This week in theaters, Zack Snyder the master of slow-motion special effects is back with Sucker Punch, another kick-ass action film for you to feast your eyes on. There’s no doubt that Sucker Punch once again sets a new bar for the genre in terms of style and look and that’s all thanks to the brilliantly imaginative mind of director.
“No matter what — however the movie comes out, or whether everyone in the world sees it 100 times or only one person sees it, really the journey to get there with these kinds of people, it’s amazing.” – Zack Snyder.
We had a chance to sit down to a small roundtable to speak with the director himself and talk to him about finally being able to take on a film that’s all his own. Speaking to him you realize that he’s very much the kind of filmmaker that is willing to take risks because he loves to process and enjoys doing something new and exciting, even at the risk of not being widely accepted.
Bringing your own ideas to the big screen is much different than recreating someone elses, it’s easier because it’s closer to your heart, but it’s harder because of the pressure. There’s not doubt he’s feeling the pressure right now, but one thing is for sure, he’s followed through on his Sucker Punch dream.
Find out what the journey was like for Snyder to make the film he’s been wanting to make for years and why he may be the only director this year to say that unless they do 3D right, it’s better not to do it at all. Find out more below…
Is it nice to know that literally, your entire team, all that they say is you use the word “awesome”, you’re very fun on set, and you have more energy than anybody else?
Zack Snyder: And those are all good things, apparently?
I would hope so.
ZS: I’ve got the best job in the world, there’s no two ways about it. It’s ridiculous that they let us do this. So for me, it’s everyday I wake up and I’m like, “This is awesome.” It’s hard to be in – I would say that if you have this job and you’re grumpy, then what are you going to do? What are you going to do to be happy? ‘Cause I don’t know. You better start taking drugs or something because it’s just not going to work out for you, in the happiness area. Maybe that’s not a priority so that’s fine.
I heard that this whole project has been in development for years, and I heard is was originally off of a short story?
ZS: Yes, all correct, so far. Awesome.
Can you talk about finally lifting this off the ground?
ZS: Yeah. It’s been really fun to visualize the film and get it to be real. That’s the whole struggle that [Deborah Snyder] and I sort of, it’s – I said it was fun and I meant that, but it also does have its challenges. I think for Debbie and I the challenges –you create this idea and you sell it to the studio and maybe they say, “Okay, that sounds cool, let’s make that!” In some ways the hardest part is when they say, “Yeah you should make that and be sure it’s cool and awesome and fun and all the things and on budget.” It is quite undertaking. It’s like waging a small artistic war of some kind.
I like to think that in the end, when you do arrive on set and everyone is there, and these amazing actors and Debbie’s there and everyone is like martial all their abilities to get you there and say, “Okay, make it cool.” For me, it’s incredibly rewarding, it’s an amazing honor that these people care to help me. I guess, the struggle, whether it’s a struggle or not — or whether it’s just what it is — it’s always worth it though in the end. No
matter what — however the movie comes out, or whether everyone in the world sees it 100 times or only one person sees it, really the journey to get there with these kinds of people, it’s amazing.
Could you talk a bit more about the fantasy/action sequences? At times it felt like you were playing an actual video game not watching a movie…
ZS: I guess, for me, the sort of mass media aspect of the movie whether it be an inditement or in-praise of, that’s up to you to decide whether I’m criticizing or praising the media from which you draw that reference. Whether you watch it and say, “that reminds me of this thing,” I wonder if that’s good or bad and I think that’s all part of the way we made the movie. But yeah, I’m a gamer. I play video games. In someways, this movie — it’s weird, I feel like the movie is, it’s, the action sequence, in their structure, are similar to a video game. I would say the video game structure is a structure that was borrowed from Joseph Campbell or from some sort of classic heroes Boone’s story, like, “Go collect the talisman and then come back and then you show Mary the Queen.” That’s like — it couldn’t be more classic.
Anytime you’re dealing with a point system or a graduation system, it’s like college in some ways too, the video game structure, like “Past these tests and you will get a degree in Zombie killing or whatever the thing is.” The point is that yes that exists within the film and it’s conscious but it also, in addition to the video game sort of layer of the movie, there’s like a gillion other similar media and/or mythological elements that are layered on top of it. Does that make sense?
I was just talking about the music too and the idea of taking songs we know and then re-imagining them. When using such famous songs, the audience automatically connects to them in one way or another and has a feeling about them — but then you twist that up. Why use songs we know? Were you trying to tap into certain pre-disposed emotions?
ZS: I think that that for me was — I’ve always felt that music had a real knack and powerful ability to conjure images and it always meaning. I also think that music, when you lay music on top of a picture, suddenly the picture, its meaning can change through the images that are placed — the songs that are placed on top of it. And so that evolution of, for me, knowing that the pictures I wanted to create, whether it’s WW1 or whatever, and say like, “White rabbit, like psychedelic white rabbit, that’s correct for WW1,” for me that’s right. Because it’s just like, you’re already on a trip at this point and like, what the fuck is this and the white rabbit, to me, is a song about that. In some way, the actual idea gets deeper, the whole — all the iconology and all the world gets bigger when you lay the right music on top of it.
It’s a great soundtrack…
ZS: I was always mad that they didn’t do like soundtrack for Dawn of the Dead because that’s probably the best music of any movie I’ve ever made.
You’re always on the cutting edge of technology, how does this film push the boundaries yet again? What tricks did you use?
ZS: We’re at this point of making movies where — and I don’t know if it’s going to happen anytime soon, and that’s what were getting kind of good at right now is being able to really have the actors work within a virtual environment but not get too fast and loose with the real actors, so that — cause we are at a point where digital doubles are like a real option and I think, we use them a lot but we use them really trickily and carefully, in the movie.
For instance there’s a sequence where Ann is being fighting the giant Samurai and she’ getting knocked around the beginning and she gets knocked
out like 30 feet away, and then rolls and gets back up and then gets knocked another 30 feet… and it’s clearly not digital, but like all the links, every time that we would use her for real, we’d pull her out and get her dressed up just so her face is out of frame, and then there would be a digital take over and then she could fly. We were sure to use her for real in the structure of the scene.
To make the scene make sense and be real, you had to use the real actor. You had to learn the fight. You couldn’t use a double. You couldn’t use a digital double when it was actually going to be on the. That was the trick that to me is like a real — it’s like a lesson in technology. You can have people tell you, “Oh no we’re at this point you can just make a CG person and no one will ever know.” That’s just not true in the sense that if you want to link the person to it’s moment you got to get him in there for real.
Along those lines, there’s been a lot going on in the past couple of weeks regarding 3D and the box office failure of Mars Needs Moms, was there a lot of pressure from the studio to go 3D?
ZS: They understood that when I said I was afraid what it would be, they were like, “Okay if you’re afraid, then we’re afraid too.” I think part of it was we were working on Guardians at the time and I was doing 3D on that movie, it’s a CG 3D animated movie, so I was like, “we were in a real 3D movie, as good as you can do it.” And so I was like, when I was seeing my 3D shots coming for Guardians, I was thinking, “man we’re never going to get shots this cool for Sucker Punch, we’re going to like be hating ourselves.” Especially now that we’re exposed to this process and how to do it, and how to do it kind of right. So I think that was part of it too.
Check out Snyder’s film in theaters March 25th!