With 800 titles available in their catalogue, New York based Lloyd Kaufman has made a huge success of Troma. He's done it by putting his tush to the seat and just doing it. The author of Make Your Own Movie, Produce Your Own Movie and Direct Your Own Movie from Focal Press, his advice to new filmmakers is "Be passionate about what you're doing. You don't have to go to film school to learn how to make a movie. " With the access of the internet and all the new (relatively inexpensive) technology available, you don't have to wait to develop relationships in Hollywood. As someone who gave a start to Kevin Costner in Sizzle Beach USA, Lloyd likes taking little known but talented young people and giving them roles and jobs on his films.
One of his tricks in shooting low budget is to take a locale that is seldom used. The people are so excited about being in a movie that they will often give you locations, etc for free. Then you can throw every penny onto the screen. This includes special effects, as were used in The Return to Nuke'Em High. This was $500,000 but a film that his associate Justin Martell just did "Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical" was done for as little as $3,500! Father's Day was done for only $15,000.
A lot of the films are somewhat raunchy and are designed to appeal to the young male audience.
Lloyd comes up with most of the ideas, himself, often out of today's headlines, and then partners with other writers once he has the theme and story worked out. He does films about gay lifestyle, bullying, women's rights, and even healthy eating. "Entertainment mingles with education. Writers are the real talent. Writing is the hard part. They don't get their just respects since it all starts with the story." All of Lloyd's stories, even if they seem to be parodies or take offs, have a message. Look at Toxic Avenger, the story of the teen who fell into a vast of toxic waste. It now has comic books, a musical and several sequels.
A Yale graduate, his family wanted him to go into business, but he got hooked on filmmaking. "Family might not approve of what you are doing. You have to be around people who support you. The biggest problem is that parents often don't think you're serious about making the movie. When you finish the project - the movie or the script you are writing, your parents will see.
As far as directing, he says that there are no real secrets. "People want to make it seem mysterious, but it's not. I let the actors lead me where they want to go and trust their instincts. I don't give them a lot of instruction."
He does do distributing of other films and each film is a case by case situation. "Often filmmakers are not realistic about what to expect. Just because they have made the film, doesn't mean it gets a theatrical release." In fact, it doesn't have to go into the theatre. You don't always break even by going to a theatre because there is so much more P & A that has to be done. He doesn't mind file sharing and YouTube because all that means is, by word of mouth, his films are getting out there. Poultrygeist, which opened in only one theatre, was one of the highest grossing in America. "You can't deal with the studio system without getting fucked."
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