Quint interviews Zack Snyder about 300 and WATCHMEN at Comic Con!!!
Published at: July 23, 2006, 3:10 a.m. CST by staff
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the first transcribed interview of Comic-Con 2006. As of right this very moment (Saturday night) I have done 11 one on one interviews (and have gotten one Academy Award Dirty Joke, but more on that later) and have 4 more scheduled for tomorrow. So, 1 of 15 and I start off with a bang.
I've been pretty vocal about my position on the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake (good movie, shouldn't be called DAWN OF THE DEAD) and haven't really known what the hell to expect out of 300. I honestly viewed it as a copy of Robert Rodriguez's Frank Miller adaptation SIN CITY and expected it to look exactly the same... The footage they showed at the panel was astonishing. Probably one of the most beautiful pieces of film I've seen in a long, long time. This film feels open and epic, whereas Robert's film is kind of down and dirty, intimate. Some truly striking imagery is in here and people went nuts for it at the con, asking for the footage to be replayed over and over again.
Snyder is also directing WATCHMEN, Alan Moore's "Citizen Kane of Comic Books," and luckily for us he talks quite freely about his take on the material and what his plans are or the flick. Enjoy the interview (and that badass 300 poster behind him)!
QUINT: I've been coming to Comic-Con for 7 years now and I don't think I've seen a reaction like that since Sam Raimi showed the Doc Ock operation room sequence from SPIDER-MAN 2 here... and he didn't run it 3 times.
ZACK SNYDER: Oh, really? You know, the thing with it... I like watching it. I was like, maybe we should just... I didn't know they were going to show it again right away, that was crazy. I was like, "Maybe we should watch it again... okay, here it comes..."
QUINT: I was going to start out asking about how close you stuck to Frank Miller's original, but now that I've seen the footage that question is already answered. I mean, I recognized single panels from the book, much like SIN CITY. Although, I think SIN CITY lacks that epic scope this film has because it's much more intimate...
ZACK SNYDER: Absolutely and an urban setting, you know? You're kinda like, "A brick building. I know what that is..."
QUINT: Who's doing the effects for 300?
ZACK SNYDER: It's a bunch of different houses. A company called Hybrid, a company called Fitzpatrick, there's Screaming Death Monkey... there's a bunch of other ones, too. Everyone's doing an awesome job... There's Meteor.
It's funny. The hardest part is having to educate the visual effects companies not to do reality, right? Because normally... (he picks up his cup and drops it back down onto the table) if I'm doing a CG cup, I know I've gotten right when it looks like a cup. You can tell. But for our movie, it's like "No... it's too real." I'll be like, "What the fuck? What is this mountain? This looks like a mountain." And they're like, "Ah, well... we took a... okay, we're sorry."
QUINT: But you had them make it more like Frank Miller's drawings.
ZACK SNYDER: Yeah. Grant, who is one of the visual effects guys. He does these... I forgot to announce (on the panel) that we're doing a making of book, Dark Horse is releasing... Debbie got mad at me...
DEBBIE: (sitting a table over looks up) I was mad at you.
ZACK SNYDER: I was like, "Oh, Jeez! I forgot to do that!" So, you guys have the exclusive now! (laughs)
QUINT: I hate to keep bringing SIN CITY into this, but I love that kind making of book, especially for films as high on the visual effects side of things as SIN CITY...
ZACK SNYDER: I like that book, too. When they came to me, they were like, "We want to put the script in the book." I go, "I don't want the script in there, because..."
QUINT: Then it'd just be the SIN CITY book.
ZACK SNYDER: Yeah. I was like, "You guys have enough material to fill a freakin' whole book." So they were like, "Maybe excerpts, not the whole script." Because I want more info. When you put the script in, half the book is just that.
So, anyway... Grant, he would build... he made these mini-books that we'd send to the vendors that'd explain how to make a rock, how to make blood, you know? They're like these little novels about our version... The blood itself, the blood... we even took some blood scanned off the front of the book, like that (he points to the 300 logo on the poster behind him, which is the same font and logo from Miller's book)... The shot where Eli punches the kid in the face? That's all 2-D blood. It's cooler to do 2-D blood than this wet, fake 3-D blood, so a lot of this is this cool 2-D weird, like moving through weird space. It's pretty cool. I'm pretty excited about that.
QUINT: I have to bring up WATCHMEN before they pull me away...
ZACK SNYDER: Ah, yeah. Of course.
QUINT: The one question more than any other that is on fan's minds is how the hell are you going to fit that entire story into one movie?
ZACK SNYDER: Hrmm...
QUINT: I know you probably don't want to go into much detail, but...
ZACK SNYDER: No, no, no, no, no... I don't mind talking about it. I love it. It's an awesome thing. It's a crazy and strange turn of events that it ends up on my desk with someone going, "Oh, you want to make this into a movie?" I'm like, "What? Are you kidding me?" Seems like a mistake, but also one that I'm not going to tell anyone about because, you know, I'm probably over-sensitive... maybe too much. You know, my experience with the material so far and the different drafts that had been written, including Alex (Tse)'s latest and the book itself... When I was introduced to it in-motion. I hadn't read the other drafts when it was in development.
Now, when we started they were like, "Hey, what do you think?" Boom, here's all the drafts in a big pile next to me.
Basically I got the book and the script and put them next together. For me, my copy of WATCHMEN is highlighted and things are written all over it. My first order of business, and it's a thing that I can't say anyone has got a handle on, except for me, is getting the ideas of the book into the screenplay. The (David) Hayter draft to some extent does and Alex's to some extent does, but I don't think anyone has cracked it.
The problem of WATCHMEN isn't the mystery of who is killing who, it's not the love story, it's not the betrayals or anything like that. I think the problem is that the screenwriters, and maybe rightly so... the mechanics is the first thing they worry about, you know? Of course, if you don't have the mechanics you can't hang story on it.
For me, the work of WATCHMEN is you take those stories and you figure out how you get at the essence of the book. The book is transcendent of the story. The philosophy of the book... that's what needs to get put back in the screenplays, in my opinion.
I'm waiting to see what Alex does next. I think beyond that my hope is to... now that we're finishing 300 hundred, my hope is to really set some good time aside to really roll up my sleeves and go, "Not only here's the ideas, here's the frames I love. This HAS to be in the movie..."
QUINT: Are you wanting to go for a more realistic, less stylized vision of the world?
ZACK SNYDER: No, I don't know that the filmmakers in the past who have been attached to this... I just don't know what their take on the actual frames were. I gotta believe that they kind of really... I mean, I don't know Paul (Greengrass). I like his movies, but he doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would take a graphic novel and film it, you know what I'm saying? It's going to be verite-ish. Whereas for me, my style is, like, graphic novel. I want to be able to get as much as the graphic novel in the movie as I can. I want the experience of watching the movie to be similar to the experience of reading the graphic novel, but also be its own thing.
I think Alan (Moore) has said himself that the object of a book is to be a book, to be read by the fire and curl up with on a Saturday night. The object of a movie is different.
QUINT: Sometimes they mix together, though.
ZACK SNYDER: Absolutely!
QUINT: With a movie like Sin City and hopefully 300, the fans don't want to see someone's alternate take on this material. They want to see moving versions of their beloved comics. They want to see Frank Miller's SIN CITY, Frank Miller's 300.
ZACK SNYDER: Absolutely, absolutely. But I think the trick is... What we've done with 300, the connective tissue that a movie needs... that's the thing. The connective tissue has to be in the spirit of what was drawn. That's how you make the experience continue.
There you have it, squirts. That's it. Short, I know, but hopefully you have an inkling of what this guy will do. If WATCHMEN looks half as cool and gorgeous and breath-taking as the footage of 300 I saw today, then we're in for a classic.