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Pinocchio Wasn't Guillermo Del Toro's First Stab At Stop-Motion

Considering the amount of time it takes to film a stop-motion production, it's very rare to see a director like live-action filmmaker Guillermo del Toro dip his toes into the classic form of animation, as he did with his latest film, "Pinocchio." On top of the lengthy production time that it takes to make a stop-motion feature — where figures are slightly moved for every frame (via Movieweb) — del Toro told Deadline that his version of "Pinocchio," thanks to development hang-ups and studio disinterest, was 18 years in the making.

Very few esteemed live-action directors have cut their teeth on the stop-motion medium, perhaps most notably Tim Burton, who directed the film short "Vincent" during his early days at Walt Disney Animation Studios (via Cartoon Brew). From there, of course, Burton produced and wrote the poem that inspired the 1993 holiday classic "The Nightmare Before Christmas," which was directed by Henry Selick ("Wendell & Wild"). Burton then went on to direct two more stop-motion features from there: "Corpse Bride" in 2005, along with director Mike Johnson; and "Frankenweenie" in 2012.

As it turns out, del Toro, like Burton, was first passionate about animation before shooting live-action fare, as the Oscar-winning "Shape of Water" recently recalled when his love for stop-motion began.

Del Toro's first attempt at a stop-motion film came before his live-action debut

In an interview with Deadline to discuss the release of "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio," the writer-director shared a story about his early ambitions as a stop-motion filmmaker, which began long before the 1993 debut of his first live-action film, the vampire thriller "Cronos."

"I started with animation before live action. I was teaching animation in high school at 17 to kids 15 and 14," Guillermo del Toro recalled for Deadline. "I started a company that did for 10 years special effects and stop motion, and I was supposed to start with a stop-motion movie before 'Cronos.'"

Unfortunately for the filmmaker, his attempt at making a stop-motion feature was literally crushed by some would-be burglars who busted into his hometown studio in Guadalajara, Mexico. "Between my then-girlfriend and my brother, we built over a hundred puppets with clay. I did the armatures, we did the sculpting, the design, we built a few sets and we started the first day of photography — I was animating the puppet," del Toro said. "We left for dinner and we got burglarized. And the burglars, frustrated for not finding anything of value, crushed every single puppet and pooped and peed all over the floor." The director added that the cruel incident was a "signal" for him "to go to live action."

Co-directed by Mark Gustafson, "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio" is a darker take on the time-honored puppet tale by Carlo Collodi, which confronts fascism in Italy before World War II (via Entertainment Weekly). The film is playing in select theaters before it debuts on Netflix on December 9.