Horror Film Director


Posted on June 21st, by Darren Lynn Bousman in blog, SAW, What They Don't Teach You in Film School. 8 comments

Originally I had planned on making this blog FOUR parts… But, after I started writing I realized that there was just too much to say… So I have expanded it into TWO more parts. PART V will be released next week, with a CONCLUSION to follow.


So after 5 years in Hollywood, countless packages of Ramen Noodles, and many drunken nights of crying myself to sleep, I had a MUSIC VIDEO on MTV, and more importantly I had a REAL producer, who REALLY wanted to make THE DESPERATE, or so I thought.

Grab your pen and take a note… NOTHING in Hollywood moves as fast as you want… Nothing…

While the producer was very much ‘legit,’ (or, as legit as one can be in Hollywood… or so I thought), I soon saw days turning into weeks, and weeks into months. Meeting after meeting after meeting about THE DESPERATE, but no real plan on actually MAKING The Desperate.

It wasn’t long before once again I found myself bitter and angry… Meetings consumed my days… Each one I went to I thought THIS IS IT… This will be the final meeting before we REALLY start shooting…

But we never really began shooting…. The finish line kept being moved further and further away. I began to question if this ‘producer’ could even produce me a cup of coffee.

And then something strange happened… One morning I woke up and ran out the door for my daily THE DESPERATE meeting, and the producer didn’t show…

I tried his cell phone and got a recording… “THE NUMBER YOU ARE CALLING IS NO LONGER IN SERVICE”

Dear God… please say this is not happening… Please tell me that I am getting punked…. I called again… and again I was greeted by the recording… “THE NUMBER YOU ARE CALLING IS NO LONGER IN SERVICE…”

I will never forget that moment… It was at that moment that I truly was ready to give up… Pack my bags, go back to Kansas, become a waiter, accept my fate at J CREW.

I came to find out that the ‘producer’ was a lot more shady than I had initially assumed. I guess I only wanted to see rainbows and kittens, and kept dismissing all the red flags he continually showed…

See this producer had ties to the ‘adult entertainment’ industry. He was trying to go legit… (note to all future filmmakers – when someone tells you they are trying to go legit, RUN AWAY) I guess he got in over his head on his last MATURE FEATURE FILM, and had a mini melt down – he split town, changed his number… blah blah blah SHIT….

I got a phone call from the douche some time later, apologizing. He told stories of family drama, stocks crashing, mid life crisis.

I was still working at The Firm… Still in the dub room… and once again, I began to feel DESPERATE.

Over the next few months various people would enter my life, claiming to be my salvation, claiming they wanted to make my movie, claiming they had money… All proved to be liars, cheats, and dead ends…

I continued to direct some more ‘spots’ for The Firm. I directed a Clay Aiken PSA, and even something for KORN.

I made a little money, but not enough to write home about…

Then an idea hit…

I was walking around, asking people to please give me money to make my movie…

No one in their right mind is just gonna hand some kid $1 million to go make a movie when all he has on his reel is a Static X video and a Clay Aiken PSA… Just not going to happen…

So fuck it, back to the refrigerator boxes and the singing telegrams… I needed to do something that would get me noticed… something that would show the world that THE DESPERATE would be amazing…

I would shoot a trailer… I would once again drain my bank account, and go shoot a trailer for what I wanted the movie to look like…

So I made a list of everything I would need…

The first thing that was SUPER important was a great DP. I needed this thing to look amazing.

And that my dear readers, was when a man walked into my life and rocked my world… (wait, that came out wrong).

One of the first people I met with was a guy named David Armstrong. David had just finished shooting a movie called sAW. Now, keep in mind, this is WELL before sAW was released. No one had even heard of sAW. David was looking for his next project, and at this point, still wasn’t well-known.

He came to THE FIRM to meet me… (that was where I took all my meetings — I would tell whomever I was meeting with that I was client there, not working in the dub room…) We sat and talked for about an hour. He loved my script, and told me it reminded him of sAW. This raised a red flag for me, as he was the third, or fourth person whom I had met who said THE DESPERATE reminded them of sAW.

After talking to me about my ‘vision’ for the film, David politely shook my hand, and asked if I minded if he showed my script to a friend of his. I of course agreed, and David went on his way…  He called me moments after our meeting, telling me he was driving my script over to a ‘producer’ friend of his.  He asked me to give him 24 hours.

But it only took two hours after the meeting for my phone to ring…

“Hello,” I said.

“Is this Darren?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Darren, I want you to do me a favor… I want you to come meet with me tomorrow morning…”

At this point in the call, I did not know who was on the other end… I was silent for a long while…. Then…

“Darren, I just read your script… David Armstrong gave it to me… I love it and want to make it…”

There was something about the way he said he wanted to make it. For some reason I believed him…

Up to this point, I had never signed a contract regarding The Desperate. I had no ties to anyone. Just a lot of people doing a lot of talking.

TAKE NOTE: The majority of people in Hollywood do one thing VERY well… Talk… Action, however, is a completely different beast.

ADVICE:  If you wanna be a filmmaker DON’T TALK ABOUT DOING IT – just do it… You want to make a short film – don’t talk about it… GO SHOOT IT.  There are way too many people who waste their time talking about what they plan on doing.  In my experience, those who make it – are the ones who don’t talk about it.  They just go out and fucking do it.

The next morning I drove to a little company in Hollywood called TWISTED PICTURES. Little did I know that by walking into that room, my life was about to change.

For the next two hours I sat in the office of Gregg Hoffman… Gregg found the first sAW script, and was in the middle of finding his ‘next’ big franchise. He immediately connected with The Desperate, and I immediately connected with him. It was a match made in horror heaven.

I left the meeting optimistic. This guy was no douche, Gregg was the real deal.

Within the week, Twisted Pictures bought my script.

That was all I needed… That was the sign I had been waiting for… I gave my two weeks at The Firm!  I was going to get to direct THE DESPERATE…. or so I thought.

At this point I am sure you are thinking the rest is history… Not so fast… This is where my real story begins… This is where I get laughed out of LGF. This is where I almost get fired just days before production… This is where it gets good.

Until next time…


8 thoughts on “LIFE LESSONS PART 4

  1. Of course I’d never think “the rest is History” yet I get yelled at for telling my detail stories! lol. Of course I ain’t famous like you.

    of course another thought is… after I call this casting director and she wants to meet with my “actor” she might notices the voices sound the same! lol. So I better do that in email I think.

    Of course the rest should be history. but then someone would learn what not to do. And Of course (too many of ocurses!) I am interested to find out why you weren’t going to be able to shoot it.

  2. Pingback: LIFE LESSONS: CONCLUSION « Darren Lynn Bousman

  3. That was a refreshing read regarding the idea of following your dreams.

    I adore horror movies,I´m a huge fan,plus am an artist myself,I can clearly get your desires to create and show your creation to the world.Glad you made it,hopefully we´ll see more and more creative movies.

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