Zack Snyder’s 10 Golden Rules of Moviemaking

Zack Snyder began his career directing TV commercials for such car companies as Audi, BMW and Nissan. He launched into features with the gloriously gory remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. His ambitious follow-up, 300, an adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, had critics hailing him as a technical genius.

Since then Snyder has been busy directing features such as Alan Moore’s graphic novel, Watchmen, and the computer animated Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, while also writing and directing the female action flick Sucker Punch. His latest directorial effort, the highly anticipated Superman origin story, Man of Steel flies into theaters this coming Friday, June 14.

The last few Wisdom Wednesdays have revealed the intelligent, wise, and sometimes hilarious Golden Rules of directors Danny Boyle, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Jarmusch. This week MovieMaker brings you Zach Snyder’s 10 Golden Rules of Moviemaking from 2009.

zack snyder 1

1. There are No Rules.
Every job, every story, every shot is different. And each time you do it, it’s like doing it for the first time

2. The Will to Suffer.
This is a phrase I got from my friend Marc Twight. He used it in reference to mountain climbing, saying that the person who can endure the most pain will be the one who succeeds in the end. That applies to moviemaking as well.

3. Your Point of View.
It’s the thing that is not right, not wrong. It’s the thing that can’t be put into a technical box. It’s the tone and texture of a story. It’s the individual way of looking at things that makes us different. It’s why we go to the movies.

4. Storyboard.
Storyboards are not for everyone. As a matter of fact, I think some movies would be seriously damaged by the storyboarding process. But for me, it is how I make a movie; it is how I structure a scene. It’s not a shot list, it is an edited sequence. And although it can all change later, it is a good place to start.

5. Movies are Pictures.
For me, visual style has the same importance as story, as character and as the environment. In the end, a movie is a series of pictures and I try to be aware of that at all times.

6. Respect.
Respect the material, respect the process, respect the audience and, most of all, respect the countless incredible people who work their asses off helping you to bring your vision to the screen. Everyone has immeasurable value when it comes to making a movie, so never take it for granted.

7. Throw things.
Not at people, just for fun. On the set this means: Football, tennis ball, rock, ball of tape—basically any object, it doesn’t matter. Then throw: To a person, at an orange cone, into a distant trash can… again, doesn’t matter. At least for me, any version of throwing shit makes even the shortest break relaxing.

8. I Still Shoot Film.
I always shoot film, then move into the digital pipeline. I’ll be the first to admit that the future of moviemaking will be led by advances in digital technology. But the reality is there is just something about film that digital cameras still can’t replicate. Call me a purist, but it’s just how I feel.

9. Passion.
It is almost impossible to duplicate your original passion for a project late in the process. But if you can recall the feeling of that original spark of excitement, you’ll be able to keep your creative ferocity throughout the long haul.

10. Shoot Every Shot.
It goes back to what I was saying about point of view. This is not to say that a second unit director wouldn’t shoot it better, but doing it yourself keeps the tone consistent.

Don’t forget to visit us next week for Wisdom Wednesday!

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