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Exclusive: We Interview 'Saw VI' Director Kevin Greutert!

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A few of us here at FEARnet think there’s an underground bunker nestled somewhere in Los Angeles – a bunker housing a pile of Darren Lynn Bousman’s used Kleenex and the genetics engineering laboratory out of which they’re used to breed each new Saw director. And with the speed at which the franchise’s directors are announced and popping out sequels, we may not be entirely wrong! While fans were barely over the hype of Saw V—which JUST hit theaters October 24th--the director of Saw VI, Kevin Greutert (who’s edited the other films in the series), had already been announced, and preliminary plans were underway for Greutert’s first foray at the helm of the Jiggy Mc-Jigsaw franchise!

This past weekend, FEARnet Editor Joe McCabe caught up with Greutert to see what he’s cookin’ for his first go at the ol’ trap-happy Saw story in New York City, right smack in the middle of the very first Sawmania, a convention for none other than those crazzzaaazzyyy Saw enthusiasts! Saw VI will hit theaters at Halloween 2009. Check out the full interview for a taste of what we can expect – and tons of pictures from Sawmania 2008 – after the jump!

How much of a challenge is Saw VI compared to the other films in the series?
I think it only gets harder to make the movies good. We always try to think of ways to blow the audiences’ minds, but the audience is always trying to stay one step ahead of you, which makes it that much harder. If it was the first in a series you really wouldn’t know what to expect, but now the expectations for something unexpected to happen are so high, it makes it a lot harder. The only way to do it is to live and breathe it. I was just talking to Eric, the guy who plays Eric – Mark Rolston. I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of pages of every conceivable variation of what we can do with Saw VI and beyond. One of those will hopefully be the thing that we get. But it’s a matter of thinking through every possible thing we can imagine. And of course creating new characters that we think people will like and can contribute to the drama – that’s important as well.

So right now the script hasn’t been finalized?
The script is not finalized, no. We’re actively working on it – but it’s coming along.

The series is somewhat varied in tone-alternating between drama and thrill ride. How do you see the tone of the next one?
Well I’d love it to be the best of both worlds. Out of the five movies, Saw I is my favorite because I thought it had the most out of the bunch. It was very stylistic but also referenced giallo filmmakers. It had a good twist, but then it also had good dramatic elements. But I also loved Saw II with the adrenaline and the pace of the thing. It moved fast enough – because Saw I was kind of slow and meticulous and Saw II was more breathless. I’d love to be able to do both.

You mentioned giallo – are there any other influences you’d like to bring to the series?
There’s a little bit of Fassbender’s Chinese Roulette – do you know this film? It’s not a great movie, but it’s very Saw-like. There’s a girl in it who reminds me very much of Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka – who’s torturing parents, two parents who are having an affair with one another. It’s a curious movie. Other European filmmakers I love – Werner Herzog. Nosferatu is really great, poetic. Would it influence Saw? Maybe a little bit. I recently saw Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr which has some really incredible shots. Really, really great – again, very poetic cinema. But the giallo films are definitely the most Saw-like. You know, you got the villain whose face is hidden – til the end – with the black gloves and very enigmatic clues. Very poetic as well. Who’s the bad guy? Could be this person, could be that person. But all that iconography I would love to incorporate into the film.

You mentioned you’re working on the script – are you working with the writers of the preceding Saw chapters? Are you bringing anyone else in?
There are two writers working on the script. Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunston – who worked on the other two films – so they’re doing all the hard work. But we all contributed to the outline.

Is it safe to say we’ll at least be seeing Tobin and Costas Mandylor and Mark Rolston again?

Um… Tobin, Costas, and Mark Rolston – yeah, definitely. They’ll all have key parts. In terms of other people – Betsy Russell. But the others I can’t say. There will definitely be some interesting stuff in that respect though.

So your film’s release date – October 23 – is the same as another anticipated horror film – Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s Cabin in the Woods… any thoughts about the competition?
I saw that. There was an article that mentioned that. I’m not sure how much competition that will cause. But it’s interesting that people don’t see Saw as such a threat to have the same opening day. [Laughs.]

Is that a good or a bad thing?
It could be a bad thing, but I’m not concerned. I think we’ll stomp ‘em still. [Laughs.]

Have you seen any good horror films lately?
The last horror film I saw was Let the Right One In. I thought that film was so good. I didn’t think it was scary but I thought it was good. It worked well as a character piece. I can’t really think of the last film that really scared me. I’ve seen a lot of horror films that didn’t scare me. I haven’t seen one that I could really say “Yes” about. I was pleased with the way that The Strangers came out, which was the film I edited between Saw IV and V. It was really cool. I thought we were able to do a lot of horror stuff that was very different from Saw. It was very slow burning in the beginning, you spend a bit of time letting the actors develop their characters. There was very little dialogue, very controlled naturalistic sound – the music in particular. The composers Tom and Andy were very fun to work with. A lot of acoustic non-musical samples to construct the soundtrack, and that was really fun.

It often seems that when an editor turns to directing, they have an edge they can bring to the table. Can you talk about how your experience has helped you?
On a mental level, I have probably a better idea of what coverage I need or don’t need. Sometimes a scene will be over-covered. You know they’ll do a wide shot and then go in for mediums and then go in for a close-up when in fact they only needed the wide-shot to open up the first couple lines of the scene. And in some cases, in a three-minute scene it’s just a waste of film. Then also, particularly with the Saw films, as an editor I’m very conscious of not wasting time with shoe leather. If there’s a character that has to walk across the room – there’s a good way to do it and a bad way to do it. There are numerous good and bad ways to do it. I’m always thinking about how to be as economical as possible so we’re not wasting time, and it lets you control the pace much better. It really lets you understand what we don’t need to see and still understand the story.

At this point, are you just looking to direct this Saw film or could you see yourself staying on for other future installments?
It’s too early to say. [Laughs.] It might just be hubris to say anything at all because if Saw VI does terrible then I might be going back to the editing room.

Is there any pressure in the sense that you’re saying “Oh no, I don’t want my movie to be the last one…”?
Yeah, I mean the pressure’s terrible. But I have faith that it’ll work out. I think for numerous reasons it gets harder. We need to think of new stuff. Jigsaw’s dead and Amanda’s dead, and we obviously need to keep Jigsaw’s presence in the film because that’s the focal point of these movies. With every episode that we get away from Saw III it gets harder, in the respect that we are trying to keep it new and make sure we’re showing you something you didn’t know before, and that’s interesting and unexpected without resorting to some kind of labyrinthine story device that pulls you out of the movie. That’s really the big thing.

You mentioned Amanda’s dead. Is there any way she might come back?
She’s dead to me. In Saw III, she died. But what I’m really hoping is that in the next few months there’s a breakthrough in time-machine technology, so that we can sanely go back and rescue Jigsaw from the past. [Laughs.] We could bring him back and people would say, “Oh yeah, they can do that because time machines exist now.” But if that doesn’t happen we’re going to have to get very creative.

In real life, what’s your greatest fear?
Greatest fear… I’d have to say speaking in front of a room full of Saw fans, [if] Saw VI isn’t any good. [Laughs.]

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