With a generation of young people bogged down by mounting student loans and the growing cost of education, the prospect of going to film school to become an “aspiring” filmmaker seems downright horrifying. So why not leave it up to the always horrific Troma Films to create the most independent, potentially ridiculous, but then again, most exciting alternative in years? As of yesterday, Troma has launched “Your Own Damn Channel” on YouTube, offering lessons straight from Lloyd Kaufman himself. The President of the longest running independent film studio in U.S. history (that’s right – Troma) is offering free online classes on everything from financing to producing to selling your own “damn” movie.
Followers of the studio might remember that Kaufman recently published a book on the subject of independent filmmaking (Make Your Own Damn Movie!), and the studio also produces a series of DVDs under the same title. But in the spirit of “independence,” it would seem that Troma thought it best to offer this series of lectures free to the public.
And it’s not just Kaufman giving his advice – segments for the channel will include interviews and lessons from Troma alumni like James Gunn (Slither), Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park, Cannibal! The Musical, The Book of Mormon), Eli Roth (Hostel), George Romero (Night of the Living Dead), Roger Corman (The Little Shop of Horrors, House of Usher) and David Cronenberg (Cosmopolis, The Fly). That list alone might be enough to make a lot of film school vets wish for at least some of their tuition back. But thankfully, Troma’s efforts are available to any and all: film school drop-outs, graduates, or members of the movie-going public. And of course, this should serve as a reminder to those doubters of the infamous B-movie studio’s credibility that Troma produced some of these heavyweight filmmaker’s earliest work.
Established in 1974, Troma is the baby of Kaufman and Michael Herz – Yale alumni, believe it or not. Some of their greatest hits include The Toxic Avenger (1984), Class of Nuke’em High (1986), and Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006). While Kaufman’s probably best known to fans as the guy in the tacky intros to Troma DVDs, he does have nearly forty years in the business. And while Troma may never produce an Oscar-winner, it has something a lot of Hollywood studio movies never will – an independent spirit.
You can check into the Troma film school – for FREE – every Friday on YouTube. Right now, watch Jenna Fischer (The Office) talk about directing her first film Lollilove. Want work samples? More than 250 of the studio’s films are also streaming for your viewing pleasure – just don’t forget to take notes.