“I’m going to play something for you, but it might be really embarrassing.”
Full Sail grad Darren Lynn Bousman fidgets with his phone as an auditorium of aspiring filmmakers looks on. The director and screen writer has been speaking with fellow Hall of Fame inductee Larry Katz about how to properly pitch your movie to executives, when something Larry says about practicing in front of a mirror stirs his memory.
“Here we go,” Darren says, holding his phone up to the mic. The voice coming out of the phone sounds a long way off, but the tone is unmistakable—calm, practiced, polished.
“That’s from a tribute to Wes Craven I did after he died. Before I say anything, I will record myself and play it over and over again so I can hear myself saying it, and I can pinpoint where someone else might tune out.”
For the good part of two hours, Darren takes questions from the audience on everything from directing a popular franchise (he helmed Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV) to the secret to his success (“Do not be afraid to fail”). He also talks about the future of distribution, a topic that’s close to his heart at the moment. He’s in town for the night to to promote one of his movies, Devil’s Carnival: Alleluia, a musical horror film about a group of sinners who come face to face with the devil himself. The showing is one of over 30 stops on a cross country tour.
“I love movies, and I love going to movie theaters,” he says. “As an artist, I want to see my films on the big screen. But distribution has changed so much over the past few years. So I decided to try to think outside the box and do something different.”
In this case, “something different” means embarking on a seven week road trip with select members of the cast and crew of the film.
“Our team rents out a theater and we tun it into a side show. We hire performers. There’s loud rock and roll music when you walk through the door. You’ll see dancers dancing on the stage. We do a Q&A and contests, and then we show the movie. It’s very heavy on audience participation.”
Although the Devil’s Carnival came out in 2012, it still enjoys a following among horror fans as a new cult classic. The slow burn of the film’s popularity means most fans didn’t have a chance to see it in theaters. It’s important to Darren to provide those fans with a second chance, and he’s always eager to expose new audiences to what he describes as “an abrasive, in your face rock opera.”
“We make [going to see the movie] an event. That is what I think has to happen for independent film to survive. Why would I pay 10 or 15 bucks to go see a movie that I can catch on demand a couple of months later? Something has to motivate me to leave my house. I’m trying to bring back the concept of going to a movie as an experience.”
Before leaving, Darren invites members of the audience to come out and experience the Devil’s Carnival Roadshow for themselves.
“I guarantee it will be unlike any other movie showing you’ve been to,” he says.