Darren Lynn Bousman: And The Time Has Come For…Mother’s Day
May 2012 10

Darren Lynn Bousman: And The Time Has Come For…Mother’s Day

Posted In Blog,Entertainment,Movies

Long time friend of SuicideGirls, director Darren Lynn Bousman (who helmed the Saw franchise through films II, III and IV), recently took to his blog in defense of Mothers Day, a film that got trapped in Hollywood Hell. Here, Bousman explains the sheer horror he experienced while fighting tooth and nail to get his labor of love to the big screen. – SG Ed

AND THE TIME HAS COME FORE…MOTHER’S DAY
by Darren Lynn Bousman


”Time does not change us…It just unfolds us.”
- Max Frish

TIME MAKES THINGS CLEARER

On Friday May 4th, my film Mother’s Day is released in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. A few days later, the movie is released on DVD. It seems like a lifetime ago that I shot Mother’s Day. In reality it was just 3 years ago…

TIME…

Something I think we all wish we had more of. In my life I think time has become my biggest enemy. 24 hours is nowhere near enough time for me to do what needs to be done. While on The Devil’s Carnival Road Tour, our lives have become slaves to the clock. We have a preset schedule, and one that we can’t deviate from. Five minutes late to something throws off our entire day. I find myself constantly running to catch up… Answer emails…Finish scripts…Spend time with the family. Time moves forward regardless of how much I protest…

In some cases however, the passage of time is a blessing…Time heals all wounds, makes us forget, or, allows us a chance to reflect. Three years is an abundance of time. A lot can happen in 36 months: wars have been fought and lost, relationships have blossomed and then been destroyed, children have been conceived, born, and taken their first steps. In the case of Mother’s Day, 3 years was the amount of time it took me to become disillusioned with the filmmaking process.

LET’S REWIND

We wrapped production in 2009. At the time, we had all hoped to have the film done and completed for a Mother’s Day 2009 release. However midway through production it became clear that that would never happen. We all decided to take a breath, and do what was right by the film, make the movie perfect and release it in 2010.

After the festival circuit we sold the movie to a company, who will remain unnamed. Said company gave us a sweetheart deal and promised us the world. 1,000 screens. A sizeable P and A (prints and advertising) buy. Things were looking good.

Things began to look better in 2010 when we tested the movie in Chatsworth and we exceeded what the company was expecting. For those out there unaware on how the testing process works, take a seat and allow me to shed some light onto the filmmaking process.

Once you finish a movie and sell it, the company who buys it usually requests the film be ‘tested.’ What this means is they want to gauge how a film plays to ‘Middle America.’ As a filmmaker, it’s one of the most nerve wracking – vomit inducing – wanna blow your brains out experiences. Literally they recruit an audience, and play your film, and then ask them to rate it, and give mini reviews on it.

EVERYONE’S A CRITIC

But in the case of testing, this score that is produced from the test screening holds so much weight it makes me physically ill. What is worse, as the director, I have to silently sit in the back of the audience and blend in, and listen, as this audience picks apart every aspect of the film. I have learned to cope with the testing process with the help of my good friend Jack Daniels. He has gotten me through many an awkward screening.

After the misfire testing of Repo! The Genetic Opera – I was considering bypassing the Jack Daniels and going straight to the Heroin. When we tested Repo!, we scored a jaw dropping 13. To put this in perspective, of the audience that came out to see the test screening, only 13 percent approved of what they saw.

YOU CAN’T HELP BUT FALL

This was the first time since being kicked in the balls with REPO that I had to journey back to Chatsworth and put my soul out to be judged with 300 theater-goers who would basically determine the fate of Mother’s Day.

The next two hours were the single worst two hours of my filmmaking career. So much was riding on this one screening. So much would be determined based on what this one audience thought. I didn’t have the courage to even sit in the theater. I found a bar in the parking lot, and nursed drink after drink trying to work up enough courage to hear what the audience thought of my new endeavor. My head was POUNDING. Nerves were shot.

I have seemed to thrive in the cult film world. Repo propelled me forward with my rabid fan base of cult musical lovers. I owe them everything. But nothing would make me happier than having one mainstream hit – just one film that propelled me forward that was not SAW.

When I arrived back at the test screening, the movie was ending and the questionnaires were being filled out. Mr. Daniels, please don’t let your courage juice run out. The next 15 minutes were unbearable. The waiting. Did I have another REPO score on my hand? I had so many feelings raging through my body. But the reality was my fate was already determined. I was powerless to stop what was coming.

I am a fan of Mother’s Day. I really am proud of this movie. I was proud of it going into the test screening, but I became infinitely more proud of it when the scores were revealed and we had almost double the expectations given to us from the studio who purchased the film. Our score was considerably above norm. And my highest tested film.

I remember looking back at the studio’s reaction when the score was read. It was a mixture of bewilderment and excitement. Part of me wanted to high five the film’s producer Richard Saperstein. But instead, I sat there cool and collected. Of course it tested well.

When the audience left the theater, and the business men were all that were left, a feeling of jubilation overtook the empty auditorium. “We’ve got something here,” the main guy said. He winked at me. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. For the first time in years, I really felt confident in the future, and in my career.

The next morning I received an email informing me that the company had decided to expand its theatrical commitment from 1,000 screens to 2,000 screens. They also were upping their P and A budget! Finally, something positive.

For the next few months I was on cloud 9. At that point in my career I was just a director; my job is to direct a film, and edit the film, and finally turn in a film. Once the movie leaves my hands I have little to no control left. I moved on to other projects. I moved to Spain and starting filming my new movie. I didn’t realize until almost 10 months later something was rotten in Denmark. My emails were not being answered, I was seeing a lack of promotion for Mother’s Day 2010. Panic set in.

I will spare you the ugly dramatics. But to shorten a very long story, the company who had picked up my baby had internal issues. “Issues” is as far as I will go in explanation, but their issues crippled the Mother’s Day 2010 release.

It was a knife to the gut. Like being stabbed by a friend. For over a year we had worked with this company who sold us all a bill of false goods. Rage would not be a strong enough word for what I was feeling inside. I had been promoting the hell out of this movie. I had been to festivals. I had done countless interviews promoting a date that had come and gone.

WHAT IS THAT SMELL??? IS THAT THE SMELL OF A TAINTED FILM???

Once a film misses its date, a stigma is attached to it. Something MUST be wrong with it. But for me, what was much worse than looking like a douche promoting a film that had missed its date, was letting down the actors who all had turned in AMAZING performances. I had become close with the entire cast, and in my opinion there was not a weak link in the entire ensemble. We had all been anxiously counting down the days for our premiere. We were all proud. We had surpassed just working together. We were friends. The cast came to my wedding. They were my friends.

It was the first time in my career where I actually felt ashamed. Utterly embarrassed. Mortified even. I had been hyping this film for over a year now. I had been teasing the cast with this amazing release we were going to have. In one moment, everything shattered.

What do I tell Rebecca DeMornay? Rebecca had just turned in this tour de force that was nothing short of riveting. What do I tell Deborah Ann Wohl, or Shawn Ashmore? What about Jaime King? This girl gives one of her VERY best performances, and she was counting on this. What the hell do I tell Frank Grillio? Or worst yet, what will Brett Ratner think of me? This guy trusted me. He trusted that I would deliver him a hit.

What was worse than missing our date, was not knowing WHY we missed our 2010 release. And what did that mean to the fate of our film? Months passed, and then more months. No new dates were scheduled. I found myself becoming more and more of a recluse, as I dreaded showing my face anywhere and inevitably getting, “Yo bro, when’s Mother’s Day coming out?”

Every single I interview I did always would start with, “So Darren, can you talk about what is happening with Mother’s Day?” I dreaded doing press. I dreaded seeing my friends. I dreaded seeing the cast.

A REALITY CHECK

You are only as good as your last film. Repo! was considered a commercial failure. And now my next film was on its way to being a paper weight on some shelf.

My career is over. Offers stopped coming in. Movies fired me. Literally fired me. Why? My foreign sales number dropped.

As a director you are only as important as your foreign numbers. Repo! tanked overseas, and now my latest film was missing its release in America – thus affecting its foreign overseas value. Thus hurting my business. My business is my name. All I had worked for was crumbling. I bleeding out. All WE had worked for was lost. I was watching the world change around me. Doors were not only closing. They were locking. How did this happen? Mother’s Day is good film…

MY OWN WORST ENEMY

I have a reputation in Hollywood of being difficult. There, I said it. I get it. I am difficult. Very difficult. I send TONS of emails and cause a raucous when films I have worked on for YEARS get dismissed. Thrown out, and discarded. I fight back. I get in a van. I drive across the country. I create an Army. I make noise.

But isn’t that my job as a director? Not to accept. Not to be complacent. Fight as hard as I can to get the ART seen? I will never be the guy who sits back and accepts. Not any more. Not ever again. When I believe in something, I fight for it. People were counting on me. Investors, actors, producers. Lloyd Kaufman was counting on me. Troma was counting on me. My failure was Epic.

In 2011, after I had all but given up on anyone in America seeing the film, Anchor Bay stepped up to the plate. By this time we had left Studio 1, realizing we had already been burned numerous times. Two years had passed, and there was such a complicated and dramatic stigma attached to the flick, I was not only surprised, but amazed by their balls taking on a project that had basically been homeless for years.

Here we are now, Mother’s Day 2012, and the film is FINALLY seeing the light of day. Granted it’s only in 3 theaters, but that is three more theaters than I was expecting given the hardships the film had faced. I applaud Anchor Bay for breathing back life into a film that I truly think deserves to be seen. They are my Knight in BLACK GOTHIC ARMOUR. Thank you for allowing Rebecca DeMornay’s performance to see the light of day. Thank you for putting out a film, in which I truly stand behind every single performance.

I will be first to say, this is not going to be everyone’s favorite. In fact, there are numerous critics out there who proclaim this is “BOUSMAN’S WORST!” But let them call me names, and attack my “amateur directing” all they want. I don’t give a fuck. I am proud of Mother’s Day.

Some things are worth fighting for.

Mother’s Day was worth fighting for.

Dlb

Pre-order Mother’s Day on DVD here.

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  1. [...] goes into deep detail, chronicling the journey of a movie that wrapped in 2009 and didn’t see the light of day until 2012. It’s a must-read piece [...]

  2. [...] output instead of bickering and bad blood behind the scenes. Fortunately for us, Bousman’s a frank and earnest relater of what must have been an incredibly frustrating situation for him to find himself in, especially coming out of the marketing clusterfuck that was Repo!. [...]