Ten days prior to the official release date, a community of Art Center movie lovers attended a private screening, hosted by Warner Bros. and the College’s Film Departments, of the highly-anticipated summer blockbuster, Man of Steel. Nearly 500 students, faculty, staff and special invited guests crowded in to ArcLight Cinemas in Pasadena on June 5 to see the emotional and action-packed story unfold and hear from the director, film alumnus Zack Snyder.
So impressed was the studio of Snyder’s direction of the Superman reboot that on Monday Warner Bros. officially announced that it had sealed the deal with him to direct the sequel.
In a post-movie Q&A with Art Center Film Chair Ross LaManna, Snyder was extremely animated as he described his creative process, the casting of the film, what it was like working with the military, and, in a nod to Man of Steel’s Ma Kent, his own mother’s important influence on his career.
The director told the audience his mother was his superhero growing up. “She was an artist and not very traditional when it came to parenting,” Snyder said. She assumed he would miss school on the day Star Wars opened in theaters in 1977.
She also purchased the filmmaker’s first Super 8 camera and told him to stop talking about movies and go out and make one. Snyder said he brought that same camera with him to Art Center when he first arrived as a film student.
He shot footage for Man of Steel with the goal of making it look like it was shot by hand while perplexed members of the crew looked on.
“You’ve got to find the best way to work with everybody to get the best out of them,” he explained to the future filmmaking professionals in the audience.
“I believe 3D is a conspiracy to destroy film” he said to laughter and applause as he relayed a conversation he had earlier that day with a writer from Time magazine. Snyder shot the movie in 2D on 35mm film, and the 3D conversion was done in post-production.
Describing his career path, Snyder admitted it was rocky at times especially when he walked away from the chance to direct the Sony movie S.W.A.T. due to creative differences. He was told he’d “never work in this town again,” but a few weeks later he was hired to direct Dawn of the Dead, the modern retelling of George Romero’s 1978 horror classic.
When asked what he wanted audiences to take away from Man of Steel, he responded “I’ve always been a fan of Superman and wondered what if you knew why he made the decisions he did.” Snyder hopes the story informs “your personal Superman,” through the intimate moments he created between the huge special effects driven action scenes.
“The spandex suit looks like a used condom,” he explained when describing the original outfit worn by Christopher Reeve, which was used as a model by Man of Steel’s costumers. He said when Henry Cavill emerged from the dressing room wearing the exact replica created by the team, Snyder knew immediately he had found his Clark Kent. “Holy shit, he looks like Superman!” the director told the crew. “He had this weird confidence in the suit.”
On how he managed to secure talents such as Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe, Snyder credits our culture’s Superman mythology. “It’s our Shakespeare, [it’s] an American Illiad.”
Among the many special guests in attendance were:
Diana Ahn and Guy Friedman
Jason Burch and Chris Johnson
Wes Coleman (Art Center Trustee) and Barbara Coleman
Dean Cundey A.S.C.
Tim and Susan Delaney
James Giommi and Susan Thacker
Jeff Glassman (Art Center Trustee) and Cecilia Glassman
Gale Anne Hurd and Lolita DePalma
Terri and Jerry Kohl
Kevin and Martha Mack
Charles Nearburg (Art Center Trustee) and Karen Miller
Stu Pope and Gary Goodman
Roger Servick and Mike Lund
Clay Staub and Lu Ruiz
Alyce de Roulet Williamson (Art Center Trustee)
Dan Wolfe and John Ryan