Recently, B-D chatted it up with writing duo Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, the minds behind the last three `Saw’ films (including the upcoming `Saw VII’) and last year’s The Collector, released this month on DVD and Blu-ray. In the interview they addressed why it took nine months for the movie to make it to our living rooms, the “alternate ending” they shot exclusively for the DVD/Blu-ray (trust me when I tell you not to get too excited), and the development of the film’s sequel. Will Dunstan return to the director’s chair? Read on to find out.
BD: The DVD took like nine months to come out. Why is that?
Patrick: The reason, which was perplexing to us of course when we learned that it wasn’t gonna come out until April, was because when Mickey bought it, he actually really rushed it to get it released domestically without having pre-sold the foreign rights. So it came out in the U.S., and then he sold the foreign rights at like AFM. And so he wanted to wait – understandably – he wanted to wait for all the territories to show it before it came out on DVD. Because if it came out on DVD here, it’d be too easy to get pirated copies overseas, and they wouldn’t go see it when it’s in the theater.
Marcus: It actually worked out very well, the timeline, because it made everything it had to make in the theaters, it did just what it had to do overseas, so by the time the handful of interviews came around for the release of the Blu-ray, we were able to announce, `hey, by the way, right now we’re working on a second one, so please enjoy!’ So it’s been nice. I think it’s had a charmed…an unconventional but charmed run out there.
BD: Marcus, how was your first experience as a director?
Marcus: Oh my gosh, you know…
Patrick: He’s retired.
Marcus: I’m retired, I…[laughs]…well, I guess I went in order. At first it’s exhilarating, and then the first two weeks were really scary, and then by the end when we had something to defend that we were all liking what we were seeing, it was just a really powerful buzz. And it was just totally, totally, totally exciting to see something that was once an ounce of paper now fighting, slashing and screaming in front of us…that was really something worth doing again…man, it was just wonderful and we’re really excited to get back out there and tackle another story.
BD: You’ll be directing the second one too, right?
Marcus: Possibly. That could very well happen. If everything lines up appropriately, meaning if we’ve got the budget to do it right, and the time to do it right, then absolutely. I think it’d be nuts to not seriously consider that.
BD: Are the deleted scenes filled with gory stuff that couldn’t be in the theatrical release?
Marcus: Oh, no. There’s actually one extra on the DVD that I think is wholesale worth it, and that is our alternate ending, aka “the truth”. And I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but there’s a pivotal moment right in the middle of the movie where our lead character makes a decision to charge back into this horrifying house to try to save an innocent little child from being demolished. And so of course…he charges back in there to try to save the day to the best he can, but in the alternate ending he simply turns around, flips her off, and keeps running…[Laughter]…I had to put that on there because even though we were making something straight-faced and serious, I wanted to have at least to have one version that was from the world of [unintelligible].
BD: So that was never intended to be in the movie…
Marcus: No, no, no. It was simply a joke for people that wanted to see an alternate ending, like, `What?? He flips her off and then runs away?’ [Laughter]…the other scenes are…I think they’re typical deleted scenes. Some character moments and a few extended moments that while well done, wonderfully performed, and all that jazz, by the time we were watching the final version we really wanted to get into the house. So it was a very lean first act. And so mostly they’ll come from the first act, and all the gore and everything we wanted, I didn’t even bother putting back in to consider a director’s cut because I don’t really care for the director’s cuts that have about three seconds of added spray and nothing else. And really, we got away with murder on this movie. After seven trips to the MPAA, we fought to a place where we had exactly what we wanted to get out. And we were lucky to do so. So any more…I mean, do we really need some more of the blood in certain scenes? No. There was plenty in there to get the point across and to hit as hard as we wanted. So I was very satisfied with what came out.
BD: I know it was initially conceived as a `Saw’ prequel. In hindsight are you glad that didn’t happen–
Patrick: Well no, it was never conceived as that. We conceived it as just a stand-alone movie. But what happened was, when it was shown to the Twisted guys…
Marcus: They considered [doing it] as a prequel, but it was its own beast.
BD: But are you glad it didn’t end up becoming a `Saw’ prequel, given that you had more creative freedom doing it on your own?
Marcus: You know, if it wasn’t for `Saw’, we would never have had the chance to make that movie. If it wasn’t for the popularity of `Saw’, no studio would ever have wanted to give a budget to that movie. So we definitely embraced both sides of that. Embracing the chance to tell our own story, and also embracing the popularity of the other franchise that allowed us to tell that kind of story.
BD: How far are you guys in the process of writing the second script?
Marcus: Well, tomorrow we go in – we just turned in the story – so tomorrow we’ll go in and get all the reactions to it, and probably hammer it up to a degree, and then hopefully we’ll be off to the races on a draft.
BD: So it’s just more of a beat-sheet kinda thing right now?
Patrick: Yeah, we’re at the sort of outlining stage.
BD: Is Freestyle going to be the distributor for the second one?
Marcus: I don’t know…our involvement tapers off once we’ve turned the movie in, I really don’t know.
Patrick: Mickey Liddell is gonna do it, and he’s gonna finance it, but I don’t know what the distribution plan would be…it depends, I guess we’ll see what happens….the plan is to actually start shooting this October. That’s the loose plan that we have, so we’ll see if we can hit that.
BD: What is the setting for this one? Does it take place in another house, or…?
Marcus: The idea is…I guess the best sequels…kinda [feel] like [they're] their own movie. So the nice thing about where we left off with our characters in the first one is we have a killer that we haven’t identified. We don’t know much about him, we just know that he’s pretty much a cipher of evil. We’ve got a guy we care about in a pretty hairy predicament. And those are the only things we probably would want to have to involve in another one. So it could take place in a completely different storyline and rope those folks in and develop them, and reveal a few more things that serve a plot that would’ve been its own exhilarating movie.
BD: Do you guys foresee it as going past the second movie?
Marcus: Well, right now the goal is to just rock the next one. That’s it…it has to be earned with a pretty bitchin’ number two.
BD: So you didn’t conceive it as nine films like George Lucas with `Star Wars’.
Marcus: No, no, no. I mean, if the next one opens up in space, perhaps.
THE COLLECTOR is now on DVD and Blu-ray everywhere.