Zack Snyder (and Doritos) Want You to Work on His DC Universe Movies

Superman actor Henry Cavill and Zack Snyder (AP)

Zack Snyder may be helping to build and oversee a multi-billion dollar comic book movie empire, but like the DC heroes he directs, the 49-year-old filmmaker still has time for the little guy.

As he puts the finishing touches on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and preps to unleash chaos on Gotham, Snyder is helping Doritos end its mega-successful Super Bowl advertising campaign with a bang. After ten years and more than 32,000 entries, the addictive Frito-Lay chip is running its last “Crash the Superbowl” campaign, which tasks aspiring filmmakers with making a 30-second commercial inspired by Doritos (last year, a 35-year-old first-time director won the prize). 

This year, fans at home will determine the winning ad, which will air during the Super Bowl. In addition, the lucky (and very talented) filmmaker who created it will get to work with Snyder on the set of an upcoming Warner Bros. and DC superhero movie. The winner will also get a $1 million prize, while the two runners-up will score a cool $100,000 and get to consult on an upcoming Doritos campaign.

Snyder, who began his career directing auto commercials, hopped on the phone with Yahoo Movies on Wednesday to discuss the contest, and to talk about everything from Batman v Superman rumors to Steven Spielberg’s recent comments about comic book flicks

So what are you looking for from entrants?
I think [the] idea is central — where you really see something shine and jump out. And [also asking], “What’s the intent? What is the goal?”, and seeing whether that’s achieved. When something works on you emotionally, or from a humor standpoint, or [from] whatever way it’s designed to work, when all those cylinders are firing — that’s something is really amazing. Especially in a commercial form, because you have to shorthand so much of the language to get to the joke, or the drama, or [to] whatever the intent is.

I think that that, in the past, when you look at the spots done in the past by people for the campaign, you really feel the individual’s personality come through in the spots. When you look at a [typical] corporate spot, something that’s been manufactured through corporate channels, the filmmaker gets crushed out of the process.

What would you say to people in general who want to jump into the film industry?
I’ve been back to film schools and people ask me, I always go, “It’s a weird business, there’s no one way in.” In the world that we’re in, there are opportunities now, because the technology has gotten to the point where it’s at everyone’s hands, almost. Your iPhone has a pretty camera on it. And then it comes down to, “What is your story? What do you want to say? Who are you?” The amazing thing about this program is finding the voices. It’s funny — everyone has a movie camera. Everyone can make a movie. But there’s not more movies because of it, [or at least] not necessarily more good movies. So it’s about the filmmakers, it’s all about the personality and that talent.

There are mostly blockbusters and tiny indie films these days, and Steven Spielberg said that he thought superhero movies would go the way of the western. As the guy running the DC franchise, what’d you think of that? 
He might not be wrong. I think it puts more pressure on us, the filmmakers, to not just crank out superhero movies for the sake of it. To me, the one thing I love working in the DC universe is that Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman are American mythology. It’s not about making a superhero, it’s a mythological universe that we live in. That I hope stands the test of time. They stood the test of time. That’s hopefully the sort of magic bullet. But who knows what audiences will want in the future. 

Is there anything you do to keep them fresh?
To me it’s about the drama, the humanity of it. Those are like Shakespearean characters, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, they have inherent drama built into their makeup.

Do you worry about stuffing too many heroes into Batman v Superman, or will those mostly be cameos?
I try and stay central. There’s something really fun about bringing the other characters in, but it’s really about staying central to the real core mythology is what I think the audience enjoys most.

There are so many rumors about the DC Universe. What are the craziest you’ve heard?
There are so many, it’s insanity. It’s funny because every now and then someone will touch on something that’s kind of true, but the next thing they say makes me realize that they took a wild guess. They’ll say something and I’ll say “Oh snap, they must have seen the script.” And then they’ll say, “And this happens!” And then I’ll go, They have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s fun for everyone to speculate and take shots and think of things and try to sell it. There’s an industry in selling your guess. [People think], “I’m going to make a fake script and look like I read the real one.” What length are you willing to go?

There’s a rumor that my son is [playing] Robin. It’s not true. Now there are all these images of him that people have made where he’s dressed like Robin. It’s fun to hear and see them.

You’re overseeing such a big, big universe, with Wonder Woman and Aquaman and other films. How do you handle overseeing them all?
I’m staying with Batman V Superman and Justice League and Justice League 2 — those are my main responsibilities, as well as producing the other movies. That’s the main line. Once you get Justice League, you’re pretty deep in it. But like I was saying, not to be a selfless promoter of our program, what it shows is that we have this giant berth of opportunity with the DC movies now to I think find the opportunities for even young filmmakers to even get involved because there are so many projects. 

Back to the contest: What will the winner be doing on set with you?
My hope is to find whatever their interest is. A lot of these guys that make these spots, they’re not necessarily like, “Oh, I want to be director.”  A guy might really like an aspect of filmmaking, like, “I made this spot, but I love editing.” Again, it goes back to the idea of finding this individual who has this incredible talent. The talent will separate them, and then it’s what do you want to do? What is your interest? And we’ll try to make that happen.

You can enter the contest here.