Also, you don’t entirely indulge in the love triangle between Snow White, the Prince and—
We really didn’t go out there to make a really romantic film. There’s no time for making love. They’re making war. It's just a mood. It’s just a part of the story, but a lot of people are focusing on this Twilight love triangle. It’s a story about a young girl protecting and obtaining her kingdom. She's helped along the way by many men and I think all of them are inspired and all of them are drawn towards her. There’s no dwarf triangle. [Laughs.]
Speaking of the dwarfs, the most surprising element of the movie was the fact that the dwarfs added a sense relief to this very serious film, and they were also played by huge British actors.
It was very important to find a group of guys who I felt would be already kind of bonded and I wanted them to be forged out of hardship together. I wanted them to be able to have unconditional heart under their exteriors and to try to find that sense of humor within and despite it all. They’re like British soldiers. Even in battle they were able to crack a smile. I think that is very much the dwarf.
Did you want it to be more of a British film?
It was unavoidable. I don’t think the American fairytale version would have worked so well. And I’m British. I come from there. I love the idea of the plague in them and the burns and the ruins. It was the sort of thing I grew up with, so it was my intention to make the film that way. So much of it is a part of me, same thing when anyone is doing their own thing. You have to immerse yourself in it; put yourself up there on the screen.
I watched some of your commercials and a couple of your short films and I noticed they all have this edgy, evocative aesthetic that Snow White has. What draws you to that?
I guess that’s kind of what I’m into. I like to be provocative. I’m not directing any comedy; I don’t watch them, they don’t excite me. I mean, I like all films, but there’s a point where they push you and make you question. My real goal was to make an emotional film that had an epic scale, intense action, and also had a message to it. I think a lot of films take from the audience but don’t give anything back, and that’s what I did not want.
When you were presented with this feature film, just having come off doing commercials, was it really daunting to approach it? How was it being your first time?
It was kind of like losing your virginity. Obviously, you have the anxiety of “What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do?” All of those things go into it, but if you take out all the challenges in life, then you won’t progress.
So yes, I was anxious and scared, but the adrenaline was there and I was confident in myself. I had to show that confidence at all times because if people see anxiety, they get worried. You have to be a strong leader, even if you’re scared rigid.
Most people would start off with a smaller, independent project but you went straight for the blockbuster.
I can’t say I sat down and said, "I’m gonna buy out and start this blockbuster." But for me, it was much harder to start on the ground than it was with this. This was the opportunity to really create my own destiny.
Do you have any upcoming projects in the works or that you're newly attached to?
There’s a lot of stuff zooming around and there’s a lot of stuff being written and being developed, so we’ll just see what pulls first, I guess.
With the film already premiered and seen all over the world, what do you think about the reaction it's getting?
A lot of people have really enjoyed the film and have come up to me and said, “Thank you so much for the film." That’s an incredible feeling. I hope a lot of people get to see it because I think they will be fulfilled emotionally and visually. All they want in the film, it's there.
Interview by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)