Horror Film Director


Posted on June 26th, by Darren Lynn Bousman in blog, general, news, THE DEVIL'S CARNIVAL, What They Don't Teach You in Film School. 24 comments

If you are following me on any social networking sites, odds are you have seen the countless pictures I have been posting from The Vans Warped Tour.


Last week, Emilie Autumn and I, with about 15 others, set off on the road for an incredible journey that no series of photos can accurately define.  What started out as an experiment turned to an EXPERIENCE and ended in an adventure of discovery, friendship, and more importantly, inspiration.



Inspiration is my fuel… It is what makes me tick.  It is the gas pedal that moves the vehicle forward getting me from point A to B.  Sadly, as of late however, inspiration has been lacking from my life. Over the last few years, the industry that I love so much has changed for me.  Politics have taken over creativity.  Arguments have turned to battles, battles to war.  In short, I have become disillusioned with the artistic process.

It has become a blood soaked battlefield.


 The last movie I was attached to started and shut down numerous times, thus shattering my confidence and passion.   Worse yet, it wasn’t fun.  The entire experience of creating was cumbersome and overwrought.  The moment a creative thought was placed on the table it was then poked, prodded, and devoured by a group of producers, financiers and sales agents, so by the time anything was “approved” it had no semblance of an original thought, or voice.

I didn’t even recognize it.  I found myself becoming a monster… Every day, more angry… every night, more bitter… I was caught in a toxic loop that sucked dry any inspiration I once had to create “art”.

Worse yet, I was defeated.  And nothing is more dangerous than feeling broken down and defeated.


2013 was a dark time for me… I felt creatively bankrupt, powerless, and enraged.  What was more concerning was nothing seemed to break through the shell that was surrounding me.  I moved through the year like a zombie.


There is an idea of a Darren Bousman; some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable… I simply am not there.

Nothing seemed to move me… I would go to the movies and walk out unengaged.  I went to concerts and left underwhelmed.   I was detached, emotionally. I would watch, absently, as the movies and concerts I went to were interrupted by people buried in their smartphones, texting… calling… tweeting, instead of being present.  No one was ever in the moment… They were already on to the NEXT moment.



Laura saw what was happening to me, and planned a trip to New York.  She was filming a documentary and needed interviews, so we turned it into a mini vacation.   (Highly recommend checking out the sizzle reel for my Laura’s Documentary on the Young Playwrights Festival https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2D4jIoKg1s)

I consider this trip the one that saved my life in a way.  While in New York, we purchased tickets to SLEEP NO MORE.

I could write an entire blog on SLEEP NO MORE.  Hell, an entire book, but do yourselves a favor and research it on your own.  Better yet, go to New York and experience it for yourselves. In short, SLEEP NO MORE is an immersive, interactive theatrical production.  What this means is you are responsible for what you see.  There is no stage, or right way to view the production; you run around multiple stories of a warehouse ALONE, and try to figure out what is transpiring around you.  It’s ethereal, beautiful, and amazing.

One of the major aspects of SLEEP NO MORE is the masks you have to wear.  The masks separate you from the actors, and in a sense, make you invisible.  Part of the idea of SLEEP NO MORE is the ability to do whatever you want.  You can follow an actor, or not… You can sit in one place, or run through the over 100 environments.   All of this is done in complete anonymity; you are nothing more than MASK. picstitch When I went to SLEEP NO MORE the first time, what I was taken by more than anything was how moved I was by the performers.  There must have been over 400 audience members surrounding me, rushing from room to room, but there were moments when an actor would stop and connect with me.  Literally walk over and touch me… remove my mask and whisper something to me… or simply just make eye contact with me…

My dearest readers, when I exited SLEEP NO MORE, I was visibly shaken by what I had just experienced.  I was reminded that originality is still alive and well… I had been to 100 movies that year, maybe more… countless plays, and NOTHING had touched me more than this strange, unique experience… On the cab ride home I realized why.  I felt immersed in this world.  I felt apart of it.  I wasn’t sitting in the audience watching people act… I was standing next to them… Touching them… I was staring in their eyes, and they mine… There was a CONNECTION.   A real, tangible connection.


The Devil’s Carnival was my answer to what is wrong with movies today:  the loss of connection between filmmaker and audience member.  We toured The Devil’s Carnival in hopes of creating a bond between our fans and the movie we had made.  We wanted to turn the watching of our art into an EXPERIENCE. We constructed a preshow, audience interaction, and Q and A’s.  We wanted to immerse our audience and make going to the theatre an INTERACTIVE experience, not a passive one.


People thought we were crazy.  Why would you want to tour a movie?  Why would you want to spend that much time with needless preshows, and extra tidbits?

Just SHOW the movie… I think in part because TDC was my answer to the frustration I was feeling with entertainment.  Things were just becoming too damn commercialized.  There was no soul in the art.  It was almost PAINT BY NUMBERS, and for me, I was finding myself more and more isolated as an audience member.   I no longer felt connected to what I was viewing, and even worse… the art I was making. (11-11 anyone?)

On the road with CARNIVAL I felt not only inspired, but also empowered!  Fan’s CONNECTED to the experience… They came dressed as characters WE created…


They went out and INKED their body, branding our ideas on their limbs.



When I saw SLEEP NO MORE, it hit me like a freight train.  While what they were doing couldn’t be more different than THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL, there was a connection.  The interaction and connection with the audience.  The TDC ROADSHOW was not a passive moving-going venture, and SLEEP NO MORE was not a passive play.  In both cases you had to WORK for the experience… After SLEEP NO MORE all I could do was talk about SLEEP NO MORE.

I became obsessed.  So obsessed that I began to fly to all over the place to seek out other IMMERSIVE experiences, including THEN SHE FELL, THE ROOF, THE DROWNED MAN, BLACKOUT, DELUSION, etc.


 Nothing else in my creative life seemed to matter.   I had begun to feel the inspiration that had been lacking for the last two years.


Emilie Autumn is one of best friends.


Her talent is something I am in awe of.  I watch her work and scratch my head.  Most of her fans know her from her music, and while she is a FANTASTIC musician, her talents go FAR above and beyond the songs she creates.

My love for Emilie has made me somewhat obsessed with her, hence casting in her two of my films (about to be a third).


One late afternoon Emilie and I were sitting around talking, and we were discussing about her show.  For those who have never been, Emilie’s shows are pretty damn amazing.  It’s like a full on production with a narrative story, props, costumes, and audience interaction.


A lightbulb went off over our heads… Let’s turn her show into an EXPERIENCE.

Something wholly unique, something organic to who she is, but something that requires you not be passive… You MUST be active to unlock it. Let’s give the fans a REASON to leave the house… Let’s give them something to show how important they truly are, something that will empower them…


In less than a month, an idea became a reality.  The ASYLUM EXPERIENCE was born, a full on immersive interactive concert.


With the help of Marc Senter (TDC’s The Scorpion), Laura Bousman, and a handful of others, we put together performers, crew, props, costumes… an entire world.


We rehearsed… we packed our bags… we jumped on a bus, we left…


The Warped Tour was our venue… They had asked Emilie to put on a show, and instead, we sold them an environment.  An environment in which any body could come and interact, and unlock personal interactions from the performers, and even Emilie herself…


Our goal was to do something unique, something that would directly connect with her fans.  We wanted to do something that touched the participants, and required more of them than just “watching” a concert.

We didn’t want to bring them into our world… we wanted to create one with them.


Every morning at 7am, we arrived in a new city, and we started building.  Tents, cages, a stage.  We unloaded props and wardrobe, and over the course of four hours, we constructed a universe for us all to play in.


The actors took their places, and became one with their surroundings.   This was no longer a concert… this was THE ASYLUM.

The idea was BREAK the forth wall…


I watched as people poured into this world and became engaged.  I watched the faces of these participants. They were moved…  They were excited… but more importantly, they were actually there… IN THE MOMENT, their faces were not buried in their cellphones.  They were present… They interacted… They became ACTIVE.


This wasn’t a show confined to a STAGE – the stage was EVERYWHERE… On the grass, inside cages, immersed amongst the fans…



I wanted to be involved in this for very a very selfish reason.  This was for me… I needed this personally.  I needed to see it was still possible to create something out of the box.  I needed to see we still have the power to connect with our fan base.  I needed to prove that entertainment CAN be created without bureaucracy and people standing in the way.

I needed to be involved with something I found cool.  I found engaging… I needed to do this for me.


I needed THE ASYLUM to remind me what can be accomplished when artists get together for ART and not commerce… I needed the ASLYUM to inspire me, and connect me back into wanting to create something important… something that touches, engages, and moves…


I spent two years stuck in void of creativity fighting to make art… It took only two weeks to remind me once again the power we have to connect to one another.

Standing in 103 degree heat, looking around at what was being created, I felt something… something I hadn’t felt in a very long time… Inspiration.  The world Emilie created and allowed me to be part of was nothing short of life saving.



The Warped Tour was a success, and so now we begin the task of taking the small idea of the ASYLUM EXPERIENCE and building upon it.  Making it bigger.  Making it better.  We will return soon to reopen the doors to new fans.

But first, at long last… another world is in need of my attention.


It is with great pleasure that I can officially announce we are in active PREPRODUCTION for THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL: Episode 2.  We begin production in just a few short weeks.

Screen shot 2014-06-23 at 9.00.34 AM

Locations are locked… Casting is underway… It took us two years, but we are back… stronger than ever.  Last night Terrance Zdunich and Saar Hendelman sent me the first updated scratch track for TDC #2.  I laid in my bed for an hour with it on repeat, smiling…

In last two years, I have made some questionable choices, I look back on now and regret… I allowed myself to enter into a toxic relationship with my art…


Part of the excitement of falling off the path is the journey to find it again…

The future has a lot of great things in store… What say you?


24 thoughts on “ENTERING THE ASYLUM

  1. I’m so happy to see you back. I am a great fan of yours both
    creatively and artistically. These low points HAPPEN to ANYBODY, and
    finding passion and love again is one of the most difficult thing. I
    attended the first Devil’s Carnival and was totally in awe of not just
    the film, but what you were doing, speaking out at the film industry,
    connecting with your audience.

    I look forward to
    hopefully gaining an opportunity to attend the Asylum Experience as well
    as The Devil’s Carnival, and any other future endeavor that you strive
    to create.

    You are a fabulous director… probably far
    more than you know. As someone who works to create her own audio dramas.
    You are MY inspiration. Your work and getting to connect with you in
    the reality of your blog writings here inspires me to keep pushing

    So, journey forward and make something great.

  2. I hope to see the Asylum Experience reach far and wide! I would’ve loved to have been there!

    I’m glad to see you finally inspired once more, I understand the muck of being uninspired and bored. Glad to know you feel the inspiration once more!

    Can’t wait for the future.

  3. Oh shit I’m in this article. Lmfao. I was the clown in red in Phoenix AZ for the Devils Carnival Tour. I’m glad you found your inspiration again. I know it’s difficult when you feel like your running a losing race. But that shot of power you get when the fans react and you feel pride in your work once more is wonderful. Glad to see you well. ^_^

  4. I attended warped tour to be a part of the Asylum Experience and it was inspiring. I have been to multiple EA concerts (All of which I adore), but this was truly an amazing experience. Being a part of something that I connect to on such an emotional level moved me, I cannot give any words that can even compare to how I feel about my experience. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping create the Asylum Experience. I am very excited for TDC #2 as well!!! I am glad you have found inspiration again, TDC, EA, The Asylum are what I draw inspiration from myself. You all mean so much to me. Also, I will have to go see Sleep No More, it sounds phenomenal!

    ~Stevi Goletto

  5. I wish I could be part of TDC.. I love what you have done and how you go about being there for the fans

  6. i say thank you for finding your way back, hollywood is sucking the life out of creation, we need you and people like to keep fighting, keep creating and keep bringing us out of our dreary little world and showing us there is more out there than what *they* are willing to allow HAIL TDC2

  7. First i love ourRat queen Emilie Autumn and always will and i only wish i could have been there at warped tour tour this year. After meeting Emilie and the bloody crumpets last year my life literally changed for the best. Ican’twait for TDC and i know it will be fucking amazing! I have faith that you and Emilie and everyone who creates amazing worlds like the asylum and the carnival will keep doing great things. Love you guys!

  8. I really hope to see one day the Asylum Experience in France, thought it’s not likely going to happen. I am becoming more and more curious about it as a big fan of Emilie Autumn and of the Devil’s Carnival.

    I also really look forwards the day people will see the Devil’s Carnival as a new Rocky Horror Picture Show and starts playing it and singing it in front of an audience and interract with them. that would be great.

  9. The Asylum Experience was the most awesome thing I’ve seen. Thank you so much for your input and for helping to make it happen! You are awesome, you’ve actually given me loads of inspiration and lightened my life. I was too shy to say anything to you when I saw you walking around, but I hope you know that it was awesome, moving, horrifying disturbing, overwhelming, &c… I will definitely be at the next Devil’s Carnival tour, a 100% renewed, #1 muffin!!!!

  10. So excited to read about your journey back to inspiration! But I’d be lying if I pretended there wasn’t some selfishness in my gladness for you…I want that new Devil’s Carnival, haha. I’ve been waiting eagerly for TDC:2 since you hooked me with episode 1, and I’m thrilled to see you’re in a place where you’re charged and excited for it. Good things are coming…

    Also, I freakin’ loved 11-11-11. I don’t know if that was one you were disappointed in, but it’s one of my favorite horror movies. For what that’s worth.

  11. I am beyond ecstatic to hear that TDC2 is in the making! I have seen the first quite a few times and love it to bits. I am terribly disappointed that The Asylum Experience never made it up to me, since I was following the adventures as best as Facebook would allow, and it looked simply amazing. I hope to see more of both your work and Emilie’s in the near future. Your creative works are wonderful and bring me so much joy (and a lot of geeking out).

  12. I’m disappointed I didn’t get to see the asylum especially since watching tdc 1 I have become such a huge fan of Emilie to the point where I compiled my favorite songs of hers on YouTube and that was what I would use to fall asleep to, and I even played it during the day simply because I felt so engaged with it. TDC inspired me again to follow my passion of the arts instead of listening to others saying I should do something more mundane (I wish to become a forensic photographer, I’d be taking pictures of dead bodies and crime scenes when I get my associates degree.). Even though I had to drive for days in a car with someone I hated the simple pleasure of being able to see TDC in Reno was one of the greatest experiences of my life and it will continue to be, it entrapped me and led me into the carnival itself. I am very pleased that you as well have gotten your passion back and I hope you continue to make all of us apart of the very show itself.

  13. I hope Sean Patrick Flanery is in this again and please tell me you will be filming somewhere near Palm Springs

  14. I am thoroughly excited about TDC2! Though I am a bit disappointed that y’all did not come out to the east coast for the asylum. I am glad that you found yourself once again. The carnival would not be the same without you! See you soon!

  15. This entire entry makes me so happy. I am beyond ecstatic that Episode 2 of “TDC” is coming on our way, but even more excited that you have found your inspiration again. I like to think of myself as an “aspiring artist”, and there are days where I am so devoid of any inspiration or creative bone in my body that I just feel like giving up. Bravo to you, and congratulations to the rest of the cast and crew! I absolutely CANNOT wait to see this new project.

  16. I am so happy that you found inspiration! I can’t wait to see you guys again on the next TDC tour. We’ll give you plenty of participation and interaction… Trust Me.

  17. I was at the WARPED tour. I dressed in a “male wayward victorian girl” costume (very femme 🙂 ). i bused from El Paso Texas to AZ and met my new BFFs there (fellow plague rats). it was AMAZING. i got a sticker and pre-show hug from veronica who is even sweeter than you’d think, had my fortune told. when the show began, the evil dr. stockhill had his men throw poor Emilie to the ground. she reached up for the first hand that was there…mine. i lifted her with one tug. later Maggot went crazy and ran around babbling. since i have a major crush on her. i followed and handed her an Oxynite ring i got at an art crawl in my home town. we ran about babbling dancing and feeding each other crumbs. later she autographed my old Opheliac tour flyer. did i mention basil gave me a postcard (MADE BY EA) after collecting 3 crumpets. a man in shades gave my parched mom a bottle of water. it was marc senter. we talked. he told me he had friends in el paso “a cool, weird place” he called it (it is). he called me a good man, lets mom sit in the fortune teller chair, gave me info on TDC 2 and where to find his indie movies (netflix). and i had an all around great time. i even high fived you Darren i said “dude i loved the devils carnival” you casually but kindly said thanks. afterwards the actors said i did an awesome job. they said i should act for a living (if only they knew 🙂 ). it was worth the sunburn. I’m set travel to hell and back to see whatever you or the Admiral do next including the TDC road tour where i’ll shadowcast as the scorpion. i’m a small time writer/actor/filmmaker. i know how off-pissing it can be when shit falls through. but i live an learn and i’m a better artist for it. i’m currently working on a script for a horror flick called HELL BROKE LOOSE (yes one character will be a major plague rat) thank you giving me a day i’ll never forget for the rest of my life. you did good with the asylum experience. keep ’em flyin’ DLB.

    P.S. did i mention that all this happened ON MY BIRTHDAY (SCORE!)

  18. Your humanity shines through in this post. It’s nice to see that even great artists like yourself are continuing to improve, and refuse to let the world be a bunch of re-makes and Call of Duty sequels! Keep stickin’ it to the man!

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