Director of 300
“It's difficult to find a movie that feels true to itself. You feel the hand of Hollywood, the moviemaking by committee, on everything.” Zack Snyder
First gaining notice as a commercial director, American director, screenwriter and producer Zack Snyder made an auspicious feature film directorial debut with the 2004 remake of George A. Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” (2004). However, it was his next film, “300” (2007), the highly awaited Spartan epic, that brought Snyder wide acknowledgment. The film was a commercial success and won Snyder a Saturn Award for his directing effort and an additional nomination for his writing job. The recipient of Hollywood Film Festival's Hollywood Movie of the Year in 2007, Snyder also directed the live action film “Watchmen” (2009), an adaptation of the popular comic book of the same name. Some of his upcoming film projects include “Army of the Dead” (2010, also producer), “Guardians of Ga'Hoole” (2010), “Sucker Punch” (2011, also producer) and an untitled “300” sequel” (2011).
Snyder is the cofounder (with his wife Deborah) of Cruel and Unusual Films, a Pasadena based production company.
Snyder currently lives in Pasadena, California, with and his wife and producing partner, Deborah Snyder, and his six children.
Father of 6
Childhood and Family:
The son of an executive recruiter and a photography teacher and painter, Zack Snyder was born on March 1, 1966, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and attended Greenwich's Daycroft School, where her mother worked. During summer months, young Zack often attended Camp Owatonna in Harrison, Maine. Inspired by his artistic mom, he enrolled at the Heatherley School of Fine Art in England to study painting and later attended the renowned Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
Zack has been married twice. He has four children with his former first wife Denise Snyder. Meeting in 1996, he and his current spouse, Deborah Johnson, tied the knot on September 25, 2004, in Manhattan. Zack also has two more kids from previous relationships.
Dawn of the Dead
Once an aspiring animator, 11-year-old Zack Snyder became interested in filmmaking and photography after watching “Star Wars” (1977) and getting a Super 8 camera from his parents.
In the early 1990s, Snyder began directing television commercials. He worked for such clients as BMW, Nissan, Audi, Subaru, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Nike, Budweiser, UPS, Reebok, and Gatorade. Once named by British Communication Arts Magazine as one of the most gifted commercial directors in the country, Snyder earned a number of awards, including two Clios and the Cannes' Gold Lion for his Jeep “Frisbee” commercial. He also won an award for his commercial “Russian Generals.” Znyder also directed music videos for artists like Paul Westerberg, Heather Nova, Soul Asylum, Shawn Colvin and Morrissey.
Snyder's success in the commercial world became his Hollywood calling card. By late 2002, he had signed a deal with Columbia Pictures to direct the big budget film adaptation of the 1975 TV series “S.W.A.T.” (2003). He, however, left the project because of creative differences and was replaced by Clark Johnson. He was then approached by Spyglass Entertainment to helm a film version of the comic book “Mage” but the project was postponed.
Undaunted, Snyder eventually scored his first break with the horror remake “Dawn of the Dead,” which starred Sarah Polley and Ving Rhames. Produced by Strike Entertainment and released by Universal Pictures on March 19, 2004, the film was well received by both critics and audiences. With a budget of $28 million, it went on to gross over $102 million worldwide, making it one of the few zombie movies to collect such an impressive amount of money. It won a Golden Trailer for Best Horror/Thriller and was nominated for a Saturn for Best Horror Film and a Teen Choice for Choice Movie - Thriller. The success of the film subsequently launched Snyder's career.
Snyder resurfaced with “300,” which he directed and wrote. An adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller, the action film starred Gerard Butler and received a theatrical release in the U.S. on March 9, 2007. “300” was considered a box office hit with the opening weekend gross of over $70 million. “300” also created a new record for having the biggest opening weekend in the month of March and became the 24th highest grossing film in box office history. Snyder won a 2008 Saturn for Best Director, plus a nomination for Best Writing, which he shared with writing partners Michael Gordon and Kurt Johnstad.
Snyder returned to the director’s chair with the anticipated superhero film “Watchmen” (2009), which was based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' comic book of the same name. Starring Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson, the film hit theaters on March 6, 2009, and grossed $55 million during its opening weekend, although it received mixed reviews from critics. His wife Deborah served as a producer of the movie.
Also in 2009, Snyder executive produced and wrote the screenplay of the 26-minute animated film adaptation of “Tales of the Black Freighter,” which was jointly helmed by Daniel DelPurgatorio and Mike Smith. Some actors who lent their voices to the projects included “300” star Gerard Butler, Jared Harris, Siobhan Flynn and Salli Saffioti. He also served as executive producer for the direct-to-video adventure film “Under the Hood,” which was helmed by Eric Matthies, and directed the music video “Desolation Row” for My Chemical Romance. The same year, Snyder was honored with the ShoWest Award for Director of the Year at the 2009 ShoWest Convention.
Snyder and his wife will produce the films “Army of the Dead” (2010) and “Sucker Punch” (2011), which will star Carla Gugino, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung and Jena Malone. He also contributed to the stories of both projects and serves as the director in the latter. Snyder is scheduled to helm the animation film “Guardians of Ga'Hoole” (2010), with his wife serving as executive producer, and the sequel of “300,” which is slated for a 2011 release. Snyder's name is also connected to other upcoming film projects, such as “The Illustrated Man,” “The Last Photograph,” “Cobalt 60” and “Heavy Metal.”
ShoWest Convention: ShoWest Award, Director of the Year, 2009
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Saturn Award, Best Director, “300,” 2008
Hollywood Film Festival: Hollywood Movie of the Year, 2007
Cannes' Gold Lion