Overnight Success

It’s been a while since I’ve written in this online journal. Over two months. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to post anything meaningful here due to a condition that I’ve been battling with… a condition that’s affected not only my writing, but my social and professional life, eating habits, and overall wellbeing.  A little over a week ago, I decided that enough was enough and that I needed to take control of the situation… so I put my mind to constructing a cure.


One steel strainer: check. One wooden dowel: check. Three clean towels: check. Three gallons of water: check.

Armed with the above supplies, I locked the doors to my studio, closed the blinds, turned up the radio, and chugged water until I felt I could burst. I then placed the strainer between my legs and the dowel between my teeth, and bit down, hard.

After many hours of wincing, heaving, and screaming, it was finally over: I’D PASSED A FEW MILESTONES!

Repo Anniversary

That’s right; November is the month of milestones. This past weekend marked the fifth anniversary of Repo! The Genetic Opera in movie theatres. It also signaled the conclusion of a year of collaborative songwriting with Saar Hendelman on the music and lyrics of The Devil’s Carnival: Episode Two.

Like most artistic endeavors, it’s the end result that’s celebrated (if you’re lucky). The journey towards that end result, however, including the slow and painful milestones along the way, are usually unsung, forgotten, or dismissed, as if all successes were in fact overnight ones.


Repo!‘s cinematic life was triggered five years ago this month, but the pilgrimage to bring The Genetic Opera to the big screen began seven years earlier. It included multiple live stage productions, a short film, and a whole lot of love and sweat from everyone involved over the years.

The film’s “overnight success” was launched in 2008, but even the post-filmmaking journey was wrought with struggles and sacrifice. To that end, one of the main reasons that there’s a five year film anniversary to celebrate is the relentless labors of Repo! fans and shadowcasts that for years have kept our underdog project alive and relevant—thank you, all!


My current musical film undertaking, The Devil’s Carnival, is newer, but—as those of you following the project know—its “success” thus far has taken considerably longer than overnight.

There have been a lot of mini and major milestones on The Devil’s Carnival adventure thus far, including the completion of the above-mentioned songwriting for the upcoming feature-length episode. This milestone includes twenty-two musical pieces—some traditional in song length, others brief incidental passages.


This songwriting voyage commenced just before Thanksgiving 2012 and ended only prior to Thanksgiving 2013. This three-hundred-and-sixty-some-odd-day-undertaking was crowned with a demo recording of all twenty-two numbers: a stripped down piano arrangement with Saar and I singing all of the parts. This demo is being used for copyright purposes and will serve as guide tracks by which the actors can learn their singing parts when the movie goes into production.

Saar’s and my demo recording exploits included a tracking session on Halloween night where we turned the porch and studio lights off to deter trick-or-treaters from making “guest appearances” on the album.


On the one hand, it’s exhilarating to be able to listen back to a recording of a year’s worth of artistic labors. In many ways, the recording validates our work.  It also allows us to clearly and concisely communicate our ideas with others. Most rewardingly, it moves the music from being hypothetical into something tangible.

On the other hand, it’s depressing to know that an important phase of an all-consuming artistic process is over. Further: the demo, while comprehensive, will remain incomplete until we’re able to produce the final soundtrack with expanded musical arrangements and performances. Lastly: as my friend and TDC collaborator, director Darren Lynn Bousman, was quick to point out when I handed him a demo CD, “It’s sad that an entire year’s worth of work can be distilled into one plastic disc.”


It’s equally daunting to realize that a thin plastic disc represents only one leg of the journey… one that began much, much earlier…

For example, prior to Saar and me beginning the episode’s songwriting venture together, months had already been spent drafting TDC2‘s script. This script served as an outline for the sorts of songs that would need to be written, and where each number needed to fall in the context of the overarching story.


Songwriting can be a grueling process. With a project like TDC, the songs not only need to be good, but also need to forward a plot and, in many instances, define the characters that occupy the world of that plot. As such, our collaborative process is quite involved.

Here’s a video of Saar and I describing our working relationship on TDC and the phases a musical idea goes through on its journey to becoming a full-fledged song.

Below is a screenshot of a section of the playlist created for our episode two song drafts. To arrive at the final twenty-two pieces featured on the demo, we explored over three-hundred discrete musical ideas, most of which were recorded on our cellphones as inspiration often strikes in inopportune situations (like at the grocery store, or while pumping gas). These raw recordings constitute over six-hours of material—the overwhelming majority of which will never see the light of day.


Songwriting trials and tribulations aside, I’m excited to share with you the news of our milestone passing. I’ll be even more excited to share with you the finished soundtrack once we reach that leg of the journey.

To celebrate our overnight songwriting success, Saar and I indulged in an evening of food and adult beverages at a Los Angeles restaurant named “The Hart and the Hunter”. It gets its namesake from Aesop’s Fable, which seemed an appropriate setting to commemorate a TDC milestone!

Hart and the Hunter

Who else is excited for new music?

  • Nightquest

    *me, me* I’m excited for new music and to see what else is in store. Congrats on the 5yr milestone as well =D

  • Pixelsheen

    YAY! Cannot wait for TDC2. The little teasers and such have held me over for a long time (along with repeated re-watchings of TDC and Repo!) but it’ll be lovely to get to hear all of the wonderful new stories and songs!

  • Poptart Demon

    I have successfully gotten my husband almost as excited for this as I am. I actually went and saw TDC on the original night of my wedding (we had to move it) so it holds more than one special place for me. Now I’m just bringing him over to it too. Can’t wait to hear/see more from TDC2 and congrats on passing your milestones!

  • werewolfkeeper

    Requiem for a gleet…milestone…? Mile-gleet?

    ALSO ME. I’M EXCITED. By songs and that which is my favourite (half-)Lucifer picture.

  • Michelle S

    I’m really excited to hear the new music. It’s such a long process to do all this, and it’s really amazing what you guys can create. I’m so excited to see all the work when it’s done.

  • Dani TheTutors Protege

    Thanks for the mental image from the very first part of your blog Terrance!

  • Hellie

    I´m so excited to hear anything new of TDC2 ! And thanks for the long blog entry :)
    Can´t wait to see/hear more of it

  • Jules

    Yay!! I’m so excited for you, can’t wait for The Devil’s Carnival episode two, and hearing about the production in between :)

  • Sierra Stevens

    Everytime you post something about DC2, I get super excited! :D Keep these teasers coming because I’m loving them!

  • Amber Lansaw

    Yay! Glad to hear things are coming along so well! Can’t wait to hear some of the new stuff! Congrats on milestone passings!

  • Jester

    Really excited! Thank you for sharing!

  • Jan Wilson

    Can’t wait.

  • Kellie Stewart

    We can’t wait for TDC’s second chapter. The teaser’s we’ve had in the last year from you and Darren have whetted our appetite. It has been such fun sharing and expanding the Repo and Devil’s Carnival armies through the conventions we come in to contact with. Can’t wait to see the new characters so I can get to sewing. My biggest costume accomplishment has been the Tamara dress I made for my daughter. Thank you for stirring my creative juices with you wonderful creations. Can’t wait!!!!

  • Arielle

    I’m still contemplating as to how it is humanly possible, to don half-made-up Lucifer face paint with a plastic bag tightly embracing your head…
    and still look absolutely handsome (plus, let’s just say it, hot beyond belief).
    Only you, Terrance. Only you.
    A grand CONGRATULATIONS on your several major milestones! I have somewhat recovered from the heartbreak and internal agony of not being able to meet you in Tampa, but alas my hope remains high for one day for being able to profess my love for you in person.
    (On a scale of 1 to 10, how creepy was that?)
    Repo! forever changed my life 5 years ago, and will always be one the greatest things that has ever happened to me.
    I cannot wait to see what glory becomes of TDC 2, and will be awaiting with baited breath for any further information that you feed our hungry souls.
    Until then, endless love and continued support for you and all that you pursue. <3

  • Jean-François Martel

    Very exciting news. It’s also really interesting to read about the creation process for the music of the film.

  • Kimmi

    Can’t wait to hear the new songs.. Just the taste you offered of the revision process at The Devil’s Carnival Screening in PDX was enough to leave a years worth of anticipation in my system. Cheers!

  • Jasmine Gergis

    Terrance used my photo of him and Saar! *fangirls*

  • Lovesickobsession19 .


  • leahbyrnes

    I am beyond excited! I need new music to obsess over and force on my friends until they love it. Congrats on passing those milestones!

  • wckdwtchn

    I fell into The Devil’s Carnival by accident and became an instant sinner. I have told everyone that will listen about your movies and cannot wait for more. You are a very talented person.

  • Libby

    Chin Music. The music of Terrance’s Jaw.

  • Tori

    Someone told me you used my photo of Darren taking the picture of the theatre here… I was not disappointed.

  • Heather Ann Dixon

    Stay away from drinking large quantities of Gatoraide or the like products because they contain pine sap to bind the color, flavor, and nutrients with the water. My dad trims trees professionally and started drinking a gallon before bed to help replenish his minierals but started having extreme pain and discomfort. His doctor informed him it was not stones causing the sand but the pine sap in his gatoraide that he mixed up at night. I am glad to hear you are feeling better though, I was worried Sunday in Tampa, you looked terribly out of it. Looking forward to opening night of TDC2.

  • Andy Ryuu

    I’m very excited for the new chapter! Keep up the great work!

  • Samantha Dutchie

    i love it when you quote jesus christ superstar ;D

  • Miss_Nikita

    Such a shame these events are not held within the UK there are many of us here who would love to attend and celebrate all this!

  • Brittani

    I’m so excited about the new music! Yay!

  • krisb

    So stoked for it all! Thankfully, the “OG’s” as you called us, have learned to be patient and persistent over the years. ;)

  • Shannon (Destiny)

    I’m probably not the first and I won’t be the last to say this: Leak a song from the demo…we need this…It’s SO difficult to be patient! Give us something to hold over!

  • yessikg

    kslfsjflkfjlsfjfsj I’m so excited! Give me TDC2 now *grabby hands*

  • Aspen

    Me! Me! I am! It’s my current consolation for having missed the Repo! revival performance in Phoenix. :(

  • Currer Bell

    I am EXTREMELY excited for new music. I miss you guys VERY much. :(

    I empathize with the queer feeling of realization when you look at a CD and it holds so much of your hard work… It was quite alarming and very surreal when I recorded a few audition songs and mailed out the CDs. So small, but incredibly significant!

  • Mandii

    Lol going to be totally selfish and agree…>.> Totally a fangirl thing of me to do.. That has to be a little unnerving for him though considering hes just a person like you or me. I can only imagine what its like to be in his shoes and have girls (like me) wanting to throw themselves at his feet lol I’ve never been this way about any actor musician or person in my entire life. Terrance you are a God and an amazing artist I’ve been here since before repo and will be watching from afar forever more :) (so stalkerish of me) Oh well its anon anyway………..and as for leaking a song in the first place :D.>.> isn’t that what he just did? LOL

  • Lisa Brown

    I have one question Terrance. Are you really wearing fuzzy zebra jammies holding the license plate?

  • Jessica Cha

    I’m stoked, T! Can’t wait for episode 2!!!

  • Winnipeg MB Repo!

    Terrance, next anniversary you need to trip across Canada too! You have a lot of Repo! fans across the north, not just in Toronto. Just give a heads up to the fan groups in each city to give time to poster the hell out of the cities and get the word out.

  • jared

    I’m waiting patiently… I loved the first movie and then I heard the second one was gonna have tech n9ne in it and now I have to see it!!!