Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Zack Snyder prepares for "Watchmen"

Who watches the Watchmen?

Well, once the movie is released in 2008, every comic book fan on this planet who can afford to.

And probably lots of literary scribes who might want to compare the movie to the graphic novel.

And if Watchmen is going to be the blockbuster everything thinks it's going to be, a LOT of people are going to watch the Watchmen.

I personally can't wait to see Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' creations take to the big screen.

From Wizard Universe:

Weeks away from filming, the “300” director opens up on Dave Gibbons’ teaser poster, his private stash of storyboards and what Rorschach looks like

By Kiel Phegley

Posted August 21, 2007 9:00 AM

Prepare yourself. It is happening.

With a cast announced and a website live, the long-awaited big-screen adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen will be heading to multiplexess nationwide in March of 2009. And while that’s still quite a ways off, the production is about to go full speed ahead with director Zack Snyder (“300”) at the helm. Weeks before filming begins, Snyder took a moment to share his thoughts on the fan reaction to Dave Gibbons’ exclusive movie poster, his plans to keep the movie authentic and why he won’t even guess what Alan Moore thinks of all this.

WIZARD: How are things going? Are you guys in the last mad dash before production?

SNYDER: Yeah. The whole thing is a mad dash, and so it doesn't feel any different. But it's fun. I'm going out right now to scout locations and look at some other s---. Good times. It's crazy.

We got a hold of this poster in San Diego, and everyone's flipping out about it. When did you start chasing down Dave Gibbons about doing something for the movie?

SNYDER: I had talked to Dave before, because I sent him a copy of the script and he actually drew some panels for me of a part in the script that I wanted him to draw out for me. He drew it up in panel form the same as a graphic novel, which was pretty cool. No one has ever seen [those drawings], but they will one day. Then while I was talking to him I said, “Hey, man, I'd love for you to do some concept art.”

Well, actually, it started with my other buddy doing a painting—I have it—of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped a bomb on the Japanese. So I had him redraw that painting, that poster with Sally Jupiter [aka the first Silk Spectre, to be played by Carla Gugino (“Sin City”)]. It says “Ms. Jupiter” on it instead of “Enola Gay.” It's a painting of the B-29 flying towards you where you can see the nose art, and then behind it is the atomic bomb going off. So we started talking about that first, and I was just talking to him about it conceptually. I said, “I'd love to see that.” He goes, “Oh, that's cool. Maybe I'll draw that.” Then as we started talking more he said, “Maybe we should get a real painting or a drawing from the graphic novel, or one that feels like it is.” I said absolutely, and then we started kicking stuff around. Then we got the call from publicity who said, “Hey, we should do something for Comic-Con.” We said, “Wow. We've already sort of been talking about something.” We hadn't put any pen to paper or anything at that point, and so then I got on the phone with him and said, “What about the stuff we talked about?” He sent me a sketch, and I saw it and I said, “Wow. Awesome.” Then [John Higgins] colored it, and the rest of it is history. I think that the only tweak that I had is that I wanted “God is real, and he’s American” in the little bit of text at the top of it.

Looking at the poster, I see a photo of Richard Nixon hanging in the background there, which is like a note to the fans saying that the movie is going to be set exactly as the book is.

SNYDER: Yes, correct. That's correct.

Was that you or Dave?

SNYDER: Well, that was me. The Nixon picture—in the graphic novel it says, “Shaking hands with the vice president,” right? I switched it to Nixon because it's more iconographic. It's easier to read. So then [Gibbons][ was like, “Okay, cool. Let’s get Nixon in there.”

The Comic-Con crowd went crazy for the poster. Have you gotten a response from anyone else as this has been spread around?

SNYDER: I have actually. I've gotten a couple of calls. There's this guy who wrote The Physics of Superheroes, James [Kakalios]. He came by and visited us, and I gave him a poster. He was like, “Oh, my God! This is cooler than science! This is the coolest thing I've ever seen!” And a few guys who have been working on the movie—because we've been so deep in it—I've said, “Hey, did you get a poster?” It's funny, the thing that's cool is the response: If you're a fan, it's like a lost cover. That's what it feels like, and that's what we were going for.

The poster is up on the movie’s website, but there's no message board or comment section where people can leave a response. I'm sure that there'll be more back and forth later on when you guys are more geared up, right?

SNYDER: Yeah. That's coming. That'll be coming too. We're going to start to develop the website. It's one of those things where when the website gets too tricked out too early and then people are like, “Oh, they haven't updated this website in like a year.” The movie doesn't even come out until '09 so it's quite a ways off.

Are you storyboarding with the original panels?

SNYDER: Yeah. I kind of storyboard. I draw. For instance, if I'm at a scene where Rorschach and Dan [“Nite Owl” Dreiberg] go to Happy Harry's to interrogate people, I have the script there while I'm going, and then I have the graphic novel which is the scene as well, and I kind of squish the two together. I change the script a little bit if I like a piece of dialogue that's in the graphic novel. Most of the dialogue is in the graphic novel, but every now and then I'll say, “Oh, we left this out. I wonder why?”—maybe it's time [issues] or whatever—and I'll kind of whack it back in. Then I'll look at the compositions that are in the graphic novel and the details that are in the frame, and then with the art department I'll say, “It'd be cool if we have this kind of whiskey or this light thickness to add in the background,” or whatever that little thing is. All those kind of crazy obsessive details, I try to whack those in as much as I can. Then I try within the scene, from time to time at least, to say, “This is a frame that's very similar to the kind of frame that Dave laid out” with Rorschach smashing the glass in the guys hand and the glass flying and the guy screaming, and so I'll grab that angle. Then I just put it in my book and cut out the frame. I glue it in my book next to the frame. That's kind of how I do it. Then I go, “Next shot.” We keep going, and if there's a frame that coincides I'll grab it, and if not I just try and get it close.

As you're going forward with the film are you doing more set dressing and more practical things? I mean, I'm just thinking in terms of the largely CG image of Rorschach with the “300” trailer.

SNYDER: Oh, yeah, we're building a huge backlot up here in Vancouver. It's a New York City backlot, and we're shooting tons of the movie on this. Then plus we're shooting—we've built these huge sets like [Edward “Comedian”] Blake's apartment and Adrian [“Ozymandias” Veidt's] office, all of Moloch [the Mystic's] places and stuff like that. His staircase is being built. All of that stuff is sets. Watchmen Headquarters.

Has any of the cast suited up yet?

SNYDER: No. I haven't seen anyone in their costumes full blown yet, but I have seen a lot of tests, and it's slowly getting closer and closer. Like I'll see Jackie [Earle Haley, who plays Rorschach] with just a white mask on and a hat and that’s it, and I'm like, “Ahhh, so close!” So it's slowly coming together. It's like they keep adding one more piece here and one more piece there. I've seen the prosthetics on Nixon, which are looking awesome. We were doing a full prosthetic on him so he looks like Nixon.

What's it like for you to be able to have Dave as a sounding board, asking what he thinks of the script and some of the visual choices your making?

SNYDER: I think that it's awesome to have that, because in some ways it does give me benchmark that I can understand whether or not I'm off the mark. I pretty much figure that he'd go, “No. I wouldn't say that. It's not right.” And you know what? He did give me some notes on the script, and they were all awesome, and I took them all. So it's good.

I know you're going to be answering this question for the next six months to two years. I know Dave told Alan Moore he was going to be involved with the movie. As you move forward are you hoping that Alan will one day see it?

SNYDER: Yeah. That's what I said at Comic-Con too. I think my big thing is that we totally respect his wishes to not be involved in the movie, and I totally get that. I'm just going to try and not make any assumptions about how he feels about the movie because I think that's a danger and exactly what he doesn't want. I hope, like I say, that he does get a chance to see it one day. My thing is, and I think that this is an important part of it, that I'm not trying to replace the book. My hope is that more people will read the book because the movie comes out. Maybe it's like a giant ad for the book.

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