How to Sell Your Own Damn Movie, Why Piracy is Good, and My New Best Friend. My Hour with Lloyd Kaufman
by Daniel Engelke
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Discovering Troma Films during my adolescence, I can safely say the infamous and often bizarre works from the company still find a home on my Netflix queue. When I found out I had the opportunity to not only review the new book from Troma founder, Lloyd Kaufman, but interview him, I jumped for joy.
Sell Your Own Damn Movie is Lloyd’s fourth cinematic instruction manual. Fittingly located after the Make, Direct, and Produce Your Own Damn Movie, the latest book in the series teaches all the tools of the trade on how to market your own independent production. Filled with detours for every production road block and comical insights from Kaufman himself, Sell Your Own Damn Movie is a desert island necessity for any independent filmmaker.
Anyways, if Lloyd can teach you how to Sell Your Own Damn Movie he can certainly talk about his own damn book! Here’s my interview with with Lloyd Kaufman:
Film Monthly: So, I just finished the book a few days ago. Loved it. Graduating from film school myself, the book wasn’t necessarily a “behind-the-scenes” look at the film industry, but “more of a comedy of errors and how to avoid them.” Saying that, what made you start the “…Your Own Damn Movie” series?
Lloyd Kaufman: Well Michael Herz and I have spent a lot of our energy trying to support independent art and commerce. When that became successful, we decided to try and help independent artists against industry consolidation. With the big media corporations destroying laws against monopolization, it’s becoming harder to make money from your art if you have anything controversial or visionary to say. We want to show people that you can indeed make money for your art and not have to work for people like Rupert Murdoch. So, while making our own damn movies, we would impart knowledge on the younger generation on how-to as well.
Film Monthly. With one of the biggest filmographies I’ve ever seen, it appears you’ve played a lot of different parts in studio and independent films. What do you like so much about helping in all these productions?
Lloyd Kaufman: Well, part of it is because I’m a big ham, but it was also educational as well. Working on films like Rocky, Saturday Night Fever, and Slowdancing in the Big City taught me a lot about filmmaking.
-Brief interlude while Lloyd questions the whereabouts of my water. “We run a very efficient watering system here at Troma.”
Lloyd Kaufman: Anyways, more recently, fans of Troma have invited me to appear in their movie to get our followers to see the film. Why not? If the six people who like Troma want to buy your DVD, and our fans are very loyal, all six of them, then that’s great! Also, if the filmmaker says that Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman is in the film, maybe they can also gain some more notable actors as well.
-Another interlude as the water arrives. “Oh beautiful. Deluxe package. Usually we only give people the 99 cent corner store water, but you got Dasani.”
Film Monthly: Speaking of up-and-coming filmmakers, making movies when film was the only medium, how do you feel about cinema’s transfer over to the digital age?
Lloyd Kaufman: Well, up until recently I’ve been a firm advocate of 35-millimeter because I like the way it looks, but as you know in the book I have a violent argument with my co-writer over which is better. Real nasty fight, we were very hostile to each other. In fact, I still hate him. Lately though, I’ve come around to digital cinema because the quality is just so great. With the Red camera and even the smaller cameras, it’s really quite remarkable. I think it’s great because it’s really democratized filmmaking. You don’t have to be rich to make a movie anymore! And, unless Michael Herz disagree with me, Toxic Avenger Part IV will be shot on digital.
Film Monthly: I definitely agree. It’s great for artists because it allows for easier access to the medium. In the book you advocate the use of net piracy. What makes you defend the “un-lawful” deed so much?
Lloyd Kaufman: That is one of the main themes of the book. Filmmakers should remember that you need people’s eyelids. So many young artists are worried that their film is being pirated. Listen, if some fat kid took a break from X-Files to watch my movie, I’d be down on my knees thanking him. You want people to watch your movie. The idea that pirating is bad comes from the same conglomerates who are getting rid of the monopoly laws. Artists should be able to look at the art they want to see! Thomas Jefferson was a fan of this, but Michele Bachmann isn’t. You take your pick.
Film Monthly: Oh, very true. Well thank you very much, Lloyd. Definitely read Lloyd Kaufman’s Sell Your Own Damn Movie so you can literally sell your own damn movie.
Lloyd Kaufman: You’re welcome. Did you want to get a picture with me and Toxie?
Film Monthly: Yes.
Daniel Engelke is a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago’s Film & Video program. He resides in New York as a freelance writer and videographer. With expertise in French & British New Wave Cinema and Italian Neo-Realism, Daniel also works as a director and intern for Edward Bass Films.
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