22nd October 2009

‘Toxic Avenger’ Creator a Champion of Independent Film

posted in News |

Taken from the Houston Chronicle.
See the full article by CLICKING HERE!

The president of Troma Entertainment, responsible for such gagtastic gems at Toxic Avenger, Tromeo & Juliet and Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, wants you follow your dream of making your own movie, but he is worried about independent cinema.

Although he has two books aimed at helping directors and producers get started, Lloyd Kaufman says it would be heard to duplicate Troma Entertainment’s success in today’s film world.

“Troma was created in 1974. In those days and through pretty much the late ’80s if you had something the public wanted to see, you could get to the public. Today it’s virtually impossible to get something that is commercially viable to the public without going through one of the major conglomerates,” Kaufman said. He lists Sony, Viacom, Time Warner, News Corporation and Disney as evil corporations in his latest book, Produce Your Own Damn Movie! (Focal Press, $19.95).

“The Toxic Avenger was made for very little money. We had no money to promote it. Yet miracle of miracles, it ended up with 2,000 movie theaters. There were three sequels,” Kaufman said. There also was an animated cartoon for kids, and The Toxic Avenger musical playing off-Broadway recently announced a 2010 national tour.

However, Citizen Toxie and Troma’s latest, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, didn’t get the same access to audiences because conglomerates control what appears in theaters and on television, he said.

The last open playground for independents is the Internet, and as president of the Independent Film & Television Alliance, Kaufman is a watchdog for net neutrality.

“I’ve been doing everything I can to raise the consciousness with the lawmakers, the public, the FCC, anywhere we can, that independent art is under assault,” Kaufman said.

However, Kaufman doesn’t want independent filmmakers to give up. “There are ways to do it. It’s just a lot more difficult,” Kaufman said.

The filmmaker attended Houston’s Crypticon Horror Convention for a screening of Poultrygeist, to talk to filmmakers in a master class based on his earlier book Direct Your Own Damn Movie! and meet fans that have kept Troma afloat.

“In real life we only have about 12 paid employees, but in reality we have probably several million unpaid fans who go out and talk about us and promote our movies,” Kaufman said. “We have a mini micro brand.” That brand is slapstick and satire coated with gore.

For Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Troma has added musical comedy plus projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea.

“It’s a unique film. There’s nothing else like it,” Kaufman said. “But also it’s an important sociological satire in that hopefully it will get young audiences talking about the evils of the fast-food industry and a number of political issues too.”

Kaufman’s message to independent filmmakers is to stick to your ideals and persevere.

“I think the key lesson is that if idiots like us can make movies about hideously deformed creatures of superhuman size and strength like The Toxic Avenger and Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, which are really unbelievably extreme,” Kaufman said. “If we can make those kinds of movies and keep going, then there’s no reason why anybody can not make movies and succeed especially in an age of digital technology.”

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