Editing Alchemist Andrew Coutts

 Renowned film director David Fincher (Gone Girl, The Social Network, Zodiac) said in an article published by Den of Geek,“The best editors are alchemists. They’re equal parts poet and blacksmith. They can forge something – they make pieces go together that should never work. They can take footage that was intended for one thing, and use it to illuminate a whole new idea in a sequence that you maybe never conceived.” We couldn’t agree more.

Andrew Coutts
Editor Andrew Coutts

A film editor is a vital force in bringing the stories audiences see on the screen to life. Not only are they responsible for selecting the right shots and sequences out of hundreds, and sometimes, thousands of hours of footage, but they also decide the timing and pace of the story that unfolds before us.

Continually executing the aforementioned in a way that is seamless and virtually unnoticeable by the audience, the work of Canadian editor Andrew Coutts procures him a place among the world’s best editors. An alchemist in his own right, some of Coutts’ film work as an editor includes Saw V, Saw VI, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, The Day, Nurse 3D, Altergeist, The Man Who Loved Flowers, Sequence, Anguish, Blood Sucking Bastards, Grizzly, 10:17, and the series Sleepy Hollow, The Line, Hungry, and more.

Andrew Coutts was the editor of the horror film Saw VI, the sixth installment of the seven-part Saw franchise. The film, which grossed an impressive $68,233,629 at the box office internationally, was nominated for two Most Memorable Mutilation Awards at the Scream Awards in 2010 for “The Pound of Flesh Trap” and “The Needle Trap” scenes.

“I had a lot of fun cutting the traps on the saw films, since they tend to be pretty visually intense and you can try some pretty fun techniques in editing as part of the scenes, jump cuts, flash frames, using off-speed camera ramps,” recalled Coutts.

Visually intense is a light description of the traps in Saw VI, they were down right horrifying, but after all that is the point. The way Coutts combines jarring sound effects and swift cuts during the film’s traumatic torture scenes effectively heighten the intensity to the point of making your heart feel like it might just jump out of your chest. The opening pound of flesh scene where Jigsaw’s most recent victims, Simone and Eddie, race the clock to see who will cut of the most flesh in order to survive is so frightening that I actually had to close my eyes at a point, and even then, the fluctuation and rapidity of the sound effects intermixed with the actors’ screams was enough to keep me squirming in my seat.

Coutts, who has been working as an editor for over 15 years, is above all passionate about bringing stories to life and he views editing as a powerful means for evoking reactions in his audience. “Whether it’s a tension filled horror scene where through editing and pacing we’ve built suspense and shock the audience with a scare moment, or putting together poignant performances from the actors that resonates emotionally with the audience, or a heart pounding action scene that is an exciting thrill ride, it’s all of these moments in editing that I love,” said Coutts.

Coutts also served as the lead editor on the final film in the Saw franchise, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter. The film grossed $136,150,434 at the box office internationally and was nominated for another Most Memorable Mutilation Award at the Scream Awards, this time for the “Reverse Bear Trap” scene, as well as an award in the horror movie category at the Teen Choice Awards. Once again Coutts used his exceptional eye as an editor to create a terrifying sequence of shots that was further intensified by the 3D element in the film.

“One of the biggest challenges on this film was finding a way to introduce 3D on both a creative and technical level into the already strongly stylistic Saw world. Shooting and editing a film in 3d brings certain requirements for brighter lighting and slower cutting than the Saw films typically had,” explained Coutts. “Working with the director and cinematographer we had to find a way to push the limits of 3D as far as we could to bring it as close in line as we could with the previous films looks.”

Putting his unparalleled talents as a horror editor on display, there is no doubt about it, Andrew Coutts nailed the mark on both Saw VI and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, and we can not wait to see what he has in store for us next.

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