Horror Film Director


Posted on August 8th, by Darren Lynn Bousman in blog, general, news, opinion, Rambling, THE DEVIL'S CARNIVAL. 17 comments

Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that I am a bit of a recluse. I am not a big partier, nor do I bask in the Hollywood scene… In fact, I am not sure I thrive in any scene… I am a hermit. I love my house and my creature comforts… I love waking up in my own bed, and making coffee in own kitchen… I love sitting out by the pool, or watching a movie in my man cave. I prefer spending time with my dog and my wife over most people.

For the last few years, I have literally built my Utopia so I never have to leave.  I even get panic attacks going to STARBUCKS so I have purchased every type of coffee maker imaginable.

I am socially awkward… I have never really grasped how to do the whole social thing. I have a small group of friends, and I enjoy their company, but I enjoy my privacy more…

Don’t get me wrong. One of the biggest highs for me is standing in a theater, talking to a packed house. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, my fans are my drug They fuel the fire for me to continue to work, make movies… hell, even wake up in the morning…

If I had my druthers, however, I would hide in my compound and only break away to fuel my addiction.

Sadly, I have chosen a path recently that has pitted my wants and desires against my art.

If you are reading this blog, odds are you aware of, and have been following my exploits on the road with my latest project, THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL.

The Devil’s Carnival is Terrance Zdunich’s and my new musical endeavor. We opted out of a traditional distribution model and instead decided to distribute the film ourselves.

For the last 60 days we have been on the road traveling across North America bringing the movie to the masses in true carnie fashion. We have become gypsies… wanderers. Traveling from one city to the next. Each morning we wake up in a different hotel, each night we play a different theater.

Since April I have been living out a suitcase… Never in one place more than a few days, I have forgotten what my bed looks like… a home cooked meal is nothing more than a wet dream… and worse yet, I don’t remember what it feels like to be… comfortable.


I teeter on the edge at all times of being enraged by the distribution model and embracing the challenge to destroy it.

I am a tadpole in Lake Eerie. I am well aware that while I may possess delusions of grandeur, the majority of the world marvels at my stupidity.

I remember the moment when I professed that I wanted to do a traveling Road Tour for The Devil’s Carnival. Those closest to me scoffed, laughed and ridiculed. In retrospect, I understand it…

Here I was, a filmmaker with a short film, and I really thought it warranted taking it out on a the road in some TOUR, and people would actually show up…

Being a tadpole doesn’t detour the dreams of being a frog…

As an independent filmmaker and artist, it is up to me to adapt to the landscape. In the case of The Devil’s Carnival, I needed to create a new model for people to view this art project.

The problem I possessed was that the solution Terrance and I came up with completely contradicts my comfort level. For the road tour to work, I must leave my compound and live on the ROAD…


I have directed 8 sizable projects in the last 7 years. Each and every one I shot on location. That meant leaving my house and setting up home base somewhere else (in most cases, a different country).

There is something exciting about living abroad. One can’t help but feel cultured while shooting a movie on a different continent. As stressful as the move initially is, you adapt.

When Terrance and I decided to embark on The Devil’s Carnival road show I convinced myself it would be like being on location… There would be a period of adaptation, then it would become routine…

Today is day 58 on the road tour, and let me tell you, my dear readers, it has yet to become routine.

I guess I didn’t realize how dramatic and tiring living on the road would be. It has become comical, the effect this tour has had on my life, both personally and mentally.

For starters, there is no home base. There is not one SAFE location where you can get away and have a private moment or thought… the closest thing we have to a home base is our VAN, a van that reeks of tears, sadness, disgusting half-eaten food and stale Starbucks.

This Van is the home to five people. The Devil’s Carnival carnies. If you have ever wondered how much trash one person accumulates in a day, take a peek in our van; that’s if you can see past the piles and piles of suitcases, merchandise, and fast food wrappers that decorate the floor.

I joke about the smell of the van, but it’s anything but humorous… It really smells awful. But, that is partly our doing. When you spend as much time on the road as we do, you look for ways to relieve the monotony… The boredom… The insanity… and for us, that comes in little glass vial… A little glass vial? A – LITTLE – GLASS – VIAL…

Don’t ask me how this started… and don’t ask me to predict when it will end… But no less than 30 stink bombs have been detonated in our van in the last week alone. It began as an inside joke between Terrance and me, but it has now carried over to the GIRLS, as well. Nothing and no one is off-limits in the van… It’s every man for himself.

Our sense of humor has degenerated to that of a middle school boy.

I could deal with the smell of stink bombs and “liquid ass.” I could even say I have become accustomed to it. But something that is unbearable that never seems to get any better is the SPACE itself (or lack thereof). Unless you are driving the van you are crammed in the backseats like sardines (remind me later to tell you all the sardine fiasco which is an equally as disgusting story as the stink bombs). We are literally right on top of each other. Keep in mind this is a SIX person van. But we have luggage, a PA system, tons of merch, lights, etc… So all of that luggage has spilled forward into the seating area… So at any given time you are driving 15 hours with a suitcase on your lap, and a gasmask on your face.

The drives themselves are long and cumbersome. Most days we are RUSHING to get to the next venue and have no time to spare… This results in LIMITED pit stops and limited choices for food.
That being said, we did find time to break away for one day and hit an amusement park!!!


And by Kings, I mean pigs.

This is my least favorite part of the tour process… Dining out… Oh how I long for the days Laura used to cook me dinner… 92% of our intake on the road is of the indefinable meat variety. Truck stop food has become our staple…

I have become a connoisseur of fried chicken, 3-day-old pizza, and Waffle Houses. Don’t get me wrong… I love fried batter as much as the next guy — maybe more — but not for weeks in a row, breakfast after breakfast…

I would say, however, the most depressing part of being on the road is the actual hotels themselves.


Being on a budget, we have to book on a budget. This roadblock has left us in more than a few questionable establishments… Last night we stayed in a hotel room with GREEN SHAG CARPET, rotary dial phones, and enough stains on the bed sheets and couches to make a porn theater owner blush…

We have had the pleasure of finding many interesting things in our hotel rooms… This varies from BLOOD STAINS – to crusted socks left over previous occupants…


I have forgone my expensive coffee makers, and instead rely now on HOTEL coffee…

My single biggest issue however with my new life on the road has nothing to do with the DNA evidence in each and every hotel room we stay, or the shitty food, or even the horrendous smells… My single biggest issue which brings me down is that those closest to me lack understanding of the amount of work that goes into pulling off what we are doing…


For THREE HOURS a night we are kings! Fans line up around the block, they chant and they scream — they make us feel like ROCKSTARS.

For the other TWENTY-TWO HOURS, we are working harder and doing more than most movies or productions I have been involved with. We are literally calling theaters, dealing with insurance permits, booking opening acts, dealing with ticketing, packing up MERCH,  setting up PA systems, and driving across the country.

I have mad respect for musicians… I feel privileged to know a lot of rock and roll stars. I look at their lives, however, and I pity them. How the hell do they do it? Look at a tour schedule of your favorite band, and it’s insanity. Every single night for MONTHS on the road…

I feel like I have learned a lot doing this tour… Actually, I feel like it’s been a crash course in distribution…

I have gained a few pounds and lost a little more hair, but when it’s all said and done, I have had an experience few in my position will ever have. I have seen the effect of our art on other artists. I have met the people who have kept me working… I have made relationships with venues all across the country that will allow me to continue on my journey of working around the typical distribution system…

Filmmakers and other artists take note. The only one standing in the way of you and your art being seen is you!!!

I look forward to returning home, and getting back into my compound… I miss my wife, my dogs, and my man cave… But one thing has become absolutely clear on this insane adventure…

People might laugh at you, scoff at you, and refuse to understand the sacrifices you make as an artist… These are the same people who have never been passionate about anything… never created anything… and never felt the utter satisfaction of seeing a dream realized.

Every day I am on the road I grow… As a person, as an artist, as a filmmaker…

I would write more, but I think I see a Waffle House on the horizon…




17 thoughts on “LIFE ON THE ROAD

  1. i will bring many bottles of febreze for your van, id bring food to but since were roadtriping to ohio, i dont know if it will keep, but if you guys need anything and i can get it, me and my friends will bring it to you begining of next month

  2. Darren has 25 hours in his day… Talk about overtime.

    But really, what you do for us, the fans is absolutely amazing. I’ve seen the film and love it (obviously. Or my ‘name’ wouldn’t be a song quote). Thank you for doing this. When I grow up, I want to pull a Bousman. You inspire me.

  3. Thank you so much for pursuing your art despite having to step out of your comfort zone. I am amazed…thank you for being awesome and sharing your art with the world.
    If you swing by Austin again, I’ll happily provide a home cooked meal – comfort food or something fancy – for however many you’ve got (it it’s a lot, gimme a couple days notice…).
    FYI on van smell – find some activated charcoal packets if you can. Also sprinkle lots of baking soda into the carpet and leave it for a bit. It vacuums up later easily and takes most smells with it.

  4. Reading this, aside from the utmost respect, gratefulness and admiration I have for you and the whole crew, I get an overwhelming desire to cook you all some real food and bring it to each and every venue.

    I can’t do this, of course, but I wish I could!! You guys have given so much of yourselves to this tour. And yes, the giving is part self-serving as it’s your own art and you’re getting it out there, but it’s not ONLY that. Your fans, your attendees, get so much out of your art being shared.
    Personally, I don’t get a lot out of movies anymore. I hardly go out to the theaters, and I cringe every time I see a trailer for the newest action-sequence that’s really just a re-do of an older action-sequence. It’s dull. It’s boring. It’s tired and it’s frustrating. I can’t get my escape into another world if that world is trite and tasteless.

    What I got out of REPO!, I get out of The Devil’s Carnival. It’s a fascinating world to glimpse, and it’s the sort of non-mainstream INTERESTING view that I crave so deeply the more it’s taken from me.

    As an artist, I have no real product to disseminate. I’m a meager illustrator with no more than below-average talent, and my writing sounds a lot better in my head than it does on paper to other people. So I can’t really get my headspace to the place you are at, the place where I have something I believe in to put out there, something that could affect people, touch their lives like your work. I can only imagine that it must be exhilarating, even amongst the exhaustion.

    Rambling over, to sum up, you guys are amazing, and this tour is historic and inspiring, even if I wouldn’t ever be in the same position.

  5. Earlier today i was telling someone how great it is what you guys are doing, but that it must suck ass. Guess i was right. Your fans appreciate it and i’m sure you are an inspiration to many. You are a frog, don’t let the scorpions get you!

  6. Darren, I have traveled twice to see a showing of The Devils Carnival from Phoenix, Az to Las Vegas and San Diego. I have to say that what you do is Amazing. Your film is outstanding but what has really changed my life is the way you do the tour. You have opened my eyes to other ways, I have met many people I would have never met and feel I am a better person due to the experiences I have had. I hope you understand just how important your work is to some of us. I would gladly give up my daily life to help you and your work on the road. I am on the other side and see and feel the good you do for people! I for one want to Thank You and Terrance! I appreciate all you and your crew do and the sacrifices you all make. Please don’t ever stop! Let us give back to you what you give us. If you are ever in Phoenix my door is open, Dinner is on the table and a private room and space is waiting. Hail Satan!

  7. And this is why, when we lent a hand at the Columbus stop, we kept saying “This is just what we do”. We figured that you and your crew were so beat up from the road and everything else, that the least we could do is as much of the lifting and running and you guys would allow.

    Thank you for all YOU do in bringing TDC to us. Hope you get safely back to your wife, dogs and mancave. I really don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t..

  8. This blog couldn’t have been more convenient. I am currently facing the persecutions of many “close” to me about pursuing my dreams. I want to be involved in the magic that is movie making. While people say they believe in me, they don’t REALLY. I feel it’s pity hope. When it really comes down to it, I’ve been told I’ll fail like everyone else who strives for this dream. However, being strong-willed, I choose to ignore these comments and keep my eyes planted on the goal.

    We brought a speaker system with us to the San Diego kick-off event to help you guys out with sound. If you would like that again for Santa Monica, let me know. We’d love to help you guys out and bring it again. After seeing exactly how packed your van is, we want to be as much help as we possibly can.


    -Kasu Quinn/Coral

  9. Stink bombs aside, you wrote, “Last night we stayed in a hotel room with GREEN SHAG CARPET, rotary dial phones, and enough stains on the bed sheets and couches to make a porn theater owner blush…”

    Well, I offered a place in the Black Hills, with a private guest house & the blue bus & plenty of privacy for hermit-tendencies but never heard back from any of you. I have been told off for trying to “guilt-trip” you guys but I have to say, you really missed out. Sturgis went on without you & the Black Hills missed you. As did I, obviously.

    Being quite a hermit myself, I can really relate to what you wrote about yourself in that regard. Here’s hoping your tour comes to an end soon so you can get back to your private coffee-makers, swimming pool, dog & wife…

  10. As a fan, I can tell you, your sacrifices are very appreciated. Having met you and Terrance on 8/9 in Boise, I can say that you didn’t seem too stressed or tired (though I’m sure you were) even though and especially since you had major issues getting to us. Meeting you guys was truly one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. That said, I’m with you on the hermit in a cave mentality. I go out rarely to party and prefer my small group of friends…Thanks for going to such lengths to share your project with us!


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