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Here we are, at the end. Like it or not, SAW has become an immensely successful and very telling franchise for our times, and if SAW 3D (opening today from Lionsgate) really is the sendoff, you have to admit that—no matter what you think of the franchise—you’re at least a little curious about how it’s all going to go down. Director Kevin Greutert, returning to the helm from SAW VI, briefly spoke with Fango about the final curtain, and ringing it down in real-deal 3-D.
FANGORIA: Let’s discuss shooting in 3-D and how that infringes upon your vision stylistically in directing. Did it restrict you in any way?
KEVIN GREUTERT: I was concerned before making the film that 3-D was going to be very restrictive, and there were a lot of competing points of view on what 3-D means and how it should be utilized. Because the images had to be more brighly lit—you need a lot more light to make it work—I was afraid that it would not lend itself to the look of a horror film; everybody likes to have pools of light and darkness in their horror movies. As it turns out, we were able to work around that. We weren’t able to do the kind of long-lens tricks that you do with traditional film, where you’ll have a subject that’s in focus but the background will be soft; that kind of stuff just doesn’t look as good in 3-D.
But at the end of the day, we had handheld 3-D cameras which are very new. It’s a look that I don’t think people have really seen yet, and ultimately, we were able to cut the film almost as fast as we would otherwise and do all the same kinds of visual tricks. By the end, we had multiple cameras so we were able to shoot a whole bunch of footage to make the scenes work well. It all turned out fine, and I was not too constricted. I didn’t have my hands tied.
FANG: What about the gore and blood FX? How did the 3-D affect those setups?
GREUTERT: For the first two weeks, we only had one camera, because these 3-D rigs are very hand-crafted gizmos. That’s very difficult on a film like this, because a lot of our gore effects and prosthetics and machines only operate one time. So in the past, we would’ve had three cameras running as somebody got their arm cut off or whatever and we had to make that shot really matter. That was tricky. When it comes to gore, you need to have as much blood spilling as you can, because often there’s only one take.
FANG: Coming from editing much of the series, have you cut [the sequels you’ve directed] in your head as you go?
GREUTERT: I wouldn’t say that I edit in my head as I shoot the film, but I’m definitely very aware of getting the footage I need in order to put it together. My background as an editor lets me know what kind of shots I need. Looking at the script, I know if a line is going to have to be in close-up, even if nothing else is—that sort of thing.
FANG: Do you feel honored helming SAW’s final chapter?
GREUTERT: It’s very cool to be the director of the last SAW movie, there’s no question about that. It would’ve been a little sad passing the ring to somebody else after having put in six years of my life, so in many ways, I was glad to be able to do it.
FANG: You came on pretty late; did you have much input into the screenplay?
GREUTERT: The script was written and the film was nearly ready for production by the time I was whisked off to Toronto to direct the film. That said, we kind of took the script apart and rebuilt it in a number of ways. It’s still the same story, but we changed a bunch of the scenes, a lot of the traps, we altered the main characters quite a bit. It got a pretty major overhaul. Marcus Dunstan was on set for about four weeks and constantly turning out new pages; the script never really stopped being written until we were done with the sound mix.
FANG: Was there a conscious effort to make this feel epic?
GREUTERT: Oh, absolutely—we wanted this to feel like the biggest SAW of all, and I think we did.
FANG: Do you see yourself continuing on in the genre after this?
GREUTERT: Yeah, I would like to. That said, I would very much like to expand into other genres, so hopefully my next project will be a bit more of a thriller than a straight-ahead horror movie, but I’m still completely open to horror as well.
FANG: What kind of thriller would you like that to be?
GREUTERT: I really enjoy science fiction. Whether it’s that genre or not, I like mind-expanding cinema and books. I have an idea for a historical epic I would like to make. But the sky’s the limit. My favorite directors are those who have worked in all sorts of genres, like Stanley Kubrick.
FANG: Lastly, I asked Cary Elwes about this, so where do you fall in with John/Jigsaw’s philosophies?
GREUTERT: I kind of never bought into it. I think he’s very self-deluding, and anybody who’s actually been rehabilitated in some way by being put in a Jigsaw trap probably has some very serious psychological problems [laughs].
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