters and the settings and began planning it as a film.
I thought at first that Nightmare Before Christmas would make a good holiday special for television, although I also considered other forms, including a children’s book. At the time, I think, it was too weird for Disney. I moved on to other things, but I never forgot it.
Although the title makes the film sound a little scary, I see Nightmare Before Christmas as a positive story, without any truly bad characters. The characters are trying to do something good and just get mixed up.
Like a lot of people, I grew up loving the animated specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and How the Grinch Stole Christmas that appeared on TV every year. I wanted to create something with the same kind of feeling and warmth.
Nightmare is the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of HalloweenTown, who discovers Christmas and immediately wants to celebrate this strange holiday himself. I love Jack. He has a lot of passion and energy; he’s always looking for a feeling. That’s what he finds in Christmas Town. He is a bit misguided and his emotions take over, but he gets everybody excited. The setting may be odd and a little unsettling, but there are no real villains in the film. It’s a celebration of Halloween and Christmas--my two favorite holidays.
I decided early on that I wanted to tell this story through stopmotion animation. I have always loved this medium, but it is challenging. One danger is that the audience may become overwhelmed by the technique and get distracted from the emotion.
Luckily, I was able to entrust Nightmare Before Christmas to my friend Henry Selick, the most brilliant stop-motion director around. We have a similar sensibility, and he was able to take my original drawings and bring them to life. He gathered together an amazing crew in San Francisco — a wonderful group of artists, all working toward the same vision. Everybody put their heart into it — Henry, the composer Danny Elfman, the screenwriter Caroline Thompson, the animators, everybody down the line — making it an incredibly challenging, and rewarding experience.
Nightmare Before Christmas is deeper in my heart than any other film. It is more beautiful than I imagined it would be. Thanks to Henry and his talented crew of artists, animators, and designers. As I watch it, I know I will never have this feeling again. Nightmare Before Christmas is special. It is a film that I have always known I had to make. More important, it is a film I have always wanted to see. Now I can. It has been worth the wait. I think there are few projects like that in your life."
- Tim Burton