This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 154: Saw II Writer & Director Darren Lynn Bousman Talks About Breaking In And His Latest Film, Abattoir.
Ashley: Welcome to episode #154 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and blogger over at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing, Writer/Director Darren-Lynn-Bousman. He’s known for writing and directing a few of the “Saw” movies. And he just did a new film called, “Abattior.” We talk about how he broke into the business and was able to get his break writing and directing, “Saw 2.” And then we also discuss his latest film. So, stay tuned for that.
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So, now let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m interviewing writer director Darren-Lynn-Bousman here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Darren to the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show with my today.
Darren: Thank you for having me.
Ashley: So, to start out, maybe you could give us a little bit about your background? Where did you grow-up and how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Darren: I grew-up in Kansas City, I was on the Kansas side, one mile from the Missouri border. I had a very normal childhood I guess? I got involved in theater early on in life. Originally, I was most I was going to do, I majored in Math team and theater. And then, there was like a moment when I was going to high school. I was in a theatrical production, “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
That I looked around and I realized that my love for what I was doing was not fulfilling me to the point that I needed it to. I loved creating characters, but that I thought would be cooler was to create worlds. And so, I kinda needed more. So, I stopped the idea of wanting to be an actor at that point. And said, I want to be a director. I want to make and write things and control the universe, not just this one person I play on stage. And that kinda shifted my career, I went to KU, Kansas University for a couple of years, before dropping out and going to film school in
Orlando Florida, at a place called, “Full Sail University.”
Ashley: Okay, okay. And so, what did you do at “Full Sail University?” Was it directing major, was it producing major?
Darren: It was directing. At that point I wanted to be a writer. I really wanted to direct. But, it was just easier for me to write my own stuff. So, I went there and wrote a bunch of films that I ended up making. I was excited about film school. So I was going to film school every weekend. I was shooting my own short films, and writing scripts to try and get noticed. But, yeah, I was there as a director. I actually directed, there’s two big projects when you’re at “Full Sail” that you could direct. And I directed both of them, and then I got the bug for directing. I was like, that’s it, I got to move to Hollywood. At that point, I wasn’t expecting Hollywood, I just knew film. And then I finished “Full Sail” I got inducted in like October. And I was in L.A. by November, and I haven’t left since.
Ashley: Okay, was did you actually show up in L.A. with? You have a pile of 3-4 scripts that you got produced.
Darren: No, I had a bunch of really bad short films that I thought were great at the time. But, were absolutely terrible, but I thought they were great. I was lucky actually, I really kinda view a unique crazy story in Hollywood. And you can find it on my blog, it’s called,
“What They Don’t Teach You in Film School.” Darren1000 blog, it’s a series of blogs I wrote, called, “What They Don’t Teach You in Film School.” And it literally follows my journey through wading through film school to my first job. But, one of the little side stories in that was, this is the days of AOL. Now, most people don’t have that anymore. But that was, you had to dial up to a modem, and you heard that screeching sound. But they had instant messenger and they allowed you to search instant messenger by keywords. And so, I searched the keywords for producer when I was in Florida. And I started chatting with this guy, this sounds like a horror story. But I promise it’s not. I started chatting with this guy. And I said, “Hey, I see you’re a producer? I’m a director, I’m coming to Hollywood.” I did, his name was Lee, at the time on Instant Messenger was, “Mr. Brain” that’s all it was. And we chatted for about two weeks. And he was only, when you’re on your way to Hollywood, here’s my number call me I’ll see what I can do. And so, I called him, on my way to Hollywood. And ended up at Mr. Brain, was somebody by the name of Harry Brain. Who, was one of the producers on “X-Files.” And day two, maybe, of me in Hollywood, I was working on “The X-Files” as a PA. So, I was a PA on
“X-Files” for a few months. And then on the last season we were shooting, I was fired. But I worked on “X-Files” for a few months. And that kind of was a, it’s like an avalanche, one job leads to another job, which leads to another job. And so, I was able to get to Hollywood very quickly, and get my foot in the door very quickly.
Ashley: Okay, now on the weekends and nights were you writing screenplays, starting to write feature films screenplays, directing little shorts.
Darren: Well, that is where and why I got fired from “X-Files.” So, I was always writing. And I got really disillusioned after coming to Hollywood in the first few years of being out here. That I was not being offered to direct things. I worked numerous jobs where my job as a screenwriter career. And I’m, I was not getting paid, I was an intern. And like every morning I would walk into the office. And it would be 7 or 8 scripts there. And they would say, “Read these scripts.” And write, “Coverage.” And then my job was basically to say, “No.” And if I said, “Yes” it was pretty much my internship on the line. If I said, yes, read this, then that means, I think it’s good enough that my boss should read it. And I was in a place in time, called, “Tapestry Films.” And they were known for making the “Mary Kate Olson” and cute kid movies. But, I was there at the time, and I read a script and they were called, “Van Wilder.” Which was the first real project that I worked on as a film. But, I didn’t like that I was reading other people’s things that I thought were not very good. And I was like, I can do way better than this. And I also realized that the people that were reading the scripts were not hired execs. They were not people like me, that were bitter, angry, 21 year old people. And so, what I did was, I started writing my own movie. Trying basically to circumvent the process. Knowing that I knew what I would do to consider a script to give to someone else. So, I tried to use all those tricks. And I wrote a script called, “Desperate.” And it was about me, It was about my desperation. And that’s, I wrote that, while he was working on all my projects. I was working on “X-Files” and “Van Wilder.” And the
1st AD came over to me and had seen me working on scripts, and I would get fired. He said, “You’re hired to be a PA, you’re not hired to be a screenwriter.” And literally, this is not an exaggeration! You think I’m lying or not? Then on Van Wilder, I was called over by the 1st AD, they actually said, trust us, you will never work in Hollywood again. Like you were the worst PA we ever had, and good luck with your script. And I sold that script about a year later, maybe less than a year later. Which became “Saw 2.” So, “Desperate, became “Saw 2” And so, that was the first screenplay that I professionally sold. I had optioned a couple of screenplays outside of that. But that was the first one, was actually a sale to one script.
Ashley: So, let’s talk about that, You’re going into the office, there’s 7 scripts each week your going 5 days a week, you’re talking about 30 scripts a week, you’re looking at. How many did you give the proverbial, “Yes” to, or recommend to?
Darren: Not many, because again, I knew that if I said, “Yes.” I was putting myself at risk. And that’s another thing people don’t realize about Hollywood, people are paid to say “No.” They’re not paid to say, “Yes.” You say no, because saying no is job security. No is, because if you risk something and say, “Yes” and the put money in, they put millions in to develop a movie that fails, you’re losing you job. So, my job security was continue to look and try and find something, a it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough. So, I didn’t say yes, a whole lot. But, one of my jobs early in my career. And this is on the first four years I went down to LA. I was an agents assistant, at a place called, “The Agency APA.” And my boss left APA and started his own company, and I went with him. And he made me a junior agent. And he said, he literally had 100’s of scripts I guess? You find the next script in there, I, it’s on you, and he literally left. And I spent the next 3-4 weeks reading all the scripts. I found a script, a writer by the name of B. Mark C. Brooks.
And I read the script and I was like, holy sh**, this is great, I love this thing. He let me take it out. And I asked if he sold it. And I actually found the person by it. And that was my first. It was kinda like a drug. Once you find the script, and you believe in something. And you go out and try and sell it. And that also, was, it had a reverse effect on me. I was like, I should be writing these. I shouldn’t be selling, I should be writing these things. And so, it lead me back to the whole of writing my own stuff. And so there was, I was struggling my first I came out here between wanting to be a director, and wanting to be writer. Or wanting to be someone in the agency circuit. And so, I went from being a PA on “X-Files” to “Van Wilder.” To being an assistant at an agency, to being a junior agent. To stop all that and being a director with the “Saw” films, and then a writer.
Ashley: So, you talked, you’re talking about as a reader. You started to come up with the things that maybe writers are doing wrong, some tricks and stuff. What specifically, and maybe you can talk to use about that script you say you did. That you recommend that you really like. What were some of the things you think that writers should do? According to you to get past this first round of?
Darren: Here’s the reality. And this is, I wish there was a, and I haven’t figured it out yet? And maybe there isn’t a true way to success. And if there was, people would always copy and emulate. It’s different for every person, my story is different. But then, everyone else’s story. I’ll give you a funny anecdote. How I actually sold my first screenplay. But, on that one, I was, I like to be entertained when I’m reading. I mean that, there’s numerous ways you can write a script. And I like to smile while reading a script. Because, I don’t like reading, it’s a arduous process, it takes me 3-4 hours to read any script, I can’t read them quickly. I have to stop and read every line and visualize it or I get lost. And so, to me it is making the scripts fun to read, for me as a reader. It is knowing the format, and knowing, that I would put scripts down after 6 or 7 pages, if I receive spelling errors, and the formatting was wrong. But I always got mad at people that tell me fix it on my spelling, because I’m a horrible speller. And I would just read the content. But the reality is this, it’s I don’t like reading them in the first place. And if you’re not taking your craft seriously enough that you’re fucking up the formatting, and not putting the right structure in place? Why do I care enough? But to me, it’s making the scripts fun to read. There’s a writer by the name of Alex Litvak. He wrote the “Alien Versus Predator” movie. He’s written
“3 Musketeers.” His scripts literally are fun to read, that I would read, like, as a novel. I would just sit down and read them just because, just for fun. I’m going to give you an example, is swearing okay in this Podcast? Because I just said a bad word? He’s like a you read a saying, he’ll say like, interior warehouse, day. And he’ll say, a man, let’s call the man, you know what, fuck you, you don’t get his name, you’re not cool enough yet. Wait till the next page. He’ll like say things like that. Whereas he’s talking to you as a reader as you’re reading it, and it’s just like, that’s awesome. And like, he’ll before an action sequence he’ll like say something like. Are you sitting down? Grab yourself a cup of coffee because the shits about to get real, the car or boat. He’ll say things that are like that. And I found myself wanting to turn the next page. Because it was just an exciting read. What I don’t like are scripts that are not, that are monotonous, boring, and minimalistic in that approach, but everyone’s different. Some people hate what I like. Some people hate when they write to the reader, I don’t. My story about how, “Desperate” got sold. Was completely a line of fabrication. And it was at that point, was sold of “Desperate.”
I was working at APA, I was mention the agency. That I realized there was a formula to get it, something sold. Is, it had to have a good coverage. An agent had to represent you. There was all this asthetic. Well, couldn’t get, there was a catch-22 that I couldn’t get an agent, until I sold something, I couldn’t sell something until I had an agent. And I was an assistant, so what I did is? I wrote, “The Desperate” under a fake name, I think it was James Luther? And I wrote fake coverage for it, as Darren Bousman. And so, I wrote coverage on it on my own script. And I gave it stronger recommends, strongly recommend. I used that coverage to send to other agencies. And that my other friends read the same thing and they give a strong recommend. So, I had fake coverage written for a script that no one had really read. And I made up a fake agency.
Ashley: Your friends didn’t read it either? They just read.
Darren: They just read the coverage. And they so, basically I manipulated my way to have quasi-bidding war on a movie no one would have even read yet. And I was just at that point again, I was manipulating the system. But it worked for me because the script was actually pretty good. And once it was actually read? People started making offers on it almost immediately. And you know, there’s that thing perception is reality. Is that, the perception is, oh, there’s a hot property that’s this new writer no one’s heard of. Oh we got to get this thing, oh we have to read this thing. And people were trying to get the script before it was even finished. And so, there was no one was able to get a copy of this script. And so, by the time it was actually-finished, and actually readable and out there. There was already heat underneath the script. It was all manipulated. And I look back on it now and laugh. Because, I mean, it’s, this would never work today. I don’t think you could do what I did then, and right now. But, it was funny and it worked for me, and it got my foot in the door to meet with all the people which is eventually sold, and it became “Saw 2.”
Ashley: Okay. Now, did you get any, did people come looking for this Luther?
Darren: Yeah, they. So, what I did was I made up a voicemail. And again, this was 2002, maybe? I made up a fake voicemail box, I made up a fake agency. And what I would do is? Another assistant friend of mine, he worked in another agency, he wanted to be a producer. And so, she made up, she made up a hot voicemail, “Hi, you’ve reached so, and so, agency company. We’re not in, please leave your name and message and bla, bla, bla… And so, on the script
cover page, it would lead to that thing. And so, the coverage, it’s been so long, right. Let’s see, I had it in a box somewhere, how we did this whole thing. But, people were calling and leaving messages. Hey, we’re trying to get a copy of the film, “The Desperate” written by James Luther, please call us back, just want a copy of the script, “The Desperate. Bla, bla, bla. Once that actually happened? We began to pull back the curtain and when they actually got the script my name was on it at that point. But, we just did that as a bait to get people to actually pay attention to it. And it was actually funny, how it got sold, was? I got a financier at that point, the only one who didn’t direct. And everyone that was interested in the script was interested in buying it out right. But someone came to me and said, “We’ll give you money to actually make this. We’ll give you a million dollars, and you can direct it.” And the DP who was going to be my Cinematographer, was a guy by the name of David Armstrong. David Armstrong, had just finished a movie called, “Saw.” And so, he meets with me, at an office. And he says, “You know what? I know you want to make this for a million dollars.”
And I guess it was less than a million dollars. Do you mind if I show it to somebody? I really want to show this to somebody. And I said, “I guess?” And he showed it to somebody by the name of Mark Berg. Mark Berg was the producer of “Saw.” And Mark calls me immediately, and goes, literally, like 12 hours later, he goes, “I understand you’re about to sell your project. And license director, do it!” So, you’re going to meet with me. Come to Lion’s Gate, we’ll have a meeting in the morning. And so, I’m a PA, I’m like an assistant on an agency desk. Next thing I know, I’m sitting in Lion’s Gate in a room full of executives. Saying, we just read, “The Desperate” we want to talk to you about making this? And so, literally, it didn’t happen overnight. Everyone says, an overnight story. I’ve been working for years to that point. But, that moment was over night. What, I went from barely being able to afford my rent. To getting on a plane to go do “Saw 2.”
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Was there any kind of push back bringing you on as a director, and write the script?
Darren: Absolutely, absolutely.
Ashley: Did you have pretty good directing reel? That you could elude to?
Darren: No, I had a horrible rep. Once again, it was one of those manipulation stories. I feel horrible telling these stories now. But, I can only laugh now, it’s been 15 years.
Darren: So, when Lion’s Gate opened originally. When “Twisted Pictures” originally came to do, “Desperate.” They were going to give me money to make, “The Desperate.” My own movie called, “The Desperate.” “Saw” had just been to Sundance, and had done gang-busters at Sundance. And Lion’s Gate said, “This could be a franchise. We need to make another one, and we need to make it immediately, to come out next year.” And so, there was scrambling to try and find a writer to write something for it quickly. And my movie dealt with group of people that were being manipulated and toyed with by a serial killer. They came to me and said, “Wait a minute, we could take, “The Desperate” and make serial killer, Jigsaw and do it that way.” But my contract stated and manipulated that I was going to be the director of, “The Desperate” or any of the variation there of.” So, when it became, “Saw 2” I was still attached to direct it. So, I kinda got it through a weird way direction, “Saw 2.” But, I did have to sit down at Lion’s Gate and they asked me if I ever directed before. And I was like, “Oh, yeah, I directed a lot.” And they said, “Do you have any horror stuff you directed?” I said, “Yeah, I’ve got a whole horror set that got awards at a bunch of festivals.” And they said, “Okay, great. We’re going to need to see that horror short.” I had never directed a horror short. So, this was like a Thursday afternoon. And so, I rush home and call my parents, and I was like, I need money. And they were like, what do you need money for? I was like, I need it, I need a couple of $2000.00 please! So, my parents scraped together whatever money they had and they sent it to me. And that Friday, Saturday, I shot a
10-minute horror short. We posted it on Sunday and I delivered it to Lion’s Gate Monday afternoon. And that was called, “Zombie.” And that got it for me, they saw “Zombie” and they were like, “Okay we got it, you got it.” And then 2-3 days after the short film, I was given the contract to direct “Saw 2.”
Ashley: Yeah. In IMDb you have a couple of other identity, “Lost” and “Butterfly 3.”
Darren: Bad short films, real bad short films!
Ashley: You’re not going to show?
Darren: No, no, no, no, no. That would be, that would be like me. I’ve gotten better with everything, and every project I’ve done, more confident. Those were, they were when I was in Florida, some were in film school, and they were just really bad, like experimental short films. I’m not even sure how they made it onto IMDb, but, yeah.
Ashley: So, let’s dig into, “Abattoir” for a minute. Maybe to start out you can just us a quick pitch or a log-line? Just tell us what the film is about. I will link to the title and all that stuff.
Darren: “Abattoir” is the story of a man named, “Jebediah Crone” who travels the world buying crime scenes. And so, anytime there’s a tragedy at a place. Someone commits suicide at a bathtub, a house fire, a home invasion. He buys the house, rips out the crime scene. And we follow Jebediah Crone, and we forget and realize he’s been building a house of his own. Made up entirely of crime scenes, that’s kind of the high concept pitch. It is actually a story about a girl by the name of, “Jewels Talbin” she, her sister was brutally murdered. And before she can deal with the grief, the room where her sister was murdered in was ripped out of the house. And she begins an investigation to uncover the legend of Jebediah Crone. And she uncovers the fact that he’s been doing this for years, collecting crime scenes. And she goes on an investigation to find out why he’s doing this?
Ashley: Okay. So how did you become involved in this project? How did the script get to you?
Darren: I, it’s an original idea, that myself and a friend of mine Michel Peterson at the time came up with. That I wanted to do a new take on a haunted house story. And I wanted to make a movie not, about the haunted house. But the creation of the haunted house. And so, this is kinda like an origin story of how the haunted house came to be. Not about people being murdered inside a haunted house. But, actual creation, someone was creating an actual haunted house. And so, I had this idea and we wrote a treatment out. That I went out and pitched the treatment. And one of the places I went to was, “Radical Studios.” And I pitched this idea and treatment. About the building and creation of this haunted house. And they bought into it.
Ashley: Okay, okay. And then how did you bring on that writer? You had somebody new?
Darren: Somebody new. So, I’ve sold 7 or 8 screenplays myself, if I’m a writer myself. But, when I’m directing, I’m so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of being a director. I don’t have time to take a long time to write a screenplay. Like I can, I know some people can crank one out in 4-5 weeks. It takes me 5 or 6 months to write screenplay. So, I knew that I didn’t have the time to focus on it. I was shooting another movie at the time. A shoot called, “The Barron’s.” So, I need to find someone to write it for me. There was a guy by the name of, “Chris Fett,” who was a writer I knew of. He had sent me spec. script called, “Down Satan.” It was one of the scripts I was talking about before that. I loved reading it, it was just poetic, oh off the page!
And I always knew that if I had a chance to write something on Satan. It there was ever a movie that achieved a chance to hire a writer? I wanted to work with him! He has a unique voice, it’s very much like a Aaron Sorkin, by way of Mammit, by way of Tarantino. It’s, the dialog is weird and verbose and it’s unique approach of writing. So, I called him up and I said, “Listen, I’ve got this idea.” We made a comic book out of it. I sent him the comic books. I said, “Would you be interested in helping me adapt this to a feature?” And he did it. And maybe 8 weeks later, he gave me the script, and it was awesome!
Ashley: And how did you meet this guy?
Darren: A spec. screenplay, he sent me a screenplay. When I was making “Saw 4” something like that? I was looking for my next movie. I was reading a bunch of spec. from people. And he sent one to me called, “Down Satan.” Which was based on a Clive Barker short story, I just loved his writing.
Ashley: And maybe you could just talk a little bit about, I get a lot of Emails from people. Hey, how can I contact this director, you know, I have this script.
Ashley: That would be perfect for him. Just, not so much specifically.
Ashley: Here’s my Email address, but specifically, how does script kind of? Do they typically go to your agent, and then go to you?
Darren: Typically, it’s different, and this is the crazy. As I was saying, no one way that it works in Hollywood. And I’ve read every book that I can get my hands on,
“How to Make it in Hollywood” or “How to Sell Your Screenplay in Hollywood?” And the reality is this? All those books are right, and completely incorrect. People, because it’s different for every single person. So, for me? A lot of it’s personal relationships, do I know someone who knows someone, who knows someone. That, like, I get Emails a lot. And people will try to ask me to read their screenplays, and I won’t do it. I don’t like reading to begin with. And I don’t lke reading from someone I don’t know? But, with the advent of technology, and now Facebook, Twitter and InstaGram. Anyone can reach out to anyone. And it’s funny, I’ve passed my last few movies off instaGram, and Facebook. I’m not even milking you. I will find them on Facebook, I will not go to their agents, and their managers. And I will tell and a barrage them with messages. And I would say, a third of the time they respond to me. The same thing can be said, about me and my responses to people. I’ve, a couple of times, people have contacted me on Facebook, and they wow me in some way. It’s never by sending me those screenplay, I won’t do that. But, they will engage me. Or maybe make me think about something. And I will start talking with them. And then 4 months later, 5 months later, I might read their screenplay. Agents are ya, obviously a way, you know, it comes through an agency. But, it’s hard, you got, I think my advice to you. If film makers or screenwriters that want their things read? Is, you got to be unique in your way you approach.
You can’t come to me at a party or when I’m at your film school, and want to hand me your screenplay, it’s going to go in the trash. And numerous reasons. One, I don’t have the time to read it. Two, I don’t want to accidentally read it. And subconsciously steal one of your ideas. Three, I don’t want to be working on another movie that’s similar to yours, and you think you gave me the idea. But, find a way, to engage me, in, make me think. Because your in the creative industry. You’re in an industry of being creative. And if you’re not creative, in your approach to me? Why am I going to give you any time? And going back to my story of how I got to work right now? I would do weird things to get noticed. And examples, when I was trying to find my first production jobs. I wouldn’t just send my resume in. And I would send my resume in a refrigerator box, with a singing telegram. I was being creative in how to get myself out there. And I remember on Halloween, I sent my resume to a bunch of music theater companies. And I would sent them inside jack-o-lanterns, plastic jack-o-lanterns filled with candy bars. My resume was in a circle in the center of it. So, when they got it, they were like, oh, what’s this? And they would open it up. The same thing needs to be said, about trying to sell yourself. If you’re trying to sell yourself and your screenplay? Be creative, give me a reason why I want to read it? Why I have to read it. That’s one thing to do, it’s a lot easier me to click on a short film and watch that. Than it is for me to devote 90 minutes to hopefully liking your screenplay. What I have done, is? People have sent me links to their short films. And I’ll watch them, and say, “It’s fucking good! What else do you have?” I’ll read your screenplay, that’s happened a couple of times. Where people have sent me and linked me into movies they’ve done. And shorts they’ve done. And I’ll watch it, and I’ll be really impressed with the way the writing. And I’ll ask what else they have. So, that’s another way that I’ve, that they’ve wanted to do. And it’s very easy, not ease, but easier for now, that if you have a short film, to go shoot it. Shoot it with a director in front of you. So, to show what fun it is, show case your writing. But to relate how, is there an easy way for someone like me to read your script? I don’t know? I mean, you do your fun stories though. I hear stories about people that have taken their script and left it at the thrown. Or left it on Stephen Spielberg’s door and stuff like that. I find that, that doesn’t really work a lot. But, it’s always the people that are unique in their approach, that I spend time with actually to read their stuff. And just try to find that unique way to, “Can I tell you about that?” Can I tell you what that unique way is? No, I can’t. Find my example of a singing tele-gram. Like how I got jobs in music video production was? Things like that, I think you have to find the unique approach to make it worth my time.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I wondered? Sitting here now, 15 years later. Do you look back at film school as something, especially the way you’re kinda down on “Butterfly Dreams” and “Deadly Wasp.” Do you recommend something like film school as a good habit for people? Do you feel like it did a kind of a loss?
Darren: I’m in such a different, and again, this is 15-year old errand talking like me. And this is years later, yes and no. I’ll tell you what film school did. I went to this place called,
“Full Sail University” which is great. It wasn’t what they taught me. You can learn that on set in a week. What I was taught at film school? I can learn right now, in a week. What film school did, was structured my life. It showed me that like the way that my film school worked. Was, it went 12 months a year, you never had a break. Then it went 7 days a week.
And so, your class could be at 1:00a.m. in the morning on a Sunday. And you went in 12 hour blocks, literally, 1:00a.m. on a Sunday and you got off at 1:00p.m. in the afternoon on a Monday. And they taught you production hours. And they taught you hands-on what to do.
And that got me ready for L.A. But, what it really did for me? Was, it gave me a community of friends that I moved out here with. That if I didn’t move out here, with them, I would not have survived. So, we all went to film school, we all become best friends, we all moved out here together. I’m still best friends with those people. Hunter Vi, who’s my editor I use all the time. Him and I went to film school together. He now cuts “The Miss” by Frank, he cuts “The Walking Dead” he cuts, “The Sons of Anarchy.” He is an amazing editor. These are the people I went to film school with. That community of people that theses relationships, because Hollywood is about relationships, I said earlier. It’s just about relationships, it’s who you know. And I think that they gave me that circle of people that who I know, to survive in Hollywood those first few years. So, what I say about film school, they, what you learn in film school, you could probably learn out here quickly. But, the resources I gain from going to that film school, I probably couldn’t get out here. If I just move out here by myself, without knowing anything? I’d have failed miserably.
Ashley: Yeah. Do you know the release date schedule of “Avattoir?” And how people can go see it?
Darren: It comes out December 9th this Friday. It is in select theaters in L.A., it’s in New York, it’s in Florida, something like that. But it’s on DOD, and ONDEMAND. And ya, that’s how you can watch it go pretty good on ITunes.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. And I just like to finish the interview by asking how people can keep up with you? Can you follow along if you’re on Twitter? You mentioned Twitter, Facebook?
Darren: Yeah so, my Twitter handle is – [email protected] my Facebook is
Darren Lynn Bousman I have a blog, www.darrenlynnbousman.com/blog. I sound like a pompus asshole trying to condense 20 years of my life. But I recommend read, “What They Don’t Teach You in Film School.” It kinda talks about my journey about getting my first job and how I was able to sell my first screenplay. And it was called,
“What They Don’t Teach You in Film School.” Because it is really what they didn’t teach me in film school. It was what I didn’t know? And wish I had literally known, I mean from film school. Because I think Hollywood is such a big scary place when you first come out here. I guess my interpretation of it. Was, I was going to come out to Hollywood and the gates were going to open to me. And I was going to get directed to writing jobs. And that’s not how it works. And so, this blog, there’s 5 of them maybe? Just kind of walk you through a very broad outline of how it worked for me. And the tricks that I did. And the kind of recommendations I would have from a new aspiring film maker, as writers.
Ashley: Yeah, that sounds like a great recommendation. I’ll get all that stuff wrapped up and I’ll put it in the show notes. People can click on it through.
Ashley: Darren, I really appreciate this.
Darren: Thank you so much.
Ashley: I just want to mention two things I am doing at “Selling Your Screenplay” to help screenwriters find producers that are looking for new material.
First I’ve created a monthly newsletter that will be sent directly to producers. Every member of SYS Select can submit one log-line per newsletter, per month. I went and Emailed my large database of Industry contacts and asked them if they would like to receive this newsletter of monthly pitches. So far I have well over 350 producers who have signed-up to receive it. These producers are hungry for new material and are happy to read scripts from new writers. So, if you would like to participate in this pitch newsletter and get your script into the hands of lots of producers. Sign-up at – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com, that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.
And secondly I’ve contacted one of the premier paid screenwriting leads sites. So I can syndicate their leads onto SYS Select members. There are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner. Recently I’ve been getting about ten to twelve high quality paid screenwriting leads per week. These are producers and production companies who are film writer looking to buy material. Or are looking to hire a screenwriter for a specific project. If you
sign-up for SYS Select you’ll get these leads Emailed to you directly several times per week. These leads run the gambit from production companies looking for a specific type of spec. script. To producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas. Producers are looking for shorts, features, TV and web series pilots, it’s a huge aray of different types of projects that these producers are looking for. And these leads are exclusive to our partner and
SYS Select members. To sign-up again, go to – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com, again that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.
So, on the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing screenwriter and director John Fowlin, he just did a film called, “Shelter” with Michael Parr. He lives up in Canada, and has maintained a solid career over the last decade. He has more than a half a dozen feature film writing credits. And we talk about how he got started? And how he’s been able to maintain his career over the last decade. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up, I just wanted to touch on a few things from today’s interview with Darren. I love his story about how he primed the bump by giving his own script a glowing recommendation. I do think you should be a little bit cautious and really think about sort of the entirety of the story? It really wasn’t completely about the coverage that he wrote. Or even the script. The key here though, is, he’d been working in the industry for many, many years. And building a network of people. So, once he had a decent script, and then. And also have this glowing coverage. He had a network of people to send it out to. I’ve talked about this before on the Podcast. By far the single biggest way a screenwriter break into the industry, is by working in the industry in some low-level job, working their way up, building up a network of people. And then having a half-way decent script when opportunity presented itself. In Darren’s case, he did all that sort of the “Laying of the foundation”
But then he also went out and created his own break, so that’s fantastic. But keep in mind, he put in a lot of work laying that foundation, getting to know the people. Understanding how coverage works, understanding how writing that glowing coverage how that would work. And how best to get that out into the industry.
So, again, it’s probably be a lot more complex that just having somebody write, you know, some fake coverage for you and then sending it out. I find a lot of people put too much emphasis on results especially in this case. Darren got write and direct, “Saw 2” And that’s fantastic. And yes, he did have to do a little bit of trickery to try and write his own coverage. And using a pen name on the script. But, none of that would have been possible if he hadn’t spent a few years kicking around Hollywood, and working in the business. So, really, really keep that in mind. It’s a much more complex solution that he’s presented here. Just, hey, I’ll get my buddy, or hey, I’ll write up some fake coverage and send it out. There’s a lot of ground work that needs to be done for that to actually work.
Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening.