This past weekend from March 22-24th, Zack Snyder hosted a Director’s cut charity event at his Alma mater, The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. During the event, Zack brought special guests along with broadcasting his cuts of the following films: Dawn of the Dead (2004), Watchmen (2009), and Batman v Superman (2016). Along with being able to watch the films with Zack, fans were treated to dinner, drinks and a Q&A session for each night. If that wasn’t enough, Zack so graciously stuck around to interact with fans, which included casual conversation, picture-taking, signing memorabilia/posters, and occasional heart-to-hearts. To say that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity feels like an enormous understatement. Not only that, how often do directors actually do this? That’s the kind of person Zack Snyder is. He’s a ball of energy, oozing with passion and dedication to his work and his fans. And that’s exactly why we love him so.
So, forget the click-bait articles (looking at you, Collider) that have been published this week from outlets who didn’t even attend the event. I am here to share the truth from the weekend. And I can do that because I attended all three nights from beginning to end, and I was able to talk to Zack Snyder, himself and hear things most of these bloggers are lying about for clicks. So, here’s a recap of “Snyder-Con,” along with my experiences meeting the crew and other fans.
Night 1: Dawn of the Dead
Night 1 of Z’s director’s cuts event was reserved for Dawn of the Dead (2004). Excited doesn’t even begin to describe my emotion during that night. I arrived at the venue about 35 minutes in advance to an excited crowd of 15-20 people ahead of me. Quickly and surely, many more began to fill the line behind me. We were let in within 25 minutes. With my nerves high and my expectations skyrocketed, I found the perfect seat in the third row, center. After stepping out of the auditorium to gather water and snacks, I came back, and THERE HE WAS: ZACK SNYDER sitting on stage casually talking to fans. Then, the unthinkable happened… I (somehow) mustered up enough courage to utter a simple “Hey Zack.” Then, he says hi back and some popcorn thievery takes place 😀 This was going to be a great weekend.
After watching the film, we were treated to burgers, fries and drinks. The specialty drink of the night was “Wine of the Dead.” How awesome! I ate relatively quickly because I wanted to walk around and just take everything in, which led me to one of the best experiences ever. I walked up the stairs after grabbing a beer from the outside bar to escape the chilly wind, headed back to the auditorium to begin the Q&A, and there he was again! This time, he had a drink in his hand (seeming incredibly relaxed), and he was engaging in conversations with fans. So, I stopped and waited to speak with him.
Let me tell you something about Zack Snyder. If you’re one of the ones who constantly sits online and calls him an asshole just because he didn’t make a movie you like, you couldn’t be any more wrong. The guy is an absolute angel. Someone was pouring his heart out to Zack, with tears in his eyes and his body shaking from head to toe. Zack listened to every single word and comforted him for the entire conversation. What was said during that conversation is none of anyone’s business (but theirs), so I won’t share the content of their conversation, but walking away from that situation, you should know one thing: Zack Snyder means so much to a lot of people.
I finally got my turn to speak to him after my friend Sydney introduced me. “Hey Brittany! Wow you’re so tall,” he said… I HATE WHEN PEOPLE SAY THAT… because it’s like ‘well yeah… I know.’ But coming from Zack Snyder, it felt magical and like I heard it for the first time, so I didn’t care one bit. After a 5-10 minute conversation discussing things like my height, his passion projects and what he means to me, we take pictures. How awesome is he? There was rare security, and he casually talked to fans all night, delaying the Q&A session so that people can get their chance. I can’t thank him enough.
The Q&A session included a panel with Dylan Clark (producer), Zack Snyder, Frank Montaño (sound mixer), and Jake Weber (actor). Here are some highlights:
People LOVE working with Zack Snyder. During the Q&A, the panel shared their times on set and behind the scenes, and it’s evident that it must be one of the most amazing experiences to work with him. Dylan Clark explained how it was easy to use first feature director Zack Snyder: “Once we got to Zack, it was easy… We went through a bunch of other directors, I think, that had made other movies not well… He [Zack] had just this incredible enthusiasm. He wasn’t the most articulate person that I had met. In fact, I don’t think he finished a sentence back in those days. But he would start the sentence, and do pretty well for half of it, then get up and act it out…It was good.” “I think based on the early conversations we had and during the vetting, once we saw that, that visionary word was used because of those early meetings.” See the video below to check out more comments from the panel:
Zack also joked about how he received death threats from zombie fanatics, which, by the way, STOP threatening creators for being creative! But that’s just one of the many jokes he cracked throughout the night. He’s genuinely hilarious, and now, I’m begging him to write and direct a comedy. I couldn’t wait for the next day.
Night 2: Watchmen
I woke up at 6am on Saturday, March 23rd. It was the night I would watch my favorite comic book movie with my favorite CBM director. So, I wasn’t wasting time on silly sleep; I had to mentally prepare. Fast forward to the evening, this time, we showed up 1 hour in advance and scored 2nd-row seats. I was already crying. Then, Zack comes out, introduces the film, and the magic that is the director’s cut of Watchmen (2009) won me over yet again, even after having watched it for the 30th(+) time. (My sincerest apologies to the people that sat next to, in front of and behind me for my squealing and sobbing throughout the film.)
The dinner was beef, tofu and chicken shish kabobs, and the drink of the night was “Silk Spectre’s Sangria.” Just Perfect. I ate very quickly and returned to the auditorium as fast as possible because seats filled up within minutes. The panel included Zack Snyder, Jackie Earle Haley (actor, Rorschach), Larry Fong (DoP), Bill Hoy (editor), and Debbie Snyder (producer), all of whom were greeted with standing ovations. How could we not after having witnessed the perfection that was Watchmen? If you missed the live streaming, visit the VERO broadcast. Here are some highlights:
Zack was on fire Night 2. The jokes were flying, there were hints at his frustration with studio interference, and he wasn’t afraid to drop necessary F bombs. To be honest, it was fantastic seeing him like this. Happiness and fun looks great on him. One of my favorite moments, though, was Debbie’s advice for young women filmmakers. “I think that as many people that say no, you just keep saying yes. And know that you can. I have a passion project – Zack and mine- it’s been 10 years, and we’re still trying to get it made… It’s always difficult even if you have success. I was a girl who grew up in New Jersey…” (SAME, DEB!!!) “…In my mind, I thought I would never make it. California seemed so far away, and I didn’t know anyone.” (RELATABLE, DEB!) “If you do your best, people will take notice… Just keep persevering.”
Then, the great Larry Fong got a chance to speak about his work on Watchmen and how he was able to transfer the magic from page to screen. “Actually, I just went through the graphic novel, and I just copied every picture,” he joked. “But it’s nothing like the graphic novel… With Zack, the priority was to make it look cool, whereas with other directors, they just want to go faster.” No wonder this dynamic duo’s (Zack and Larry) work is as iconic as it is!!!
And then, probably the greatest thing mentioned during the night was when Zack responds to the backlash and dream world in which certain fans of these characters are living. “People talk about whatever I’ve done with Superman or Batman… people have criticized me for a lot of different aspects for the way I’ve interpreted the characters. But if you’ve seen that film [Watchmen]… it’s pretty obvious why. It’s very difficult to go backwards. This movie is the end of innocence of superheroes. So when people say to me ‘oh Batman killed a guy,’ I’m like Wake the f*ck up. Once you’ve lost your virginity to this movie then come and say ‘my superhero wouldn’t do this,’ I’m like are you serious?… It’s a cool point of view to be like, ‘My heroes are still innocent. My heroes didn’t f*cking lie to America. My heroes didn’t embezzle money from their corporations. My heroes didn’t f*cking commit any atrocities.’ That’s cool, but you’re living in a f*cking dream world.” So, you see, he wasn’t being “mean” or an asshole to people that do not like his movies. He’s simply a fan who wants to reflect the reality of how these heroes would actually be in the real world at their most broken. And he never said that Batman killing was RIGHT. The entire point of BvS was to highlight how Bruce had fallen from heroism and became this symbol that was in the wrong. In fact, he’s perfectly fine with and even enjoys different types of storytelling. “I love comic book movies. I go and see all of the avengers movies… and I go, and I enjoy them, and I love it. You don’t have to go and not enjoy them. But you have to be open to other things.”
Iconic. If this was any indication to what would come during Night 3, I was ready for the storm… After the Q&A, the panel guests stuck around again to meet and talk with fans. I didn’t want to be greedy, but how could I not talk to Zack again? Prior to doing so, I return to the theater and see Larry Fong, and my heart just warms. He is such an incredible talent and humble soul. In fact, he told us that he was shocked at the reception he received when he came out for the panel. “I’m not a superstar,” he said, “so it was shocking.” Oh, but you are Larry, and we love your work! Then, there was my meeting with Debbie. I was shaking as I told her that I was a Jersey girl as well, and she gave me the warmest smile. Cloud 9 can’t possibly describe how high I was!!!
I had gotten my second picture with Zack, so it was time to leave. But first, selfies! My friends and I were eager to capture the excitement from the night, so we left the auditorium and stood in front of the beautifully designed Art Center College of Design/Vero backdrop. Then suddenly, here comes Zack to photo-bomb us! The guy can make an entrance. We didn’t capture that specific moment, but we weren’t going to let him get away without sneaking one more picture.
Night 3: Batman v Superman
I knew from the first event that Night 3 was going to be special. As a result, I showed up 2 hours earlier, and there were already 30+ people lined up and ready to go. With the sun beaming down on us, ushering in the physical warmth I had already felt when I met Zack Snyder for the first time, I couldn’t help but to be enthusiastic. Before we knew it, the lined wrapped around the corner in no time, and we were let in the venue 15 minutes prior to the screening.
I don’t know if it’s the fact that I was watching BvS in a room full of equally enthusiastic fans, knowing I was watching it with the director, DoP and producer IN THE SAME ROOM, the bottomless mimosas I consumed 2 hours before, or simply because I love it so much, but I cried during just about every scene while watching Batman v Superman. There’s something so iconic about the film that is incredibly difficult to explain. Whether it’s the terrifying and piercing Roof scene where Lex gets the best of Superman, Batman’s insanely choreographed and perfectly executed Warehouse invasion, the heartwarming moments between Clark and Martha, or the iconic dialogue and unforgettable score, Batman v Superman hits me in a way that no other comic book film does.
After the screening, I couldn’t even eat. That sounds incredibly dramatic even as I typed it, but I can only be honest. So, I didn’t even go to grab a delicious taco or go to the bar to catch the drink of the night, “Liquid Kryptonite.” I stayed in the auditorium and patiently waited for the Q&A, but time flew by before I knew it. There were 7 chairs (+1 for the moderator), and just like that, I knew the night would be exceptional.
Let’s cut to the chase here, because if you’re still reading this, you’re most likely looking for an organized recap of Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League; so I’ll get to it. Before I begin, let’s get something straight. ZACK SNYDER’S CUT EXISTS. Stop whining about it on the internet and calling fans liars because they’re passionate about it. Zack Snyder, himself, said it’s completely finished (with minor CG tweaks) to multiple people that night, and I’ve heard it myself. “It’s up to them,” he said, meaning it is up to WB to actually release it (due to legalities). But an important note to mention is that this Snyder cut was not the original plan. Chris Terrio and Zack Snyder had written Justice League (part I) before BvS was even released in theaters. But due to the backlash of BvS, however, this frightened everyone involved, and they had to do major rewrites. The script (of the rewrites) is what was shot; it is the true “Snyder Cut.” But we all know what happened to that movie. So once again, these outlets, bloggers and reporters are incorrect, and they’re just writing click bait to stir up the fan-base, add fuel to the fire and give the “haters” lies to spread.
In regards to the original script, WB was scared out of their minds to release something like that in theaters… “I guess it IS crazy… we’re f*cking nuts. There’s going to be mass hysteria in the streets if we film this apparently,” Zack joked. “WHAT KIND OF CRAZY,” shouted a fan, and this, ladies and gentleman would be the question to lead to answers that would electrify the crowd in a way that I’ve never seen.
Long story short, the Knightmare sequence from Batman v Superman would be the bridge to tie the storylines together. Darkseid has taken over Earth because Superman has succumbed to the Anti-Life Equation, a concept in DC Comics that proves hope, love, and freedom are all meaningless and something that effectively destroys a person’s free will. How and why might you ask? Well, it turns out that while Lois was in the Batcave, under Bruce’s protection, Darkseid boomtubes in and kills her, jump-starting the true nightmare and explaining why Superman said “She was my world, and you took her from me.” To get things back to normal and escape Darkseid’s reign, Bruce recalls the Flash coming to him and saying that “Lois is the key.” Zack then goes on to explain that Bruce & Cyborg concoct a plan to time-jump at the perfect moment. “Which of these two windows do you think we should use,” Bruce would’ve asked. “This one,” Zack explains as Cyborg. Then Bruce would reply “Use the other one because that one you already did, and Barry Allen was in my freaking batcave yelling at me about nonsense…” They had to perfectly time saving Lois’ life to prevent Superman’s change.
So, one could imagine why WB didn’t go with this script, especially after fans ‘cried’ online for months (and years) about Batman’s no killing code. (Seriously, do you guys even know Batman’s history or watched other Batman films?) Even so, that’s besides the point. What a missed opportunity. And perhaps the most frustrating part of all is knowing that this wasn’t even going to be the entire movie. People would’ve gotten “their Superman” and their heroes for a lot of this film. It would’ve been the true dawn of our heroes. But unfortunately, patience is a virtue that is lost among the masses.
This was one of the greatest weekends I’ve had in a long time, but something that frustrated me most was coming online and seeing people twist Zack Snyder’s words when they could’ve easily gone back to the VERO broadcast and NOT misquoted him. What saddens me even more is that Zack knew this would happen and mentioned it during one of the panels. And some bloggers couldn’t even wait a day to do so. But it’s exactly why I wrote this article – to set the record straight.
One of my absolute favorite things to come from this weekend besides witnessing fellow fans getting to meet Z is Zack finally standing up for himself. There’s only so much a person can take. And after people have called this man crazy, stupid and other vitriolic names that I won’t dare rewrite, blamed his daughter’s suicide on him, and accused him of hating women, he has never responded or defended himself. But the one time he stands up for himself in some capacity, he’s an asshole?
Get. A. Life.
I’m talking to you people who sit on the internet waiting for the opportunity to yank Zack Snyder’s name out of your ass when the conversation has absolutely nothing to do with him. I’m talking about you people who have a fetish of hijacking a fan’s positive comment towards him with the intent to rupture the fan-base then claim victimhood when they defend his honor. I’m talking about you awful people who claim that Snyder’s fan-base is full of stupid, white MAGA-hat wearing Nazi men… WELL LOOK AT WHO WROTE THIS ARTICLE. I hit the trifecta. I’m a smart, African American WOMAN, and you will definitely never see me sporting a MAGA hat. And you know what? I am certainly not the only one. In the word’s of Zack Snyder: “WAKE THE F*CK UP”. You grown man (and women)-babies who feel the need to be negative towards the one man who simply made films you didn’t like:
Grow. Up. and MOVE. ON.
I know some people will be quick to say that the same could be said for Snyder’s fans. Questions like “Why do his fans always respond,” for example, is a valid question. But to see Zack constantly under verbal and abusive attack – someone some of these fans look up to with complete passion – someone many credit to literally saving their lives for bringing these characters to life in the way he did – it’s exhausting and unnecessary. They’re tired… just like you were of his movies. And to the people who are pressed and constantly ask and say “Why are the fans still talking about a movie that is 3 years old? I can’t imagine why they’d want to talk about it all the time.” These questions can’t make me roll my eyes fast enough, but here’s my answer:
MIND. YOUR. BUSINESS.
It’s not necessary for you to understand why we love Zack Snyder so much or how he’s touched our lives in profound ways. It’s not imperative to know how Zack’s been a key factor in many people finding comfort in discussing his movies or that watching his films calms their anxiety. Do you guys ever think before making these comments? If you see someone praising the same film everyday and it bothers you that much, perhaps you need to seek help. Just KEEP SCROLLING, or block and move on. It’s that simple, folks!
To say that Zack Snyder doesn’t know or love these characters, which is a statement that has gotten a surplus of attention this weekend, is an extremely unfair assessment. Just because Zack used and/or was inspired by “non-canon” or rare stories to incorporate into his storytelling doesn’t mean he doesn’t know the characters. And even if he did completely change the characters… SO WHAT? They have been changed over the years, but no creator has gotten the amount of attacks that Zack Snyder has suffered. These characters are not your property. You do not own them. Creators and artists are allowed to do and make their stories how ever they please, and just because you do not like it does not mean said person doesn’t know, respect or love the character. How will these characters ever grow if you’re constantly begging for stories of the past? In short, they won’t because of people crying about Henry Cavill not being their Superman because he didn’t save people (Oof, did you even watch the films?) or because he was “brooding” (Yikes, do you even know what that word means?), or Batman not killing (which… LOL), or the same tired complaints that you so willingly offer up to fans when no one asked for them? How exhausting.
So to end this recap, I’d just like to say that most of you are wrong about Zack Snyder. He’s a visionary who loves DC Comics characters and the kindest soul on the planet for creating such an epic event for charity on his birthday. Whether he uses bold storytelling to ground them in reality or challenges the way audiences perceive heroism in these flawed characters, his genius isn’t appreciated enough. And it’s the exact kind of forward thinking and innovative storytelling that is needed in this industry whether you like it or not.