Weekender Interview | Zack Snyder
Category: 300 News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: February 15, 2007 | Publication: Tufts Daily: Weekender | Author: Kristin Gorman
The graphic novels of Frank Miller aren't Greek to '300' director Zack Snyder
In 2005, Robert Rodriguez's "Sin City" opened America's eyes to new creative possibilities of how to put a graphic novel on the big screen. Zack Snyder, director of the new film "300," has conquered a different Frank Miller work, transferring Miller's entrancing drawings to an innovative film about the epic struggle of the 300 Spartan soldiers. Best known for directing "Dawn of the Dead" (2004), Snyder's recent endeavor allowed him to enter into another realm of creative film. In a conference call, Snyder discussed the challenges of converting a comic book to film as well as his valued interactions with Miller.
Q: When "Sin City" was adapted, Frank Miller was really involved in the direction. How involved he was in the making of this film?
Zack Snyder: He was involved in different degrees than in "Sin City." He did have approval, and we met and he wanted to see if I was going to steal his book or not. We had long conversations about my philosophy for filming, but he was super-supportive in the sense that he said, "This is your movie and you're directing, but I am here for you; whatever you need, I'll help you out with it."
Q: What were the challenges in writing the screenplay? I saw you did that along with a few other people; how did you address those challenges?
ZS: The biggest challenge in writing the screenplay, and the reason I wanted to write it, is because I have so much respect for the graphic novel, but I wanted to make sure that it didn't turn into a movie. I know that sounds weird, but I mean it in the sense that I didn't want it to be Hollywood-ized, so I really wanted to use the dialogue and the scenes ... just the shooting style itself. It was all part of, in some ways, the act of writing.
Q: What actions did you take to faithfully resuscitate the intents of the story of the original graphic novel?
ZS: It's a colorful book. The awesome thing about what Frank and Lynn [Varley] did with the color is unique to Frank's world, as well as the graphic novel world, in the sense that it is a historical retelling of historical events which is different from the norm, what you see in normal comic book movies. The language that we chose to speak, to take Frank's frame and try and make them real, it did need color and lots of post-production, but in the end it was all done out of reference to what Frank and Lynn had created.
Q: How does it feel from going from "Dawn of the Dead" to "300," one of the most sophisticated action films of the year?
ZS: I'm knocking on a lot of wood right now, by the way, but the feeling is when I made 'Dawn' I just tried to make a film that looked cool, it was just a personal film; it wasn't my intention to make a film that did anything except sort of satisfy my sensibilities. It was my hope that people would enjoy that, I didn't want to second-guess anybody. And then, I tried to do the same with "300." If I was going to see something cool, it would look like this.
Q: Do you think people will draw parallels to current world events into the subject matter of the small army?
ZS: We didn't really think about it in the writing. It's been brought up to me recently, of course, and I understand that people are looking for kind of a metaphor that reflects the current political situation, but my intent was always to spark a viewpoint. I've been asked also, who is Bush in the movie? You know what, if you guys are asking me these questions then I can only hope that inspires debate and that in that way it is a vehicle for change or discussion at least.
Q: How do you think "300" compares to other historically based epics like "Troy"  or "Alexander" ? Do you think "300" is more authentic or simply just following Miller's vision?
ZS: I think the two you just referenced, I think in comparison to them you're talking, with "300," about a movie that reinvents that genre. Those movies have paved the way for me to get at it from a different angle. Certainly what I've done is inspired from what Frank did ... With the two of us combining our aesthetics I think that this genre will be sort of rocked by it.
Q: Were you ever intimidated of not just working with Frank, but the massive undertaking of making this piece?
ZS: I was probably more nervous and intimidated of working with Frank than by the massive project that was making the movie, and that's only because I respect his perspective so much and didn't want to disappoint him. I will say that when I finally did show him the movie, he really liked it and said to me that when he was younger and saw the original "[The] 300 Spartans"  that this was the movie he had seen.