Director Zack Snyder discusses his distinctive style

With Sucker Punch hitting cinemas this Friday, SFX reveals the secret to Zack Snyder’s famous hyper-real direction

We love the movies of Zack Snyder, particularly his distinctive, highly stylised visuals. At last year’s Comic-Con he spoke about why he makes films this way, what he loves about movies and what he thinks about the fantasy elements of Sucker Punch .

Described as ” Alice In Wonderland with machine guns”, Sucker Punch tells the story of Baby Doll and friends as they try to escape from an asylum using the power of imagination. It’s out tomorrow, so we thought we’d share the filmmaker’s fascinating comments. (Warning: contains a little bit of swearing towards the end!)

On the look and feel of Sucker Punch :

“Because I don’t know how to do it, Sucker Punch was never going to be like some hand-held reality movie. Even in the most realistic part of our film it was always going to be highly stylised. We shot nothing outside; we shot nothing off the sound stage. I wanted it to always feel like you were under a certain spell. But those spells change as you went through the film.”

On why he never wants to shoot reportage-style or gritty, “realistic” films:

“I have an interest in and a love of movies that are self-aware . For me you have to be sucked into a movie, you have to feel like it’s happening. But, like with animated movies, the rules that are set up from the start are completely different from your own reality. So by the end it truly is immersive. We’re not trying to fake the audience into thinking this is real or that it’s a film about something that occurred in history. If you see a war film and it’s hand-held or newsreel footage, it creates the illusion of ‘reality’. But that’s a way of making movies that I myself couldn’t do. Because this is obviously a movie , right?! I like movies that are constantly reminding you that they’re movies, while immersing you deeper into the story.”

On the illusory power of film as a storytelling medium:

“I want to feel like in every shot of the movie there’s irony. Because it’s not real! The pictures aren’t even moving in reality, even that part is fake! It’s an illusion created by the flickering screen. Nothing is really happening to you. There are no moving objects, it’s a fake. And that’s exciting! That never leaves my mind, I’m always conscious that every part of the experience is an illusion.”

“And it’s fun for me to play with the icons and the visual language of movies. The further away from reality you can start, maybe it’s harder (you can’t cheat – people can see it’s fucking fake) and it takes them a little while to get into it, but if the style is deep enough you can jump ahead. The world can become so immersive that the audience then can’t find the holes that they can find in other films. If you filming something like a hand-held documentary then you stop and have one weird little scene that feels like a film… you’re out of it all of a sudden, the audience is like ‘fuck, this is a fake! Is it a documentary or a movie?’ But the way I make films the style is part of the illusion too. The style is true to itself, it creates its own world. Once you’re in it you don’t have to worry about reality poking its nose into the world.”

Sucker Punch is released by Warner on 1 April 2011.

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