Horror Film Director


Posted on June 9th, by Darren Lynn Bousman in blog, What They Don't Teach You in Film School. 24 comments

So, hopefully by now you have read my first two posts. If you have not… STOP READING and do a little catch up.



Okay, up to speed?

So… In a matter of months, I went from folding clothes to securing a lawyer and agents… (somewhere in between I directed the first stage production of the amazing smash hit REPO! The Genetic Opera)

I guess I was ignorant… Some would argue I still am ignorant. But I thought with my lawyer and agents in place my luck had turned, and suddenly people would give me the time of day.


I had a cool script… Some great coverage… but so does my nextdoor neighbor, and his best friend, and his boss, and that guy’s uncle.

My reps went out with the script. When you go ‘out’ with a script, you pick a day, in our case Monday. We made a list of every company who we think would actually like a script like this, and then deliver them all at the exact same time.

The hope is that you start a bidding war. If Company A says they like the script and then Company B says they like the script you use them against each other.

In my case there was no bidding war. In fact, the majority of everyone passed on the script. Too dark, too violent, too terribly written, blah blah blah…

My towering high – suddenly sank to a thunderous low.

Then a phone call came in… A private equity guy, who for the purposes of this blog shall be named CAPTAIN DOUCHE BAG, had read the script and loved it. He wanted to finance the ENTIRE movie. And, more importantly, he would let me direct.

As you could guess… I was through the roof…

My first phone call, my mother. I had her and my dad get on the phone together as I broke the fantastic news. I sold a script, and I was going to direct it!!!!

My mother cried, my dad grunted (that’s what my dad does) – and all was right in the universe…

For the first time, in a long time, I was happy… Genuinely happy… I was going to be a director…


Okay, class, get your pens out, and take this note…

99.9 percent of the time, DEALS FALL THROUGH. You will meet a number of people in your career that will promise you:

“I have money!”

“I can get to Robert De Niro”

blah blah blah SHUT YOUR FACE.

The reality is, even now, with a some what reputable career, the majority of projects I am involved with far apart… Go away… they stop calling… etc… This is the business.  The majority of my day is filled with rejection.

In the case of Captain Douche Bag, I am not sure he actually ever intended on making the movie… In the end, it seemed like the only thing he ended up producing was an endless cycle of unobtainable requests…

In a short matter of months… I was back to where I started… A script that no one wanted to make…

I continued to work at a talent management company called THE FIRM. I had the illustrious job of dubbing videotapes…

Once again, my rage built, my anger grew, and I became bitter…

It was a terrible day having to call my mom and break her heart, telling her the deal fell through… She cried, my dad grunted, (that’s what my dad does) and I became a zombie…

In the next few months, I would stumble across many more ‘equity’ guys claiming to make my dream come true… Each, and every time, they all proved to be ass clowns.

Each time my hopes would rise… and each time, we would part ways with me getting kicked in the balls…

The ol’ groin stomp… A feeling I began to embrace… That is what my life became… Waiting to get fucked…

My time was running out… My bank account was running out… And the patience of those around me was running out.

Days dragged on…

The Firm, my day job became my new J CREW. I was a failure…

Then I snapped… Had a breakdown…

…or a stroke of genius, depending on how you look at it.

I was in one of the weekly Monday meetings at THE FIRM. In these meetings, all the managers get together and talk about their clients and their upcoming projects. My job, during these meetings was to be invisible. I was to sit in the back, with my mouth shut, and if there was an audio/video problem during the course of the meeting, I was to FIX IT.  I was a DUB ROOM operator.

At the time, The Firm was a powerhouse. They repped the biggest of the big. Sorsese, DiCapro, De Niro, Hoffman, Korn, Linkin Park, Dixie Chicks, etc…

During this particular meeting, I was doing my job at being invisible, while the managers discussed upcoming projects. One of the managers stood up to discuss the plan with their band STATIC-X. The managers all decided that they needed to shoot a music video for the band, and needed to do it on the cheap.

I’ll DO IT!

Who said that? Everyone in the room turned, kind of dumbfounded… I too turned… Then I realized it was ME who said it…

I stood up.

I’ll do their video.

While I do not know this for sure, I look back on that moment and am pretty sure security was being called, or inches away from being called…

The president of the company, a guy by the name of Jeff Kwatinetz, looked up.

“I’m sorry, who are you?”

No one knew who I was, remember, I am suppose to be invisible.

“I work in the dub room.”

My boss, the guy I reported to, was having a mild seizure, and he tried to pull me down, and shut me up.

The whole room, all 50 some managers were all deadlocked on me.

“Listen, I work in the dub room, I also went to film school. I have a 35mm film camera, lighting and grip package, and will do everything for free… In fact, I will pay for everything.”

Side note… Once again I lied… I DID NOT have a camera package, nor lighting or grip… I REALLY didn’t have any money to pay for shit.

Silence… One could hear a mouse fart in this room…

The next words pretty much changed my life.

“Come see me after this meeting…”

Either I was about to get fired… or this was my first real directing job… either way, it would be a step forward from where I was in that point of my life…

Seconds passed like hours as I waited for that meeting to end…

I am pretty sure that the mailroom started a back room gambling operation about if I was going to be fired or promoted…  The over unders started…

The meeting ended, I was met with cold dead eyes from everyone as they exited the room…

And then something magical happened… Jeff Kwatinetz gave me the music video…

Was it really THAT simple? Was the answer in front of me all this time, and I was just too dumb or lazy to realize it…

I wanted to be a director… I had my FIRST directing assignment. One that I would have to pay for… and arrange, and DEAR GOD how the hell am I going to pull this out of my ass?!


I once read a story about a guy who traded a paper clip for a house, all through craigslist. It was as simple as here is a paper clip, give me a house. It took him a year, he had to keep trading up, and eventually got a house… Well, if that dude can do it, I surely can….Right?

Well, not really… BUT, I was able to sell almost everything I owned on craiglist and come up with about $3,000.

Using that $3,000 I called in EVERY single favor I had accumulated (which was not a lot), and two weeks later had a music video…


About a week after the music video aired on MTV, my phone rang… It was my lawyer.

“Darren, we got a guy who wants to make THE DESPERATE… He’s real, really has the money, and really likes the script…”

I had learned by this point to not get excited… So, taking a page out of my father’s book, I grunted, agreed to meet with him.
On the drive hometo my shitty studio apartment in North Hollywood I realized I didn’t have a cent to my name… I had sold almost everything I owned… But I didn’t care… I was a director… and what is art without sacrifice?

Stay tuned for part 4 – THE DESPERATE into SAW.

*If you like these blogs, help me get them out there! Link them up… Post them on facebook, tell a friend… Post a comment below!

24 thoughts on “LIFE LESSONS PART 3

  1. (I like your custom CAPCHA images, by the way.)
    I have a question. Had you always wanted to direct specifically horror and slasher films, or do you branch out if and when the opportunity presents itself?

  2. I’m loving this series of posts more and more. As a teen filmmaker, just beginning in the college/film school stage of my life, it’s great to see what possibly lies ahead. Thanks Darren!

  3. It’s funny how sometimes in life you just gotta go for broke – literally – and you actually might end up lucky on the other side. I respect the hell out of you for that, man 😉

  4. I love this blog series. You motivate me to get things done. To move forward and push myself to get where I want to be. Keep on writing! Can’t wait til part 4!

  5. Darren,
    Love the blogs (and Repo! [Shiloh FTW]) I just need to figure out how to use your packing peanut idea to get website contracts! As Im currently a freelance freshman in college web developer.

  6. While I love this blog series and honestly respect the hell out of Darren and can say I’ve seen every movie he’s done in a theater…these blogs make me feel as if I’m never going to “make it.”. Ugh…

  7. Brilliant, simply brilliant…. each post keeps you wanting more, reading faster, taking in mental notes to remember, whilst quickly (and sadly) coming to an end – it leaves you wanting part 4 even more!

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