All of the bathroom scenes were shot in chronological order to make the actors feel what the characters were going through.
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According to the DVD commentary, director James Wan pointed out that many of the scare scenes in the film were nightmares he and Leigh Whannell had as kids.
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The entire film was filmed in 18 days.
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Saw II (2005) was approved for production the weekend this film opened.
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Director James Wan took a gamble and took no "upfront" salary for the film and opted for a percentage instead.
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Director James Wan did not intend to make what was later referred to as a torture porn film. It was not until the sequels that the films got what he describes as "more explicitly nasty."
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The film's pre-production was only five days. It was shot and cut at the same time in eighteen days (all of the bathroom scenes were shot in six days). The actors had absolutely no rehearsals. The rehearsal takes were actual footage for the film.
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According to BBC, this is one of the most profitable horror films of all time.
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Director James Wan built the Jigsaw doll for the film.
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Director James Wan wanted the camera movements to reflect the two main characters' emotions and personality. He filmed Dr. Gordon with steady controlled shots and Adam as handheld shots to capture their emotions of the situation.
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The film was originally intended for a straight-to-video release. After positive screenings, it was given the nod to become a premier film.
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The film's screenplay was written in 2001 as a calling card for director James Wan and Leigh Whannell trying to break into Hollywood. They shot a low-budget short based on a scene in the film, and this proved successful enough to attract the attention of Evolution Entertainment. They immediately formed a horror genre arm called Twisted Pictures and gave Wan and Whannell a small budget.
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Directors James Wan and Leigh Whannell wanted to make a film after they finished film school, but they could only afford one room. However, they challenged themselves to create a film that only occured in one room. "Saw" was the product, and it was considered one of the most profitable and successful horror films of all time.
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Casting director Amy Lippens chose her ex-husband for the role of Mark.
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In post-production, director James Wan discovered that he did not have enough shots or takes to fill out most of his scenes, so he and editor Kevin Greutert created their own filler shots by doctoring some of them to make them look as if they were filmed through a surveillance camera.
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The car chase was filmed in the garage of the warehouse by turning off the lights, adding some fog, and shaking the cars while filming from the front.
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Jigsaw's puppet was completely made from scratch by the film's creators (it was not bought at a store or a puppet that was altered).
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Leigh Whannell came up with idea of giving John Kramer a brain tumor while spending time in a neurology ward for anxiety and headaches. He said that undergoing numerous tests and expecting bad news made him reflect on his own mortality. He used this experience in creating a character who had only a few years to live.
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In October 2014 the film was re-released to select theaters for one week, honoring its 10th anniversary.
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Shawnee Smith originally turned the role of Amanda down. After it was offered to her a second time, she watched the original short film by Leigh Whannell and James Wan, and accepted the role.
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The scene in which Dr. Gordon turns off the lights and whispers to Adam was written differently in the script. The characters were to cut open opposite ends of a long pipe with their hacksaws and speak through it. This sequence was actually shot but later cut, because director James Wan decided that the characters being able to cut through a pipe made no sense if they could not cut through their chains.
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Danny Glover completed all of his scenes in just two days.
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According to an interview with Leigh Whannell, Adam and Lawrence were originally going to be trapped in an elevator.
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Producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg stated that Shawnee Smith was battling a terrible case of the flu, complete with a fever of 104 degrees, while shooting her scenes.
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Both the black and white and forensic photos shown in the film were taken by the production still photographer, and they were used as a last minute resort while editing the film.
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Leigh Whannell mentioned in the DVD commentary that the scene where his character plunges his hand down a filthy toilet is a tribute to Danny Boyle's Trainspotting (1996).
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There were no exterior shots in the film because the production team could not afford them.
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The film contains many references to the films of Italian horror and giallo director Dario Argento. The creepy painted puppet is a reference to Argento's Deep Red (1975), while the unseen killer's black gloves are one of Argento's trademarks and can be seen in almost all of his films.
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Charlie Clouser had just three weeks to compose the score for the film.
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Cary Elwes filed a lawsuit against the producers and the production company because he only received a nominal salary with backend revenues. He claimed to have been promised 1% of the profit, which would be considerable since "Saw" (2004) went on to earn over $100 million globally. The case was finally settled out of court, but mostly as a result of the disagreements, and Elwes chose not to be involved with any of the sequels until Saw: The Final Chapter (2010).
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The glow-in-the-dark "X" painted on the wall, in the scene when the lights turned off, was in fact a light projection of an "X" shape.
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Shots cut in the R-rated version, according to directors James Wan and Leigh Whannell, included ones of Amanda sifting through the intestines, Paul struggling through the razor wire, and some forensic ones. The color was made more even and the sound was altered because the MPAA had problems with the tone of the original cut shown in Sundance.
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This is the only "Saw" film not to be filmed in Toronto, Ontario.
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The MPAA originally rated the film NC-17, due to the film's tone. Director James Wan had to remove some content to secure an R rating.
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According to the DVD commentary, casting agent Amy Lippens asked director James Wan who he wanted to play the character of Amanda. On a whim, Wan suggested Shawnee Smith, who he had had a crush since his teen years. He was surprised when Lippens came back a few days later and told him that they had secured her for the role.
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To help sell his concept for the film, Leigh Whannell shot a scene in which he appears to be ensnared in a bear trap. There were no visual effects involved and he actually had to place the teeth of the rusty bear trap in his mouth to make it seem real.
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Sundance showed the NC-17 uncut version of this film. The actual theatrical R-rated version was cut and more finessed, and the sound and colors were evened.
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Leigh Whannell performed his own stunt underwater during the opening scene in the bathtub. He stayed underwater by having a crew member stand on his chest.
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Director James Wan and editor Kevin Greutert had trouble editing the film, as they did not have enough shots they wanted and had difficulties editing some scenes, including Dr. Gordon listening to his tape and the detectives in Dr. Gordon's office, the first time they meet.
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Principal photography was done in a converted warehouse. The bathroom set was built, while the other locations were existing rooms redressed.
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Detective Kerry states that Jigsaw technically isn't a murderer, that he finds ways for his victims to kill themselves. She is right, he technically never killed anyone himself. However he could have still been charged with second degree murder for each of his victims that died. In the United States there is a statute that allows someone to be charged with murder even if they didn't actually intend to kill someone. Normally, if someone's reckless actions unintentionally cause a person's death, they are charged with involuntary manslaughter. However, when someone's actions go beyond reckless and they do something that puts another person in a situation where their death is a likely outcome, they are doing what is known as "showing a depraved indifference to human life". It's called depraved indifference murder. By putting his victims in a situation where the likely outcome will be their death, Jigsaw would have been charged with multiple counts of second degree murder under that statute, if he had been apprehended.
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Directors James Wan and Leigh Whannell had tried to sell their script to studios in Melbourne, Australia, before a Hollywood studio bought and produced the film.
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The opening scene of Adam in the bathtub with the blue light floating over him was the very first shot of the first day of filming.
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Detective Sing pursuing the Jigsaw Killer was the last sequence to be filmed.
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This was the closing film for the Toronto Film Festival.
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The detectives track down a fire alarm to a warehouse on "Stygian Street". "Stygian" is the name of James Wan's first film, which also starred Leigh Whannell.
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Leigh Whannell and Cary Elwes had to saw lightly in the scenes when trying to cut their chains because both hacksaws were sensitive, therefore could easily break.
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The surveillance camera footage of Adam and Dr. Gordon was shot separately and spliced together during post-production, which is the reason for the strange angle of the two characters in the footage.
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Director James Wan and Leigh Whannell wrote the script and submitted it to their manager. The manager then sent it to an agent in Los Angeles, who summoned the two of them for a meeting. They were encouraged to shoot a scene from the script as a short film; they shot the scene with the "Reverse Bear Trap", with Leigh Whannell in the trap instead of Shawnee Smith. After shooting the scene, they submitted the scene to numerous studios; this resulted in being hired by Lionsgate Films.
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The cloak Jigsaw wears in the film is actually turned inside out.
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According to James Wan, the construction of Billy the Puppet's face for "Saw" involved clay, papier-mâché, and black ping pong balls with the irises painted in for the eyes. Paper towel rolls were used internally. To make him move, the puppeteers pulled him along on a fishing line. For "Saw II"(2005), Billy was redesigned with mechanical features that could be manipulated by a remote control, including his unhinged jaw and his eyes. For "Saw III" (2006), the prop crew was given the original puppet, but found it unfit for work, as time had damaged it. Instead, they recreated Billy, using waterjet-cut foam for his body instead of fiberglass, equipped with plates to hold the puppet together and magnets to attach him to his tricycle. The back of his head was removable, to make it easier to slide animatronic pieces in. For "Saw IV" (2007), the prop crew made the body of waterjet-cut foam, held together by metal rods. They used strong magnets to make a flat rear for the puppet, so it could be easily positioned on any metal surface. The resin-filled ping pong ball eyes were moved with a remote control, as was the mouth.
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The map used by Detectives Tapp and Sing, when reviewing the locations of fire alarm reports, is a map of Washington, D.C.
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According to Leigh Whannell Zep (Michael Emerson) was originally going to perform strange acts with the underwear in Alison's dresser, but Leigh Whannell cut it out as he thought it was "a bit too far" and it was re-written. Instead Zep held a gun to Diana's head while he listened to her heart.
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Every scene was filmed in various buildings that were rented out to film crews. Many of the sets in the film were originally empty rooms, with props put in by the crew.
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According to the official "Saw" website, in a still image used in one of the flash scenes, Adam's last name is "Faulkner". However, it was revealed in Saw V (2008) that Adam's last name was "Stanheight", as indicated by a document observed by Agent Strahm.
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Tobin Bell lied face down for all of the scenes set in the bathroom; no dummy was used.
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James Wan originally wanted to shoot in 2.35:1 but due to budget restraints, had to stick with 1.85:1.
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Both Monica Potter (Allison) and Cary Elwes (Dr. Gordon) have previously appeared in film adaptations of the Alex Cross novels. Cary Elwes pirtrayed Detective Nick Ruskin in Kiss the Girls (1997), while Monica Potter portrayed Secret Service Agent Jexzie Flannigan in Along Came a Spider (2001).
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The identity of the Jigsaw Killer is revealed early in the film, during a flashback. When Zep (Michael Emerson) says, "He's a very interesting person", on John's hospital bedside table in front of him is a diagram of "The Reverse Bear Trap".
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After Amanda stabs her cellmate, the "guts" she searches through were actually pig uteruses.
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At the beginning of the film, Adam (Leigh Whannell) is informed via the cassette tape, that he must free himself from his chain, and escape the bathroom. Lawrence (Cary Elwes) is informed that if he does not complete his game, then he will be left to die in the bathroom. The opposite fates befall both characters at the end of the film.
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When Dr. Gordon begins sawing his foot off, Adam is heard screaming and crying in the background. His screaming and crying is the same one used from the very last scene during the final climax. The audio was edited and re-looped.
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Leigh Whannell and director James Wan confirmed that when Adam begins to smash Zep with the toilet lid, Leigh Whannell is actually hitting a garbage bag full of fake blood.
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Instead of "The Quadruple Shotgun Trap", the creators wanted a trap that consisted of two things that would spring from the walls and snap shut on Sing (Ken Leung) and fold him up into a box. They described it as an "iron cocoon." They decided against the idea, as it would have cost too much money for visual effects. The iron cocoon idea, however, was finally used in Saw: The Final Chapter (2010).
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The only dummy used in the film is the burned corpse of Mark, a man who burns to death. All other corpses were played by actors.
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In contrast to the majority of horror films, all the victims who die are men.
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As Lawrence is loading the cartridge into the revolver to shoot Adam, the camera briefly shows all six chambers of the cylinder to be empty. Revolvers don't eject spent cartridges, yet the man on the floor was supposed to have shot himself with the same gun. What looked to be a simple prop error is actually a subtle foreshadowing to the twist ending.
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In the scene where John is shown laying in the hospital bed, there is a small object in his hand. This object is the penlight stolen from Dr. Gordon, and it was later planted at Mark Wilson's game.
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"The Reverse Bear Trap" was also used in the original "Saw" short film, attached to a character named David. The scenario played out the same way as it does in this film, with David escaping the contraption a few seconds before it went off.
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It can be argued that John had intended for Adam to be able to escape from the room, but due to the actions of Amanda, he was prevented from it. In "Saw III" (2006), it is revealed that Amanda was the one who threw the key on his chest, instead of putting it in his pocket, hinting that she knew he would lose it.
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Directors James Wan and Leigh Whannell returned for several re-shoots, but the original actors were unavailable by that time. Whannell played the parts himself and Wan used close-up shots of the characters' bodies, avoiding showing their faces. Whannell played Detective Sing (Ken Leung) entering the building with a shotgun and the body of Sing falling down after being shot. Also, the close-up shots of Amanda's (Shawnee Smith's) hands in her torture and murder scene were Whannell's, and he wore a wig to make his shadow on the wall appear more like Shawnee's.
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Although "Hello Zepp" is considered one of the most famous scores in the film, the line is never actually uttered throughout the film. The misconception is mostly due to the fact, that this is the title of a song in the soundtrack, and is played during the final revelation scene. This piece of music became the series' trademark, and was used as the score for the final scenes, which included plot twists and a rapid montage of flashbacks. However, the real line is "Hello Mr. Hindle, or as they called you around the hospital: Zep."
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Not including the video game, Detective Tapp is the only major protagonist in the films who doesn't play Jigsaw's games nor does he die from Jigsaw's traps. He is shot and left for dead by Zep in the sewers for interfering with Gordon's game.
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This is the only "Saw" film where the two main characters are not in a trap but instead held captive. Compared to other characters, they are not in a trap (such as "The Reverse Bear Trap" and "The Razor Wire Maze"). They are held captive in a bathroom instead.
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Body Count: 6.
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Zep (Michael Emerson) claims that the patient, John, who is later revealed to be Jigsaw, is a "special" person. In the TV series "Lost" (2004), he also claims another person named John (John Locke) is a "special" person.
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The revolver found next to Jigsaw's "dead" body, which Dr. Gordon uses to shoot Adam with in the shoulder, is a Smith & Wesson Model 686.
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