By Starrla Cray
WAVERLY, MN Tim Lammers has interviewed well over 1,000 famous actors and filmmakers in his career as an entertainment journalist but Hollywood hasn’t changed his local roots.
“My first paid writing gig was doing a $5 weekly movie column for the Howard Lake Herald in the early 1990s,” Lammers said, adding that every opportunity has shaped him as a journalist.
These days, Lammers lives in Waverly with his wife, Patty, and their children (Dalton, Cleo, Quinn, and Laine).
He reviews films weekly on KARE-TV (NBC) and select radio outlets in the Midwest; is a syndicated entertainment writer whose work is distributed to dozens of websites across the US by Internet Broadcasting Network; is an entertainment news producer at BringMeTheNews.com in Minneapolis; and his work appears on sites such as Esquire.com and FEARnet.com.
With such a busy schedule, one might think Lammers would kick back and relax on evenings and weekends. Instead, he made time for one more writing project an e-book titled “Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton.”
The e-book (available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major retailers) shares detailed interviews with Burton, while highlighting the 20th anniversary of one of Burton’s celebrated films, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
“This has been amongst the most fun I’ve had doing a writing project; it’s right up there at the top,” Lammers said.
In addition to “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Burton is well-known for the creation two other stop-motion films: “Corpse Bride,” and “Frankenweenie.”
“He really defined the stop-motion feature film genre,” Lammers said, adding that the movies require a “very specific kind of artist a very patient artist.”
In stop motion, animation is created by repositioning physical objects a tiny bit at a time between individually photographed frames. When the frames are pieced together, it gives the illusion that the object is moving on its own.
Burton became mesmerized with stop motion as a child, through the 1964 TV classic about a red-nosed reindeer.
“I used to wait every year for ‘Rudolph.’ It was a very special event when that came on,” Burton states in chapter 3 of Lammers’ e-book.
Conversations with Tim Burton
Lammers’ first interview with Burton took place eight years ago.
“I knew from the first time I talked with him, in 2006, that he was an absolutely genuine person,” Lammers said. “He’s such an influential director, and a wonderful guy.”
Through the years, Lammers had the opportunity to speak with Burton multiple times, as well as many of Burton’s collaborators.
“I always had a book project in the back of my mind for Tim Burton and other filmmakers I admire,” Lammers said.
And, with the 20th anniversary of “Nightmare Before Christmas,” Lammers saw a perfect opportunity to start.
Because traditional publishing often takes more than a year, Lammers opted for an e-book, which can be downloaded onto a computer, iPad, Nook, or Kindle.
“What I’ve found is, the writing really is the easy part,” he said. “The time consuming part is the technical work preparing it for copy editing, arranging for a publisher, getting photos, and securing rights to your old material . . . Having that all behind me, it’ll be a little easier the next time around.”
In the future, Lammers plans to make a series of “Direct Conversations” e-books. His next subject will be 24-year-old actor Daniel Radcliffe, who is best known for his lead role in the “Harry Potter” movies.
“It won’t be so much about ‘Harry Potter,’ but about the risks he’s taken after ‘Harry Potter,’” Lammers said.
Past, present, future
One of Lammers’ long-term goals is to someday get his work published in a traditional book format, but in the meantime, he’s happy for the opportunity to share his stories in a lasting digital format.
“I love for people to be informed and entertained,” he said. “There’s nothing more exciting for me than figuring out a story, making that story flow, and making it make sense.”
Lammers didn’t always have a passion for journalism, however. After graduating from Howard Lake-Waverly High School in 1983, he attended Mankato State University, and got a degree in political science and law enforcement.
His father, Jim, had been a Wright County Sheriff’s deputy for many years, and his mother, Annella, (who passed away in 1996) was the volunteer coordinator at Good Samaritan Society in Howard Lake.
For about three years after college, Lammers worked as a deputy clerk in Minneapolis. During that time, he was asked to write short movie reviews for the employee newsletter.
“Because I was doing that, someone suggested, ‘hey, why don’t you go write for your local newspaper?’” Lammers recalled.
So, Lammers sent a letter and writing clips to Dale Kovar at the Howard Lake Herald, where he was paid $5 per week to write a movie review column.
“I went on to become editor of the paper, and in between, went to Brown Institute and ended up working with entertainment reporter and anchor Bill Carlson at WCCO-TV,” Lammers noted.
Lammers also spent 10 years as entertainment editor for a network of 75 nationwide TV websites for ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and The CW, and he’s done movie reviews for WCCO-AM.
Lammers said he’s never discouraged by the word “no,” because it makes him work harder.
“Don’t let anybody ever tell you what you can and cannot do,” he said. “If you really want your voice to be heard, you can do it.”
To see a list of places to purchase Lammers' e-book go to www.directconversations.com.