300 Brings History to Bloody Life

Jason Silverman Email 02.22.07

Is director Zack Snyder the next Bryan Singer? Will he become the new go-to guy for megabudget comic book adaptations?

Warner Bros. is so excited about 300, Snyder's adaptation of Frank Miller's Greek-history-as-superhero tale, that they handed him the keys to Alan Moore's Watchmen, another sacred text for comics fans. 300 opens nationally March 9; Watchmen is scheduled for a 2008 release.

Snyder, a commercial director whose debut feature Dawn of the Dead was a surprise hit in 2004, filmed the ultraviolent 300 on a Montreal sound stage. After recording real actors doing fake battle, he added heavily manipulated digital backdrops. Like Robert Rodriguez with Sin City, Snyder went to enormous lengths to precisely match Miller's eerie landscapes.


Click here for stills from the movie.

300 re-imagines the true story of a small band of Spartan soldiers led by King Leonidas (played by Gerard Butler). The Spartans held off an enormous army of Persians that was commanded by Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and bent on conquering Greece.

Snyder talked to Wired News on the eve of his departure for the Berlin Film Festival, where 300 celebrated its world premiere Feb. 14.

Wired News: This is one crazy-looking movie.

Zack Snyder: No one should ever take drugs, ever. I want to go on the record on that. But if someone was to slip you a mickey, I would immediately get into a taxi and go to an Imax screening of 300.

WN: Why did you decide to shoot this indoors?

Snyder: I wanted to get at the book as much as I could. Shooting outside, we couldn't control the skies and lighting to the extent I wanted to. And the landscapes are different than in real life. They don't exist in the real world, only in Frank Miller's imagination.

WN: Did you worry that filming on sound stages would make the action seem unreal?

Snyder: I didn't want the movie to feel like it was shot out of a computer. I wanted you to feel that it was made by humans. We shot the movie on film and added a lot of grain back into it. For the fight scenes, we added flares, dirt on the lenses -- none of which was there when we filmed it. Putting that stuff in spoke to the organic process of making a film, just as if we were standing out in a field. But in our case it was everyone standing in front of a blue screen.

WN: So there are dirt-on-the-lens plug-ins now? You can actually put the imperfections back into the process?

Snyder: That's the crazy part. We learned how to create a pristine image and now we are working to fuck it up again. Part of the technology now is used to make it look like you didn't use the technology.

WN: What was the biggest challenge in bringing the battle scenes to life?

Snyder: You'd think it would be the process, with the blue screen and everything. But really it was our schedule, a rigorous 60-day schedule. We were all playing hurt.

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