Zack Snyder on keeping '300' sharp

Category: 300 News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: September 19, 2006 | Publication: Comics2Film | Author: Chris Brown
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Zach Snyder's adaptation of 300 is starting to look as exciting as our early glimpses of Sin City. Many questioned whether or not the man who made Zombies fast could actually pull this off, but Frank Miller had faith as he explained in our earlier interview with the 300 creator, and now Zach Snyder, himself sits down to talk.

Zach is an extremely energetic guy, and extremely excited to talk 300.

Q: Mark [Canton] was saying that because everyone was professionals there was never any worry, but was there a time while you're filming these guys running around in front of the big screens that you said to yourself, 'I really hope that this is going to turn out as cool as I think'?

ZS: No, No is it are you worried, you're worried, I think you're worried before that. You're worried when you're sitting around saying, 'this is how we're gonna do it, it's gonna be like this' and everyone says, 'Are ya sure?' and I'm like, 'Uh, yeah, it's gonna be awesome.' So, that's I think that's, well once the ball gets rolling and everyone is in a loin cloth in front of a blue screen you're like, 'Okay, I guess that's great.' And the cool thing is that we would knock up a frame from the dailies, put it in a computer and knock it up and actually see what it looked like, so that helped everybody and I put it up on the wall and they'd go, 'Holy shit that is cool, I guess we're not idiots.'

Q: What did you add on to the graphic novel, Frank [Miller] mentioned just a little bit

ZS: The only thing that's different from the graphic novel, we did like, a Gorgoth Eli, or Gorgo she's in one spot in the graphic novel, that's the Lena Hedi character. She stays in Sparta and tries to rally the troops to, you know, go in support of the King to Thermopylae. It's not a huge part of the movie, but it does, you know give you a little some, I don't know what, possibly sensitive thing. She ends up being pretty hard. Everyone's hard.

Q: What is the line between shooting everything live in the camera and then having to shoot partial stuff and knowing you're going to have to create it again later on?

ZS: You mean as far as just some of the sets? It was weird because I felt like what ended up happening was we shot Sparta first, we shot the movie pretty much in order and we shot the last shot on the last day, is the shot of all of all of them dead, which you've never seen, which we, now you know we shot it like that, it's in the book for God's sake. That was the last shot we did so when we were in Sparta, thank God, the first part of the movie there was some sets, so I think everyone got up to speed on some, it was sort of like training wheels, Okay we're going to start marching now and boom rip those off, okay blue screen. We had ground, we always had ground to work with. So they could always, I think that helped a lot. If it had been green ground I think they would have killed me first, and then killed the rest of themselves.

Q: Why do you think comic book adaptations attract so much attention?

ZS: I think partly because, well, first of all there's a passion that surrounds them. People, and I think especially now with what I would say, like, sort of modern era graphic novels, you can be 40 and read a graphic novel and people don't think something's wrong with you, or have read it and never stopped, you know. And my feeling is now you have these adultish people, like me, who are like, 'That's my shit. Don't fuck with that. That's my stuff.' I don't have that same feeling about Vanity Fair. Maybe I should. But, I think that, and so, also because it's a visual medium, too. When people try to make a graphic novel into a movie, it's a picture, right? So, you're rendering, like, I always say, basically, the crutch of the movie, if there was a problem with production design or with the actors, or whatever it was, I would go, 'How did Frank solve it? You know, he solved it like this.' There's picture evidence in the freakin' book to tell you. I think Hollywood has ignored that for a long time. They don't go to the source and go, like, this problem's been solved already, why do you want to make another problem for yourself when you don't need to? I think that's part of it and I also think, you know, that graphic novels now are a legitimate literary medium, if you will. Because of that, you know, there's a force that goes with that, a respect that goes with that, and I think that also has now really sort of gelled because I think that what's happened in the past is that Hollywood has taken a movie and gone, 'You know what, let's fix this' and turned it invisible, 'That's cute, you did a comic book, that's nice. Here, watch this' Yeah, like this is better. The problem with that, and I think that's the trend for me anyway is to say, 'Why not film it?' What was wrong with it before, was it too scary, was it too hardcore, was it too beautiful" Are these problems. Because what you don't want to do and I hope we didn't do it, is inevitably what happens to a graphic novel when it gets turned into a movie is it gets sanded. All of the edges get sanded off of it so that it's a nice round shape that you can throw at the public and not hurt 'em too bad with it. What we did with Frank's was make the pointed edges pointier. We made it hard.

Q: It's R rated?

ZS: Absolutely.

Q: You talk about the luxury of, if there was a problem with production design or an actor problem, you could go to Frank's novel, but that was just a novel, you're making a cinematic art, there are different requirements and needs. How much of a problem was that?

ZS: It was cool because basically what I did was I drew the storyboards and I basically would take a Frank drawing, photocopy it and put in my book and then I would go, 'Okay, I've got to get in and out of this drawing, the story goes through this drawing.' So that was a cool process because it was a Frank frame so it was kind of a crazy thing to be doing anyway, but it was fun because I could go okay they go like this and like this and then turn and there's the Frank frame, and then they continue walking and then I draw the rest of the prints over there. So, you know, that part and I'm sure one day they'll get published somewhere, or someone will see them somewhere out of my bag, especially at the end of the book where Frank has Leonidas surrendering to Xerxes, I would do photocopies and blow them up and then draw the rest and put them in the right format. It's true with all of these shots. If you were to flip through the book, we shot them all. But, that process of going how do you make the moment to moment part of the story work, this is the template. You look at the moments in the book and they're second to second and that's what I used to form the rest of the movie.

Q: There seems to be a trend now with these adaptations to take it right out of the book. It seems like that trend started with Sin City, another Frank Miller property, do you feel that put a little more pressure on you guys or did it open the door to experiment

ZS: It opened the door. I thought it opened the door and you can ask Gianni [Nunnari} when he gets in here, what year we talked about doing this, it was frickin' a long time ago, It was before Dawn, before Dawn of the Dead I was working on this, but we couldn't get it done, you know, and they were like, okay. Because at first, I was saying why do we need to write a script, the script's done, it's right there. And they were like, 'No, what are you talking, that's crazy, that's not how you do it.' So I thought, I guess we could just transcribe that, would that make everyone happy, would you like me to take the pictures away? I don't get that. Anyway, so that's kind of, when I left for Dawn, and they just said, 'I don't know if we can do it.' But what happens when I get back from Dawn, they're like, 'We still couldn't do it but no one has done it.' So that's why we kept going with it. In the meantime Sin City got made, so I said awesome they did it, they didn't have a script.