Lloyd Kaufman:Make Your Own Damn Movie (St. Martin’s Griffin)

Lloyd Kaufman, the cofounder of Troma Studios, was approached by Penguin Putnam some six or seven years ago to write a how-to on the subject of independent filmmaking. The book that he wound up turning in to them, All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger, read more like a guide to Troma's greatest hits, and not much like an instructional guide at all. Now Kaufman is two films further into his 25-plus film career (Terror Firmer and Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV are his most recent), and he has finally written his tome about how to make an independent film.

An important distinction to be made here is that Kaufman gives advice not just on how to make an independent film, but on how to make a Troma film, which is not much like any other independent film you are likely to see. If you are unfamiliar with the films of Troma, they are usually made up of a minimum of three distinct criteria, among others: they will have an unbelievable amount of violence, which is shot in maybe the most unrealistic but somehow more disgusting fashion possible (Kaufman's films in particular are notorious for having head crushings in them, and this is accomplished by hollowing out a cantaloupe, then filling it with raw hamburger and Karo syrup, dressing it up so that it could pass for a human head in the editing process, and then violently smashing it on camera); they have so much sex and nudity that calling it gratuitous does not do it justice (witness a chapter title in Make Your Own Damn Movie: "Chapter Four: Get Your Women Nekkid and Other Invaluable Casting Tips"); and they have funny titles (my favorites are attached to otherwise horrible films: Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator and Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid).

Make Your Own Damn Movie, assuming you don't mind making a Tromaesque film, is actually pretty ideal for those who are wanting to make or making a film in a city that is not New York or Los Angeles, as Lloyd gives sound advice on how to weasel money out of people who are still impressed by the potential glitz factor of having their name in the credits of a movie. Furthermore, Kaufman does know how to make the most (or least, if you prefer) with a small budget; he claims that Citizen Toxie's budget was less than that of the original Toxic Avenger, which was made more than 15 years ago on $475,000 (he hasn't disclosed Citizen Toxie's budget)-which, by comparison, is about 2% of the budget of Glitter. His legal advice is equally credible to his financial advice, as his father is a lawyer who has taken care of Troma's legal concerns for years, and can, as a result, point to the many loopholes that one can jump through to get a film made quicker, cheaper, and with less hassles from the law.

Aside from all of the advice, from how to weasel dentists out of large sums of money to how to make realistic fake poop, Lloyd has not forgotten to include what made All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned from The Toxic Avenger such a fun book to read-the horror stories from production. Where else can one expect to hear stories of losing a filming permit for having a fat man run naked through Times Square?

Make Your Own Damn Movie will undoubtedly appeal to two groups of people: Troma fans and poor, would-be filmmakers struggling to make a movie. Make is well suited to both of these groups, as well as many others. Kaufman does not use much technical jargon (perhaps because he doesn't know any), and as a result, it is easy for anyone to pick up Make and be entertained. Just like the best Troma movies.

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