"[Zack] Snyder was at ShoWest last year to accept his award as ShoWest Director of the Year, and this year, he was there to talk up one of his upcoming movies, the 3D animated adventure Legend of the Guardians, based on the books by Kathryn Lasky. Arriving in theaters in late September, it's an action-adventure about an owl named Soren trying to find the legendary winged warriors, the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, to help save his people from the evil Pure Ones, whom the Guardians defeated once before. Working with Australia's Animal Logic (Happy Feet) on the animation, Snyder has pulled together an amazing voice cast for his first animated movie including Emilie de Ravin, Ryan Kwanten, Jim Sturgess, Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, Sam Neill and Richard Roxburgh. It will be his first movie produced and projected in 3D.
ComingSoon.net: 'Legend of the Guardians is your fourth adaptation but it's been a little more under the radar than your previous movies.'
Zack Snyder: 'I'll say that the animation process has been really interesting for me in that I'm used to this process where you shoot the actors and that's the moment, you got them. And in this animation process, the movie is never done. You can tinker with it and mess with it deep into the process. It's liberating on one hand, but it's also a really different experience on the other, because you constantly are refining a moment over and over and over rather than a simple... I guess the point is that when you think about it as an adaptation--not to say that it's far away from the books--I feel like it does take on a life of its own. It's about the first three books is what we're doing.'
CS: 'With 300, you did have a lot of CG to deal with in post-production but for this one, you're actually making another movie while they're doing the animation so you're not able to be there physically all the time. How have you managed that?'
Snyder: 'I have an HD video conference I do with the guys every day, that's kind of my way I do it. My set-up looks like the Enterprise basically. I have an HD video monitor, I have a color correct monitor over, and I have a Wacom tablet that has the actual scenes we're working on where I can draw on the actual shots, and then I have two other computers that have the shots that we're going to talk about during the day.'
CS: 'I know you wanted to do something that your kids could see, but why this particular project bringing these books to the screen?'
Snyder: 'Grant Freckleton is the guy who works at Animal Logic and was the visual effects art director on 300 and really, it was that relationship, because he's the production designer on this movie. We had done a lot of fun stuff together on 300 and he really helped define the visual FX look of 300 with me. He and I got talking about the potential of this, and I saw some early paintings that they had done, and I said, 'Man, this is cool. This could be great.' Literally, it was that that seduced me more than anything, the potential of these... I was really into this idea that the movie took place at nights, but their moon is our sun, and those are the kinds of images. I'm easy to get excited when you start talking about pictures like that. 'Oh, okay, that can be awesome!' and the next thing I knew, we were deep in it and Soren was on his journey to find the Guardians.'
CS: 'Did you feel that this was more low-key where you don't have a lot of fans watching what you're doing under the microscope?'
Snyder: 'Yeah, 100%, and that way, I don't want to say it's more fun, but it's interesting to not have this huge pressure on the movie from a fan's standpoint. I think in a lot of ways, it makes the movie more enjoyable for fans in a general sense, because they're not having to scrutinize the movie, they allow the movie just to be whatever it is. I think that's interesting, and I've never had an experience like that. '
CS: 'It will also be interesting to see if the older guys who like Watchmen or 300 bring their kids to introduce them to your films.'
Snyder: 'Yeah, 'cause that's the whole thing. The movie is definitely my movie. It's definitely a kid-friendly PG movie and it's all about this super-archetypal journey of this young hero who finds... it's got a lot of an Arthurian vibe to it because you can think about the Guardians as the Knights of the Round Table, and he's like a young knight and he's going to find Camelot, only if you can imagine that in his world, he's not sure if Camelot is real.'
CS: 'Were you able to do the voicework for the movie in L.A. or Vancouver?'
Snyder: 'Oh, we did it all over the place. Some in L.A., I've been in Australia--I go to Australia like once a month--then I did a lot wherever the actors were. I'd Skype them, and we'd do it.'"