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Two Days In Tromaville

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2003-11-12

Lloyd Kaufman

Lloyd Kaufman

Recently I had the chance to attend a two-day movie making seminar in London run by The Screenwriter's Store with Lloyd Kaufman, head of the independent film studio Troma.

Entitled Make Your Own Damn Movie! (also the title of Kaufman's recent book) the course saw Kaufman sharing the secrets of his success, and talking us through a career that has spanned three decades and includes such cult classics as The Toxic Avenger and Sgt Kabukiman NYPD.

The first day of the course focused on how to actually go about making a film on a budget, with Kaufman using filmed examples and drawing upon his own experiences of making inexpensive, independent films. How not to obtain permits to film on location, how to attempt to raise money for projects and how to make fake blood out of a mix of pasta sauce, cranberry jelly, red food colouring and hamburger meat were all on the agenda, while Kaufman punctuated proceedings with questions from attendees - a mix of hardcore Troma devotees and would-be filmmakers wanting to get their own project off the ground. The day finished with a screening of Apocalypse Soon: The Making Of Citizen Toxie, which showed the ups and downs of filming the fourth instalment in the Toxic Avenger Franchise.

On to day two, and this time Kaufman covered the business of marketing and publicity. Given they have no money to promote their films, Troma generally resorts to more unusual methods, from announcing the arrival of new films on citywide pub crawls, to taking over the Cannes Film Festival for an annual parade featuring volunteers dressed as Troma's best known characters.

It was Cannes that formed the basis of the afternoon's entertainment, a screening of the documentary film All The Love You Cannes. This follows the Troma team as they use somewhat unorthodox methods to grab the linelight at the world's most famous film festival. Some of it might offend those of a sensitive disposition but for the most part it was very funny.

Which just about sums up the event itself, really. While Kaufman's brand of filmmaking may not be for all tastes, he's an engaging speaker with a pleasing sense of irony, and you'd be hard pressed to find someone who has a greater knowledge of film than him. He's obviously proud of having resisted the lure of Hollywood and remained independent - and his obvious dislike for much of what goes on in Tinseltown was all too obvious.

Between talks and screenings, he was open and approachable, finding the time to talk to attendees, sign DVDs and other material, and answer questions. But it was his central message which was the most inspiring aspect of all - that if you really want to 'make your own damn movie' you shouldn't let anything stand in your way. Between the emphasis on over-the-top special effects and juvenile behaviour in French hotels, I learned a lot.

Thanks to: Johanna Reder and Rinaldo Quacquarini at The Screenwriter's Store. For more information, visit: www.screenwriterstore.co.uk

Related links:

Interview with Lloyd Kaufman