INT: Darren Bousman

You've really got to hand it to Darren Lynn Bousman. After a successful run with the SAW franchise- Bousman could have easily made his first post-SAW project a big budget studio horror film. Instead, he decided to make something personal and daring. The result is REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA- a rock opera that takes place in a world where a mass epidemic of organ failures has crippled society.

The organ trade is now run for profit under the villainous Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino), and his three psychotic offspring (Bill Mosely, Ogre of Skinny Puppy, and the one & only Paris Hilton). If Rotti's customers are unable to make their payments- their organs are repossessed by the dreaded Repo Man (Anthony Head), who's been forced into Rotti's employ as a way to protect his sick daughter- Shiloh (Alexa Vega).

REPO! had it's world premiere at the FANTASIA FILM FEST in Montreal, and director Bousman & star Alexa Vega were on hand for the premiere. They also graciously made time for an interview with yours truly. Despite my reservations towards the film, I was impressed by the obvious passion the two share for the film- and it's obvious that both are proud of the finished result.


Chris Bumbray (interviewer): Are you guys excited for the big show tonight (the Fantasia world premiere- which took place Friday July 18th)?

Darren Lynn Bousman: I'm super, super excited. You know- this had been nine years in the making and tonight is the first time we're going to show it to anyone. You know, I've never had a film in a festival. The SAW films were the first features I ever did- and luckily they went theatrical. I'm excited to be a part of something like this.

CB: So after the SAW movies- what made you decide to do a musical- which I presume is not the usual follow up to that type of film?

DLB: When I came to LA, I was that very arrogant guy who said he'd never do a sequel or a remake- I want to be original. My idols are Jim Jarmusch & David Lynch- here are guys that are so unique in what they do. I was very honored to be a part of the SAW franchise- but then I did Saw 3, and then 4, and now I'm attached to every remake in the world. I'm becoming that guy I didn't want to be- and I wanted to do something that's so vastly different and unique, something that's personal to me. I LOVE musicals, and I wanted to put my own spin on that, and jump out of this cookie-cutter sequel, remake kind of thing. Everyone wants to see something fresh and original- that's what the fans want to see. I'm a horror fan, and I wanted to see something unique and original- so that's what I did.

CB: Would you say you were inspired by THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, or rock opera's like TOMMY?

DLB: Yeah- I'll list my top three favorite movies and you'll see where I come from. JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, BRAZIL, & BLADE RUNNER. I try to do a mash up/homage to those movies. Especially BRAZIL- because it's so weird that when you're watching it, you're like "what the FUCK just happened!!!", and it looks beautiful and the characters are unique. And ROCKY HORROR… I’ve lost track of how many times I've seen it. I wanted to do a film that encourages audience participation. The more people hear the music- they'll get it. We have a very straight-laced producer- and he's seen it four times, and the last time I could see him tapping his foot to the music- and this is the most straight-laced dude in the world. I could only hope and dream that it'll become that type of phenomenon.

CB: Alexa, what brought you to the film?

Alexa Vega: Well, the girl who runs my MySpace page told me that there's the guy emailing me saying he wants me to read his script. Originally I told her to ignore it, but he sent along another message saying he directed the SAW films. My little sister was in SAW 1- so I asked her-- was the director a guy named Darren. She said no- so I thought this guy's crazy! But then I found out he did the sequels. At the time I was doing HAIRSPRAY on Broadway- he came to the show and we talked about it, and he gave me this comic book version of the script that broke everything down. He also gave me a DVD of the short film he made for it, and I watched it with my best friend Alyssa. We both freaked out, and at one point we had to stop it so Alyssa could double lock the door because she was scarred! So it grabbed her right away, and then I really got into it, so I emailed him and told him I HAD to be in it. It's raw & edgy and exactly what I'm looking for.

DLB: This movie is so weird and eccentric, and eclectic- that the casting had to be the same way...

AV: Yeah, we're all a little off...

DLB: Exactly, including Sarah Brightman, Paul Sorvino, etc. But everyone is the first choice. They left me alone to cast whoever I wanted, and the first person I cast was Bill Mosely because I'm a huge DEVIL'S REJECTS fan, and then Alexa. Then it just started happening. Everyone fell in place. Sarah Brightman was easy- I thought she'd be the hardest.

CB: Yeah, I thought it was neat you had her in it...

DLB: I couldn't believe it! We were looking at another Opera singer- but someone said, why don't you just go for Sarah Brightman? I thought there was no way she'd do it- but I sent her a script on a Friday- by Monday she was calling saying she loved it, saying "Darren it's LOVELY", I was totally star struck. And Paul Sorvino too- read it once and said "I'm in!"

CB: I was surprised by how well he sang opera.

DLB: He's actually a classically trained opera singer. And Anthony Head- he was my number one choice from the beginning.


CB: Yeah- I'm a hard core Buffy fan too...

DLB: What did you think of him in the movie?

CB: I thought he was great- I remember him from the musical Buffy episode...


CB: Yeah, and I remember watching that thinking he could really sing...

DLB: Anthony Head is my hero and I have a man crush on him.

AV: So easy to work with- makes work so much easier when you have great people to work with. That's what was great about this film- everyone was prepared and ready to go. Paris Hilton surprised me! I was impressed.

DLB: People don't realize what goes into a film like this. We had to have the music done months before we started filming- people had to lip-synch to themselves. All the music was recorded months before in a studio.

AV: You really had to do your homework- you couldn't change it on the set. We'd record different versions- I had no idea what they'd use until a week before filming.

DLB: We'd do twenty takes on each song- it was like being a rock star for a month I was sitting in the studio with these rock icons- like Filter & Ogre. I had no idea what went into the production of an album. That took us three months, and then we rehearsed for three weeks. It was so low- budget, less than any of the SAW movies...

CB: Really, because it looked much more elaborate...

DLB: Much less- we had only two takes for everything, and we re-used SAW sets. It was a labor of love for everyone involved- so we got a lot for free. The costumes were donated, the sets were from SAW. When I did SAW IV- I made a list of sets for it that I knew I'd need for REPO! I said- I need a mausoleum for the opening, and they'd be like "why?", and I'd insist we need it- but really we didn't- I needed it for this! This is the most running gun movie I've done. For a movie like this you'd usually get two days a song- we had to do three songs a day. We had to know everything BEFORE walking onto the set.

AV; People worked really hard and put their heart & soul into it. That's why we've got fans rooting for it.

DLB: That's what will make or break the film- because it's a real love it or hate it film. Many will hate it, others will love it. It comes down to the fans. It's a weird acquired taste. If people understand that= they'll appreciate it more...

CB: Well, it might be one of those films that people will like more on repeat viewings...

DLB: Well it's like a foreign language- you need to become accustomed to what's going on. It's all sung, and the whole plot is revealed in song.

CB: What kind of release are you doing? Halloween?

DLB: It comes out Nov.7- the size of the release depends on the response out of Fantasia. The soundtrack comes out Sept. 30th, which is great because it'll give people time to get used to the music.

CB: You going to hit the road with it

DLB: We're going to Sitges...

AV: And Comicon...

DLB- Yeah, next week. We'll have a huge viral campaign around the music to prepare them. If you walk into it without being familiar with what it is- you’ll be ready to vomit- makes it more exciting if you know the music.

CB: Of course, I have to ask the Paris Hilton question...

DLB: We should just always start with that- she was a nig surprise. What people think they no about her is not who she is. She's not the dumb blond, she's articulate & smart, and she hangs which I couldn't believe. When we hired her- my big concern was that she'd stay in some penthouse suite, and she'd never hang with the cast. But no- she stayed at the same hotel with us, same rooms- ate at the same shitty restaurants and drank beer with us. She was part of the team. She's promoting the hell out of it- was at every rehearsal, never late, knew her lines. And when you look at the movie, she transformed herself. She was great!

CB: The film was pretty heavy duty- did you get an R-rating?

DLB- Yeah we got an R. Making it a musical helped it- because we have a suspension of disbelief.

CB: Did people pretty much leave you alone to do what you wanted?

DLB: Well, it was a very hard process- because no one knew what they were getting into. Lionsgate & Twisted Pictures trusted me after our great relationship during the SAW movies - and when we showed the first cut- people were totally silent. They were like "where's the talking?". I asked them if they read the script- and there was silence. But after time they really understood what I was making. They were expecting- to a degree another Saw, but that's not what they got- but they've been great with it...

CB: What's next- REPO 2?

DLB: I wish...

AV: That would be AMAZING!

DLB: I'd love to do it. I'm working with Dimension next. I'm NOT doing SCANNERS- I want that on the record.

CB: Yeah- we were wondering about that here in Canada- that's our proudest moment in film...

DLB: Yeah- I'm not doing it. But I'm working with them- but it's too early to say what the project is. I'm also working on a comic book that I'm excited about with Terence Zudnich (who also wrote, produced and starred in REPO!), and we're writing a script for it at the same time- but I can't really talk about it- too early.

CB: How about you Alexa?

AV: I just got back from Australia where I did a film called BROKEN HILL- another film with music. I'm hooked now. Right before that I did a film in Chicago called HELIX which was all shot in one-take. It's about a kidnapping- the hardest film I've ever worked on. I had to run two miles in and hour and a half, barefoot. I could not feel my feet. One continuous take. Eight consecutive days, doing it over & over- one take a day. The second day of filming I dislocated my shoulder- but we had to keep filming. I've done drama before- but it's easy when you a break it up- but the continuous take wears you out. I'm beaten up in one scene- the camera would pan to the person beating me up, while off-screen they'd be smearing make up on my face!

DLB: Why the hell didn't I think of that!

AV: It's my twenty year old roommate...Pretty exhausting.

CB: Well guys- good luck tonight...

DLB: I'm super-excited.

CB: Is the film locked?

DLB: More or less- the credits are temporary, and some of the VFX might need a bit more work. But we had to cut so much out. You talk about director's cuts- there's so much I took out of this. Some of my favorite songs got cut- watch out for the Director's cut!

Thanks again to Darren Lynn Bousman & Alexa Vega for being generous with their time, and to Michael Oliver Harding for setting this up.



Source: AITH

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