For years, Zack Snyder worked with cinematographer Larry Fong, and together, they often bridged the divide between comic and film. A faithful comic book aesthetic was cinematic in Snyder and Fong’s hands, producing results such as 300 and Watchmen. Now, Snyder is his own cinematographer.
The director shot Army of the Dead and the two parts of his new sci-fi epic, Rebel Moon. He’s embraced this aesthetic that’s a dirty, muddy contrast to the slo-mo slickness on display. There’s a bleakness and shallowness to the images, sometimes purposefully, other times questionably.
Why did Snyder hire himself as his DP on his last two projects? “A couple of things,” he told Letterboxd. “I would say that probably my experience on Justice League, and what I would call the separation that happens between the director and the movie when you’re on a certain scale of production. The video village gets drawn out into being this massive, own camp, and it suddenly becomes like two tiers of chairs, ten monitors, and it looks like a whole other world. But then the movie’s over there, way out there, somewhere else.”
For Snyder, the transition wasn’t as daunting as it appears. “I had been a director or a cameraman in commercials for ten, twelve years—I know my way around the camera a little bit,” he added. “When I went to do Army, I was just like, ‘You know what? I got to just get back in it, give me the camera. I just want to go close.’ We had no video village on [Army of the Dead].”
Snyder, as he went on to explain, rediscovered his love of making movies again. With the camera in his hands and less suits looking over his shoulder, he’s thrilled. As for whether the end result is as enthralling as Snyder’s own creative experience, audiences and critics are split there.
Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire is now streaming on Netflix.