Most of what I have learned about how to be a good filmmaker making short films has been by watching bad movies and figuring out why I don’t like them.
Which obviously brings us to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (BVS). Filmmaker student heaven.
My friend Kyle Trivanovich and I teamed up on a video review of this movie. He has a blog on Technology and the Human Condition which you should check out.
Here are the best lessons you can learn from the mistakes made in BVS.
#1. MAKE PEOPLE LOVE THE CHARACTERS
People need to connect with the characters and the world they live in before they will care about what happens to them. The scene with Clark and Lois at their apartment should have been where we got to know them and care about them. But instead the characters just recited angsty plot points, had a forced bathtub splash, and moved on. This was something the filmmakers did all throughout the movie, which weakened the story’s impact.
#2. DEVELOP YOUR IDEAS
Make sure as a filmmaker you dig down deep into the issues you raise and really wrestle with them. There were so many great ideas in the movie. Should someone with so much power use it unilaterally? How can we have faith in people with power when they have let us down? The courtroom scene would have been a perfect opportunity to have people argue about these issues, but we only scratched the surface.
#3. FIND OTHERS TO DO WHAT YOU CAN’T
Zack Snyder is good at a very specific thing: making great visuals and action sequences. Screenwriting? Not so much. As a filmmaker if you have a strength, make sure you have a team that is strong where you’re weak.
#4. FUN COVERS OVER A MULTITUDE OF SINS
One of the criticisms people have is that the movie is that it is so grim. People love dark movies, exhibit a: The Dark Knight. But the darker your movie is, the more it exposes any shallowness or silliness in your story. But the more fun it is, the less people mind the flaws you have. I made my first short films comedy based until I was good enough at my craft to do dark really well—and even then I made sure there was banter and fun mixed in.
# 5. DON’T OVERDUE YOUR TROPES
Every filmmaker has tropes they overdue. JJ Abrams has lens flairs. Michael Bay has explosions, hot girls and American flags. Zack Snyder has melodramatic reverent visuals and slow-mo. Zack Snyder uses this to great effect to show the drama of these Godlike heroes, but he used it in so many shots that it lost its dramatic power. Be sure you use your signature flair strategically
There you have it! If you were disappointed in Batman v Superman’s but its mistakes make you a better filmmaker, then I’d say the trade off is well worth it.