Interview: Zack Snyder: The Watchman of "300"
by Scott Juba
Published: March 8, 2007
With the Friday release of “300”, Zack Snyder will have two feature-film directing credits. Yet, his name is already synonymous with success. Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, “300” presents a stylized account of the 480 B.C. Battle of Thermopylae. The battle proved to be a catalyst for all of Greece uniting to defeat the Persians and played an important role in the advent of democracy.
Snyder credits Warner Bros. President of Production Jeff Robinov with giving him the encouragement and artistic freedom to make “300” a truly innovative and unique moviegoing experience. “Jeff is incredibly nurturing,” Snyder says, “and he was the one who encouraged me not to second guess myself and to just make the movie I thought was cool. He encouraged me to reinvent the swords and sandals genre. Whatever that took, he was into it.”
Given the subject matter of the film, it’s not surprising that some are making comparisons to present-day political events. While everyone may have a different interpretation of “300”, Snyder says he did not intend to make a political statement with the film. “Honestly, I didn’t mean for the movie to be interpreted that way,” he tells me. “When I look at the reviews, the thing that is interesting to me, [for example], is when someone mentions neocon in the review. Then, I feel like they’ve brought their politics to the review. That’s cool, I guess. It’s interesting to me, because you ask, ‘Is that what was intended?’”
Regardless of the various interpretations people have of the film, the buzz surrounding it and the critical acclaim it is receiving indicates “300” may be a resounding success at the box-office. In terms of what impact current success can have on his future prospects, Snyder says, “The better you do, the better it goes. And I believe that. You’re always trying to get your vision on-screen and whatever battles you have to fight to do that, you need to get all your tools on your side. [If past success helps], that’s awesome.”
Not surprisingly, Snyder’s future prospects are bright. He will direct the upcoming film adaptation of “Watchmen”, and will also helm a project titled, “Sucker Punch”. In terms of the progress he’s made on “Watchmen”, Snyder tells me, “I’ve been thinking about a lot of actors [I’d like to cast], which I probably shouldn’t say, because I’m not just thinking about them, I’ve been physically talking to them. For me, getting the movie together is something I’m really serious about, and we’re moving forward as fast as we can to do that.”
Snyder reaffirms previous reports that he won’t use as many CG environments in “Watchmen” as he did in “300”. “I like organic things, and when you start doing CG stuff, there’s a lot of limitations on you,” Snyder admits. “People are always trying to say, ‘No, don’t do this. Don’t do that.’ Or, ‘Don’t move the camera. Don’t tilt it.’ [Laughs]. The visual effects guys are always telling me, ‘Oh, you’re going to ruin the shot.’ I operate the camera a lot, so I’m usually the one they’re actually yelling at. That part is exhausting a little bit. But you know what, in the end, it’s fun as hell.”
Snyder’s other upcoming project, “Sucker Punch”, focuses on a girl in a mental institution who imagines an alternate reality where she begins to concoct her escape. According to Snyder, music will play an integral role in the movie. “In the story, music is the thing that launches them into these fantasy worlds,” he explains. “Music is a thing I find really intriguing and emotional, so it becomes the backbone of the movie in some ways…In the case of 'Sucker Punch', it’s actual songs. We haven’t decided if it will be songs that you know or songs that you don’t know, but it’s my feeling that the music will be the thing that creates part of the mood.”
He adds, “I wanted to design a thing where there’s no limits on me at all, and that’s a difficult thing. And I still want it to be a cool story and not just like a video game where you’re just loose and going nuts. Personally, there are moments I like in movies that are larger than life. That’s what I was trying to say. How can I do this? How can I get that moment over and over? I think that could be fun.”
Judging by the quality of Snyder’s recent work, his movies will continue to be a source of fun for moviegoers for many years to come.