'Saw' Director James Wan Spills Gory Details About Cost Cutting
"Like anything in life, one has to be creative," he said. "One has to pick their battles. You don't want to spend all your money in one place. Sometimes I'd like to spend more money on one scene, but it's not very important. I'd rather save it for another scene that's more the money shot."
You can apply the same principle to the story of your financial life, Wan explained. Spend your money where it can be most effective. You might succeed with spine-chilling economizing."I'm pretty frugal," Wan said during this recent phone chat. "I don't spend money recklessly, but that doesn't mean I'm cheap. I like to spend money on things that appreciate down the track rather than depreciate."
The 34-year-old Wan, born in Malaysia and raised in Australia, recently purchased a home in Los Angeles. While such a big-ticket outlay can stress most buyers, Wan found working on the house to be rejuvenating. Saying that he needed "to pursue other interests and get my emotions back," he took a two-year break from directing after his two big-studio efforts of 2007, Dead Silence and Death Sentence died at the box office.
He could afford the time off anyway. The Saw franchise, for which Wan has served as executive producer on all six sequels, earned nearly $416 million domestically and $870.5 million in theaters worldwide. Wan was hailed as a leader of the new "Splat Pack" because of the blood that spilled from the series' wacky torture scenarios.
The gore isn't nearly as gory in Insidious. In fact, Wan declares that not one pinprick of plasma pours forth. He relies more on psychological tension in his story of a comatose boy caught in a custody battle of sorts between his parents (Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne) and some nasty spirits in another realm called the Further. It's a spin on the the haunted-house genre -- only it isn't the house that's haunted.
Wan and Saw co-creator and writer Leigh Whannell returned to their shoestring-budget roots. The cost to make Insidious was actually less than the first Saw, which was $1.2 million, the director said. It's no accident that some of the publicity for the movie emphasizes that the creators of Saw and Paranormal Activity (Insidious producer Oren Peli) were behind the project. Both movies scared up big profits out of small production coffers. In lean times, monster budgets for horror movies scare only the backers.
"If you do it right," Wan said, "a lot of the time you don't need a lot of money."