Saw DVD party!!!

by Chris Gaede

I usually spend Tuesday evenings being glad that Monday is over and that Wednesday is just a few short hours away. However, this past Tuesday night I was invited to a club called Blue, up in Hollywood . Lion’s Gate was kind enough to invite JoBlo.com out to help celebrate the dvd release of SAW, hitting shelves on Tuesday February 15th (click here to pre-order from Amazon.com).

You’ve probably seen SAW or at least heard about it. Needless to say, it’s one of those movies that are better the less you know about it (besides, this is the internet; you can find a synopsis somewhere else!). The director James Wan and writer/actor Leigh Whannell , as well as stars Cary Elwes and Shawnee Smith were out to launch the dvd. I got a chance to speak with them about the film.

But a few things first…

Upon getting to the entrance, I had to go to the “list guy”, he’s the one to make sure you’re on the list. There is the obligatory moment of panic as he searches, where you think he won’t find your name. But of course he did. I was then handed a rubber shackle as a little gag gift. A lot of SAW revolves around the two main characters being shackled up in the world’s dirtiest bathroom, so it was an appropriate piece of swag. See the picture below.

Inside, the club had been done up SAW-style. Red light bathed chain link fences and mannequins covered in chains. There were waiters walking around with food as the movie played on a projection screen in the background. The thought of eating any meat products at this party was…well, let’s just say I couldn’t go there.

I wandered around, waiting for my interview slot. It’s funny how you can still feel alone in a room full of people. Thankfully, some friendly faces from other websites arrived (thanks to Jeff, John, Heidi – this is what is known in the Hip Hop community as a “shout out”. I can promise the reader that this is the last time I will refer to these words in reference to me, as I don’t “hop”, I have no community, and I am not “hip).

Later, I was ushered over to interview James Wan, Leigh Whannell, and Cary Elwes. It was loud in the club, but by some miracle, my recording turned out to audible. After a few handshakes, James Wan asked me about the nominations for the Golden Schmoes (to answer the question “What are the Golden Schmoes?” go to this link and stay tuned to JoBlo.com on Friday, February 18th, as you will get to vote for your favorites until February 24th...winners announced on February 25th...SAW was nominated in 5 categories...nice!)

(A word of warning to aspiring filmmakers: You’re going to read a lot about passion in the following interview. Reading what these guys have to say about film, you may be inspired, you may also get angry at yourself for being lazy and not getting off your ass to write that script you’ve been telling all of your friends about since 1996.)

Then we jumped right into the interview, first talking about their reaction to the phenomenal success of SAW.

From left to right: guy doing the interview, a.k.a. Chris, director James Wan, actor/writer Leigh Whannell, actor Cary Elwes

JAMES WAN (JW): We always thought we’d be lucky to get this film straight to video. And for it to be picked up by Lion’s Gate and having Cary on the film as well, along with Danny (Glover) and Monica Potter…it’s just amazing. And for the film to go out with a huge release and to do as well as it has…we would be kidding ourselves if we were to say that we were expecting any of this.

Cary, you’ve been involved with a lot of large films. What was it like for you to come in on a small picture like this?

CARY ELWES (CE): It was an 18 day shoot. It’s like I always say, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. And these guys, it might be considered an overnight success, but everything that they’ve learned to prepare for it in their lives, learning the business, learning the craft, has brought them to this moment. And they’ve worked really hard for it. It may not look like it because they like to be modest about it. (James and Leigh laugh) But they’re incredibly hard working. They did a lot of preparation for this. They knew exactly how they wanted the film to look, how they wanted it to sound…

LEIGH WHANNELL (LW): I lived in a shithouse that looked like the bathroom for five years so…

CE: We didn’t have time to leave anything to chance. It was the bringing together of passionate people. I was sold on their passion and their vision.

(to Leigh and James) How freaked out were you guys, working with Cary and Danny Glover and Monica Potter, etc.? You were probably like “we’ve really gotta be on the ball.”

JW: I have to admit I was really nervous when I had to go meet Cary.

LW: I remember that day.

JW: But then I met Cary and Cary’s really the nicest guy, and I’m not just saying that because you’re recording it. He made us feel really comfortable on the film.

Eli Roth, the director of CABIN FEVER, says that “horror” is like a dirty word. But if a horror film makes more than $100 million dollars, it’s suddenly considered a thriller and everybody looks at it differently. Why do you guys think that people are afraid of giving any legitimacy to the genre?

LW: I think that’s changed though, in a mainstream sense at least, with films like THE GRUDGE. I think it WAS a dirty word, I know what you mean. Films like THE SIXTH SENSE would come out, and SCREAM, and the advertising would insist on calling them “suspense thrillers”.

JW: Yeah, I think horror is now considered really hip.


(to Cary) Do you feel like that’s changing for actors as well?

CE: I can’t speak for them, I can only speak for myself. But my criteria is very simple. It’s either on the page, and in the spirit of the people I’m working with, and their passion, or it’s never going to be there.

What’s going to be the involvement of everyone in SAW 2? Or is it still TBA (to be announced)?

CE: Still TBA.

LW: James and I definitely want to be involved. At the very least, we want to oversee, to make sure with the sequel…

JW: I’m trying to convince Leigh to direct the sequel!

(to James) And then you star in it? (Here, I accented this "joke" with one my special, patented guffaws, that sorta sound slike actor Ted Levine choking on a marshmallow.)

JW: Exactly!

LW: Oh yeah, that would be a lot of fun.

JW: It would be such a terrible film!

LW: Then I would just go up to him and say “Don’t act…BE!”


LW:And then Cary could be my co-director and we would have sweet vengeance on this prick!

As far as making the movie, what were some influences?

LW: We had a ton of influences. .. everything from Dario Argento films to Nine Inch Nails videos, to even music. We would listen to music by the Kronos Quartet, and that would influence part of the look of SAW. Even films like CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, that don’t really relate to SAW, were sort of influences.

How much of a help or hindrance was SEVEN? Were people saying “Well, because SEVEN was a hit, we’ll go forward with this”, or were they saying “that’s too much like SEVEN”?

(Note: I’m sorry, I refuse to write the title seven like this: SE7EN. This is the only time that putting a number in a title worked, and it diminishes it if I try to write it that way, cuz then it looks like I’m trying to be “cool and in the know”. There are many bad examples of this trend. That’s right, I’m talking to you MURD3R BY NUMB8RS and 5IVE TO MIDNIGHT.)

JW: It’s ironic, because SEVEN was never really an influence, even though that was the film we got compared to the most. My biggest influence was Dario Argento and David Lynch. But look…if you want to be compared to someone else, or another film, it’s good to be compared to a good film.

LW: I definitely think in terms of SAW getting made, I think that SEVEN busted the door down and paved the way for really dark thrillers, with down endings. Without SEVEN, because it was such a hit…it’s that classic thing in Hollywood, if something else does well, then it’s okay.

CE: They’re pretty savvy for guys who just got here!

LW: Pretty savvy for a couple of colonials!

What’s been the biggest surprise trying to get into Hollywood and get your film made?

LW: I can answer straight away. I didn’t know it was this accessible. Like, I know this doesn’t happen all the time, and we’ve had real luck, but it’s a more accessible place than I though it was, in terms of getting in a room and pitching your ideas.

Why do you think that is?

LW: I feel like everyone here is so scared of missing out on the next big thing that they listen to anyone and everyone’s ideas. They may not pick them, but they listen. From over in Australia, I had this vision that Hollywood would be a real “who you know, closed door, you can’t get in”…but I haven’t found it like that at all.

JW: If you have a project that everyone wants, you can get through doors basically.

CE: These guys were also very smart. They didn’t just have a great script; they prepared a little short, and gave everyone a teaser.

It was the scene with Shawnee right? (Note: If you haven’t seen the film, see it for this scene alone. To give anymore away would be criminal)

JW: Except it was played by Leigh.

CE: And they paid for it out of their own pockets. It was the first thing I watched before opening the script. And I emailed the producers with one word, which was “WOW”!

And I was expecting, you know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I was half expecting to meet…Marilyn Manson! So they’re very sweet, very…

LW: Attractive…

CE: Attractive, very shy guys, and they’re very modest about their talent.

JW: And we hear we’re great lovers as well!

(to Cary) For you as an actor, you’re obviously in a pretty dark place for 18 days. Were you taking it home with you? Was it hard to shrug off?

CE: It was hard to shower off.

LW: That bathroom was fucking dirty!

CE: I’d go to meeting sometimes, or dinners and what have you, and I’d still have a lot of grime on me, and people would look at me a little strangely. And I’d explain that I was making this film. But 18 days is faster than you think. I was itching to get to work everyday on this film.

Advice wise, a lot of aspiring filmmakers read this website, what would you tell them after your recent experience?

JW: Write a script that you’re really passionate about, if you really believe in it, push for it. And if you want to be a director, like what we did…we took a scene from the script and we shot it and we shopped it around. If you’re really passionate about what you do, and you really wanna go all the way, spend the money, put all your effort in it, and good things can happen, I’m not making this up, because it’s happening to us.

LW: The best way to break into Hollywood, from my point of view, is to write a good script. People are starving for good scripts in this town. Everybody’s looking for a good story right?

CE: They really are, I couldn’t agree with you more. I think that and the fact that they made this little short themselves. It showed everyone that they were very serious and they were passionate about their vision. And they weren’t going to let anyone else do it. That’s the same advice that I would give any young filmmaker, as James has. You’ve gotta be passionate about what you believe in.

Who's the dude giggling like a little girl? Oh wait...that's me......

With that the interview was concluded. I was won over by the enthusiasm of the guys. If you want to be a filmmaker, the simple hard truth is that you have to bust your ass, and make it happen for yourself. The SAW team was a nice reminder of that. It’s funny, I think for a few years, when I was younger, I had this delusion that good luck and the chance to make movies would just be handed to me. I would like to thank all of friends and family, who sat by and watched me act like an idiot, and didn’t tell me what moron I was being for thinking that. In their defense, I never mentioned any of this to any of them, so how would they know? Who’s to blame? Oh yeah…me.

After the interview, another star of the film, Shawnee Smith, arrived. I wasn’t able to get an interview, but I did get to have a nice conversation with her…which in the context of an article predicated on interviews doesn’t mean anything to the readers of this site…so, moving on…

Another missed interview opportunity was CABIN FEVER director Eli Roth, who showed up for a while. Now, I wanted to point this out, because Eli mentions on his commentary track for CABIN FEVER (which I ironically had just listened to the night before, I don’t know if Eli believed me when I told him this), that most people in Hollywood like to tear each other down. But not so with horror film directors. He says that he has found them incredibly supportive. The fact that he was at this party was an example of that theory in motion. Always nice to see people being supportive, instead of rooting for the downfall of others.

The evening was a success, many thanks to Jodie and Matthew from Lion’s Gate for helping me get everything that I needed, and for helping to put on a great party.

I left the club satisfied, but I couldn’t help but wonder...the interview was making me evaluate things. These guys had success because they went for it, they went after their dreams. The world is full of people who just talk, and so few who do what they say. Was I one of these people, those dreaded “talkers”? Will I get my act together?

I’m trying Ringo…I’m trying real hard.


Source: JoBlo.com



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