INT: Darren Bousman

The Arrow interviews Darren Bousman

Who is Darren Bousman? Well unless you've been living under a foot for the last months, you'll know that he's the virtual unknown who was given the biggest shot of his writing/directing career thus far when given the task to direct SAW II. Yup, the sequel to the smash hit SAW. I caught up with Darren to talk SAW shop and here's what he carved in my forehead.

What’s your favorite horror movie(s)?  

Last House on The Left, Henry Portrait of A Serial Killer… Even today after watching those films, I feel like I need to shower.  They are raw, intense, and unforgiving. 

What’s your filmmaking background?

I did a bunch of cheap crappy short films in Kansas where I grew up.  My parents must'a been crazy cause they believed in them enough to send me to film school in Florida at this place called FULLSAIL in Orlando.  That’s where I really learned the nuts and bolts of filmmaking.  I hooked up with a bunch of people I met in Orlando and started making short films. 

The short films led to music videos.  The music videos to commercials.  The commercials to this... Everything I have ever done prior was all on a shoe-string budget... Not even shoe-string; shoe-string would imply that I had SOME money for my projects... Most of the things I did were me pooling a bunch of favors from everyone I knew around town.   

How did the SAW 2 gig find its way to you? 

Luck, well, luck and DAVID ARMSTRONG!  I had written another script.  This claustrophobic horror 'thing' very violent, very in your face... Anyway I was going all over town trying to find money to make it.  I was hitting dead ends everywhere.  I was being told everywhere 'it's way too violent'.  Anyway, after a year of knocking on every horror producers' door, one finally opened up.  This German Company... Anyway, they dug the script and wanted to make it. 

In the meantime, my agent set me up with a meeting to meet with DP's.  The German Company wanted to hire an American DP.  The first guy I met with was David Armstrong.  David had just finished shooting SAW.  He really responded to my script, and loved the project.  Halfway through our meeting, he asked me if I was locked with this German Company, because he wanted to show it to the SAW producers... The next day the phone rings… It’s Gregg Hoffman… The rest is history...

Were you at all intimidated in directing a follow up to such a successful original?  Are you kidding? 

I wake up in panic attacks every night!  Somehow my email address got out.  And for a while there I was getting a ton of email from all over... People in different cities, different states, different countries... All of these people either wishing me luck, or telling me not to fuck up the movie.  Last year no one knew who I was... This year people from all over the world are begging me not to ruin their favorite horror movie... It's a huge weight on my shoulders.  

You wrote the screenplay with Leigh Whannell; how would you describe the process?  

Leigh is an amazing writer!  He's also one sick guy!!! So it worked out great, no one knows the Saw universe better than Leigh or James, so working with those two guys really made me feel more comfortable journeying into the sequel. 


Throughout the shoot, how much creative reign did you have on the film when taking into account the producers/distributors who were attentively looking over your shoulder?  

Actually, a lot.  I mean there were times where I was bitched slapped around.  But all in all they let me do my thing... Gregg Hoffman was always on set, and when he wasn't napping, or playing BRICK BREAKER on his Blackberry he really pitched in and made sure I got the shots I wanted. My vision. 

What would you say was your biggest obstacle within this shoot?

Living up to the hype of the first SAW.   Also money and time… Both of which you always hope to have more of.  We shot the film in 25 days, which is 7 more days than the first SAW but, by no means an easy shooting schedule.  It's the old adage, if I had 26 days, I would have wanted 27 - if I had 27 I would have wanted 28. 

What was your biggest surprise?

How much food in my minibar cost!  No joke, don't even think about eating a Snickers from a mini-bar... I learned the hard way!   Kids learn from my mistakes… Do not USE THE MINIBAR!!!  (sighs)  I think my biggest surprise came from the actors - how great everyone was to work with.  How much they all brought to the table.  I watched some of these people growing up on TV and then step into a soundstage and there they are, waiting for me... I love my cast!  They took our script to the next level - I was extremely lucky.

Visually, did you stay close to the first film’s vibe and at the same time, what did you do to make it your film? 

Yes, David Armstrong returns who shot the first film.  He was invaluable to me and the filming process.  He, like James and Leigh, insured the film had that same gritty feel and vibe as the first.  Charlie Clouser who created the score, Kevin Greutert, the editor, Dan Heffner one of the co-producers and all the TWISTED PICTURES boys also came back.  It was important to keep the original creative team.   SAW II is vastly different however from its predecessor, yet still thrives in the SAW universe.  James and I share a lot of the same influences, but at the end of the day we have different styles and approaches to ‘getting the shot’.

Are we in for a softer SAW then the original violence wise or a much rougher one? 

"OH YES, THERE WILL BE BLOOD", and a lot of it!  SAW II is definitely a lot more violent than the first; it’s much more unrelenting; from the second it begins, to the final frame.    But the movie plays on so many levels other than ’just violence’ - but that being said - don’t worry about the gore, cause it’s there.  And a hell’uva lot of it

Is the door left open for another sequel… if successful of course?

They don't tell me these types of things... I think any movie can have a sequel, regardless of if its left open for one or not... I mean how many times has JASON died... How many times did they blow up Jaws...?

I'd like to thank Darren for checking into the site and would like to wish him the best with SAW II. There's a lot of pressure on the man, this can make him or...well...not. We're rooting for ya tough guy!


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