CCI: Film Visionaries

Entertainment Weekly picked four of the most interesting and accomplished directors working in film today for their The Visionaries: Filmmakers panel presentation at Comic-Con International in San Diego last weekend. Kevin Smith ("Zack and Miri Make a Porno"), Frank Miller ("The Spirit"), Judd Apatow ("Knocked Up") and Zach Snyder ("Watchmen") gathered to discuss film, comics and pop-culture in front of a packed in and excited crowd.

Entertainment Weekly's Marc Bernardin moderated the panel and after introducing Miller, Snyder and Apatow, introduced "Kevin Motherfucking Smith." When Smith sat down he noticed a note on the back of his name-card that he read to Bernerdin: "Please be aware that many members of your audience are under the age of eighteen."

"I'll try to be mindful of that but you'll have to excuse me, my vocabulary is not that large," Smith remarked.

Bernardin began by asking the panel, "What in each of your lives predisposed you to create material for this kind of audience?" "I just wanted to get my cock sucked sir," answered Smith. Apatow shouted, "I'd still like that to happen."

When the question went to Snyder he seemed to be at a loss for words. Fumbling for an answer, Smith came to the rescue. "Thank god your visuals are so strong." Smith, who attended the "Watchmen" panel earlier in the day, gushed over the upcoming film. Asking the audience, "Wasn't it fucking dope? Didn't it make you want to quit your job?" Smith turned to Snyder and said, "It was religious dude, and it looks brilliant."

"Don't you understand, 'The Watchmen' movie is so fucking important that once it comes out they can stop doing this shit forever," Smith laughed. "The only reason there has ever been a San Diego Con is so that one day someone would make the Watchmen movie. I see that movie and I'm ready to fucking die."

Bernardin asked Miller and Snyder about adapting "The Spirit" and "Watchmen" for the big screen. "There are so many things that can go wrong, when did you know that you were doing something right?"

"The jury's still out on that but, as soon as we got Nixon back I felt pretty good about it," said Snyder. "There's a domino effect that happens when you start to you put Nixon, and the Cold War back. Then suddenly you have something that starts to resemble 'Watchmen' and for me that's what it's all about."

"I knew that things were going right on 'The Spirit' when I got footage back of the top of a water tank with the Spirit running up it and sliding down the other side. Right at the peak he stumbles just a little bit. I said, got it! That's the Spirit," explained Miller.

Bernardin asked the panel if they felt that the quality of "The Dark Knight" is a turning point for comic adapted films? The panel all turned to Miller for the answer but the director seemed annoyed by the question.

Snyder jumped in by saying that it's good that "The Dark Knight" is making money and that people like it. But that what's great is that Nolan made a film that was personal to him and therefore personal to the audience watching it. "That's the best experience that you can have at the movies," he added.

Miller was asked about the Internet and if he ever feels pressure from the fans. "I read a little bit here and there but I figure that it's my job to give you what you don't ask for but know that you want."

Next, the panel was asked if they ever had a "geek" moment where they got as excited about something as the fanboys in the audience? Smith answered, "Yes, backstage when I met Zack for the first time." "I never met the dude before. I went to give him a hug and he stepped back, " joked Smith. "It's not that big of a fraternity, fat boy. My shit makes a hundred million, thirty million boy, back off," Smith said while impersonating Snyder.

"When I was in the sixth grade I saw the star of 'Bah Bah, Black Sheep', Robert Conrad, and I chased him on a bicycle for five miles," answered Apatow.

Snyder remembered a time when he was shooting a commercial with Harrison Ford. "I was with him for a couple of days and I thought that we were buddies. So I say, Harrison I probably shouldn't tell you this but I have a Han Solo in Carbon Freeze at home, a full size one. He said, 'Yeah you probably shouldn't have told me that."

For Miller, his geek moment came while on the set of "Sin City." It was the scene where Bruce Willis walks into the bar and sees Jessica Alba's character for the first time as an adult. He described Alba doing "an elegant dance" with her lasso to an Emmy Lou Harris song that Miller had chosen personally. "I found myself bursting into tears because I had realized that a dream had just come true."

Following that, the panel began to take questions from the audience.

A fan asked if Apatow felt that Smith was stealing one of his actors by casting Seth Rogan in his next film? To which Apatow replied, "Does that mean I get Affleck next?"

"Brother, you can have him at this point," laughed Smith.

Miller was asked which films or TV shows inspired him and his work. "It's a really long list that would include everything from old 'Gunsmoke' episodes to 'Astro-Boy' to 'Citizen Kane' so I can't name them all."

Snyder was asked about the Black Freighter section of "Watchmen." He confirmed that he is making an animated version that will be on DVD when the film is released and that Gerard Butler is voicing the sea Captain. He also said that he hopes to be able to put out an "Ultimate DVD" version of the film with the "Black Freighter" sequence weaved in.

When asked about a "Watchmen" video game, Snyder said that he had been approached to do one. "We've had quite a back and forth about that. They sent me a script and not to be mean but it was the dorkiest thing I had ever seen in my life. It had nothing to with 'Watchmen' and it was not cool at all." He went on to say that the developers were very open to suggestions on how to improve the script. "We tried to come up with an idea that was better. A game where you kill Woodward and Bernstien is cooler than what they had wanted to do," answered Snyder, who is an avid gamer.

Finally, Smith was asked his opinion of the current state of the Superman film franchise and if he thought that "Superman Returns" director Bryan Singer should make a sequel or if they should reboot the whole series. Smith began by calling out the fan that asked the question. "So my work doesn't interest you but my opinion of other peoples work does?" He went onto say that he feels that Bryan Singer deserves a second chance. "I think 'X2' is one of the best superhero films I've ever seen." Smith then compared 'Superman Returns" to "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." "I've heard Singer say that he wants to make it a 'Wrath of Khan' type sequel and I think that's the way to go. Let Singer make another Superman movie and he can fight Darksied or something."

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