Quantcast ICONS Interview with Lloyd Kaufman of TROMA Entertainment, creator of THE TOXIC AVENGER

TROMA President
Lloyd Kaufman!

In mid-February of 2008, Icons Of Fright arranged for staffer John Torrani to interview TROMA president/director extraordinaire LLOYD KAUFMAN for his web series AMERICA'S BAD KIDS Episode 2. What transpired was among one of the best Icons interviews EVER. Even Kaufman called our chat one of his all-time "finest". Now, we present to you the full transcription of that interview in it's entirety! From THE TOXIC AVENGER to POULTRYGEIST, all grounds are covered in this TROMA-rific interview! Read on for the full scoop! - By John Torrani - 4/08

Oh, hi Lloyd!

Now, where were we?

First, I just want to say it’s an honor to be in the new TROMA facility. I understand I’m one of the first members of the press to visit?

Yep! The New York Times and uh… what’s the name of this? (Looks down at paper) Icons Of Fright! And America’s Bad Kids! You’re the second one after New York Times.

Why did you move from your New York City location?

Well, TROMA’s always made movies of the future. We’re always ahead of the game. Long Island City beckoned and here we are. If it was any other Beckham, we’d be a soccer star.

Right. Ok. Well, I remember in MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE, you tell a story about having to clean rat shit out of the basement of the old building. Did that play into you wanting to move? Or just Long Island City was the place you wanted to be?

The rat shit in the old building came from giant raccoon sized rats that we think came from McDonalds when they moved in next door because they seemed to be a hell of a coincidence. We hadn’t had rats for 15 or 20 years. And battling those rats and cleaning up the rat shit and the nests and the dead rats and the very bosch like environment is what led to POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD! That’s what inspired POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD. It did not inspire the move to Long Island City. The move to Long Island City is that look… it’s beautiful out here. You can see the sunlight (*editors note: it was actually raining and dark out that day), the people are lovely and it’s a new frontier. We were in Hell’s Kitchen until they changed the name to Clinton. So, it got very yuppified and now we’re going to new places. That’s what TROMA does. We’re the first ones to have combined gore and comedy and make the slap-stick gore movies according to Peter Jackson and James Gunn and some of the people that have grown up with our movies. Or worked here. Trey Parker, for example.
I must say it is a gorgeous location…

You used the word gory. Gore-geous location. In the same way that we pioneered the gore slap-stick movie, we have moved to Long Island City because we feel it’s a coming place. I don’t just mean cumming. I meant coming.

Not cumming?

Not the Ron Jeremy cumming. No.

Now, so you mentioned POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD. I’ve been hearing about the film, I’m dying to see it. Can you tell me a little bit about it? What is the plot of POULTRYGEIST?

Oh. Well, POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD, we live in an age of remakes. So, I’m sure that you know that it’s a remake…
(Pause) No I didn’t know that.

POULTRYGEIST is a shot by shot remake of another slap-stick gore movie, SCHINDLER’S LIST.


Except that instead of the Jews, we have chicken Indian zombies. And instead of the concentration camp, we have a place which is much more horrible, a fast food establishment.

Oh yeah, we substituted – instead of Liam Neeson, whoever he is, we put in a much more prominent Shakespearian actor by the name of Ron Jeremy. (Lloyd attempts to put a TROMADANCE sticker on his chest) I’m teaching you young folks how you always have got to promote! And I want to put the TROMADANCE sticker, but I have a… TROMADANCE festival sticker, which is a defective one, which might make it worth more. But… there we go. Putting it right here. (Puts it on chest) That’s the way to promote your own damn movies. Do your own guerrilla marketing. Sorry, where were we?

You were telling me how POULTRYGEIST is a remake of SCHINDLER’S LIST.

Yes! Did you read about that?

Actually, I thought it was a remake of AMISTAD.

POULTRYGEIST may actually have been a remake of AMISTAD. I may have goofed. At any rate I forget… A lot of people think it’s a remake of VIRGIN SPRING. That POULTRYGEIST is mimicking the Ingmar Bergman classic, but that is not true. Nothing to do with VIRGIN SPRING.

Everyone that knows me, knows that SCHINDLER’S LIST is one of my favorite films.

With good reason. It’s the funniest film about concentration camps.


Anyways, next question. What was the point of…?


What else have you packed into POULTRYGEIST that you’re about to unleash this coming May in New York City.

Well, POULTRYGEIST features the biting political satire that TROMA has been bringing you for 35 years. In this case, it’s an anti-fast food statement mixed in with an anti-limousine liberal statement. In a nutshell, a fast food chicken establishment, the American Chicken Bunker is constructed on the site of an ancient sacred Indian burial ground, the Tromahawk Indians. And the exterminated chickens – billions of chickens are tortured and exterminated each year by the fast food industry, those spirits mix with the spirits of the exterminated Indians. Um, I guess Indians is politically incorrect. Right? You have to say… Casino Owners, I believe. That’s the politically correct word.

Yes, we’re PC on BAD KIDS.
Well, I am, I don’t know about your website. At TROMA we are very politically correct. So, those two exterminated spirits merge and come into the fast food establishment and they commit POULTRYGEIST, and the customers and the workers at the fast food place are sort of treated the way the chickens and Indians were treated.

Casino Owners.

Oh sorry. Casino owners. Forgive me.
So, Lloyd, you’ve been shooting this movie up until recently. Can you tell me about the new material that you’ve shot for POULTRYGEIST?

Yes, well POULTRYGEIST is starting to play in movie theaters. It’s been to about 20 cities so far. It will open in New York City at the Village East on May 9th. Then at Laemmle Cinema’s in June in Los Angeles. But yes, we’re constantly filming. We’re still filming material for POULTRYGEIST in 35 mm and we will probably film for the rest of my life. POULTRYGEIST is a chicken movie that will be my swan song. And after we finished editing the movie, we realized that Debbie Rochon who’s been in so many of our movies and who’s an excellent actress, that she’s not in the movie! I don’t know how we managed to do that.
So, we felt we should make an opportunity for her to be in the film. And luckily, I screwed up directing the movie so there was a nice big plot hole. So, Debbie was kind enough to give us a day in December. And Elske McCain came in from Tucson, Arizona and we filmed this very special scene on the roof of the old TROMA building in December! We had to match August, so everybody had to wear bikinis and all that kind of stuff. But it was a very beautiful scene, and it’s nice that Debbie Rochon is now in POULTRYGEIST, among other great TROMA stuff.

Absolutely. Debbie Rochon is a friend of our site and we’re really happy you were able to include her in the movie. Now, Debbie’s actually in my favorite TROMA movie of all time… which is James Gunn’s TROMEO & JULIET.
Now, why do you say it’s James Gunn’s? Why is it James Gunn’s TROMEO & JULIET?

I’m, I’m sorry!

I say you’re a fucking ass-licker! That’s what I say! And I will go on record to say… (looks down at paper) Icons Of Fright.com and America’s Bad Kids have their tongues up James Gunn’s ass! Why don’t you say something about Eli Roth’s TALES FROM THE CRAPPER?

We’re going to! OK!
James Gunn’s TROMEO & JULIET. It’s TROMA’s TROMEO & JULIET! James Gunn may have written the script for it, some of the script and most of the best parts of the script for sure. But it ain’t James Gunn’s TROMEO & JULIET. It’s James Gunn’s SLITHER. James Gunn’s DAWN OF THE DEAD. Whatever. But it’s TROMA’s TROMEO & JULIET. It took us 5 fucking years to get that script!

I did say it was my favorite!
James Gunn’s is a wonderful writer and thanks to him, we did have a good screenplay.

Yes, it’s a great film. Just to regress. Admittedly, I can only speak for myself, I am a giant asshole.

You guys are all sell outs, it’s terrible.

I am a giant ass licker. I have been known from time to time to lick James Gunn’s ass. The other two gentleman you mentioned, there will be no ass-licking for them.

Well, they’re next on your list.
Well, we’ll get to them later. So, anyway… James Gunn did an excellent job writing for TROMA for that film…

He sure did. No question about it.

It’s been about 12 or so years since that film? Looking back on that film, what do you think about it? Do you consider it to be one of your more enjoyable experiences?
TROMEO & JULIET was a very enjoyable experience. In large part because of James Gunn. But also, we had very good acting in it. Will Keenan and whatever her name is… Jane Jensen, who both somehow managed not to be in the 10th Anniversary DVD, but those things happen. James and I did pretty good commentary tracks for it. And it’s a great, great Anniversary Edition. TROMEO & JULIET is a very, very good “chick” flick as opposed to POULTRYGEIST which is also a “chick” flick but a different type of chick. POULTRYGEIST is sort of a foul “chick” flick with chickens where TROMEO & JULIET is rather romantic and promotes incest.
I agree. Which females do enjoy. That’s what draws me to the film. And Lemmy Kilmeister (MOTORHEAD), who’s a great narrator in your film.

Yeah, Lemmy’s been great to us, he’s terrific. He’s always been very supportive of TROMA. He gave us music for TROMEO & JULIET, a song called SACRIFICE.
I own the soundtrack!

Oh nice!

I’m telling you, it’s my favorite TROMA film. I would love to see a TROMEO & JULIET action figure, but…
That’s going to be a little tough.

The film that came out after that TERROR FIRMER, I understand was written by a gentleman named Douglas Buck?

No, it was not written by Douglas Buck. Virtually 99 percent of the finished version was a product of Gabe Friedman, Patrick Cassidy and me.

I was going to ask if you still spoke to Doug Buck or were in contact with him.

Mmm… A little bit. Yes.

Oh, ok! He recently completed a remake of Brian DePalma’s SISTERS…

Yes. I saw that.

Oh you saw that! I still haven’t seen it, but I’m looking forward to seeing it.

Mmm… (Pause) Wonderful. Keep looking forward.

Then after that, we have TALES FROM THE CRAPPER.

Yes! Very bad film.
Very bad film, ok. I understand…

TALES FROM THE CRAPPER is fun, it’s a lot of fun, but… I’ll tell you something, it’s better then most of your mainstream movies, but from the point of view of a TROMA release it’s very disappointing. We hired the wrong directors, twice. And there’s a very, very good documentary on TALES FROM THE CRAPPER. If any of you are filmmakers, and want to see what not to do and see mistakes that I, Lloyd Kaufman president of Troma Entertainment, creator of the Toxic Avenger, after 30 years can still screw up incredibly by not having the guts to fire people. Uh, check out THE THICK BROWN LINE, which is the documentary. It’s about an hour long on the TALES FROM THE CRAPPER DVD.

And also TALES FROM THE CRAPPER is note-worthy because all of these people came to our aid because the film was in trouble, so you’ve got Trey Parker, James Gunn, Eli Roth is in it, NEW FOUND GLORY, Ron Jeremy, Sam Raimi. All these people are in that movie because we were in hot water with it because the directors were so irresponsible. So, we tried to make something out of it. Oh, and the fat kid from LOST! That was his first movie. He’s one of the stars of TALES FROM THE CRAPPER, Jorge Garcia. He’s very good in that. And of course LOST is a beautiful, beautiful TV show. So, TALES FROM THE CRAPPER is significant, it’s just not… I should’ve taken it over immediately and directed it, but I didn’t and that was a mistake. It’s not a great movie.

But it was a great learning experience for you you’re saying?

No! I didn’t learn anything other then I’m an idiot and I should’ve fired these people. But I think the documentary that’s on there, THE THICK BROWN LINE will be a very good cautionary tale for anybody watching who wants to make his or her’s own damn movie.

I’ve heard you talk before in the past about not wanting to associate with the mainstream Hollywood. I believe there’s that deleted scene in TERROR FIRMER where you shove the Oscar up your ass…

Well, that’s in the interactive tour of TROMA studios. And there’s a little Easter Egg about the Hollywood experience, yes.

Now, but you are saying that a lot of these big names did come to your aid on TALES FROM THE CRAPPER. Eli Roth and Sam Raimi and James Gunn, all these guys are out working in that system. But they’re also happy to come back and help you out. Does that change your perception? I mean, you helped bring these people into the business and now they’re returning and helping you, so in effect you are changing the business then.

Well, I think TROMA has been an influence on a lot of today’s mainstream. The younger generation. (Quentin) Tarantino talked about us at the Cannes Films Festival. He was talking about POULTRYGEIST at his press conference if I heard correctly. And um, so I think those guys like TROMA (movies). And I do believe we’ve opened some of the doors that they’ve gone through. And done it properly. SOUTH PARK has got a lot of Troma-esque stuff in it, but it’s brilliant. I mean, it’s better than TROMA. It’s better satire and more mainstream for sure. And those guys are great! James Gunn, Trey Parker, Eli – these are great people. The mainstream is not all full of bad people. It’s just that I haven’t been able to master – the one of two times that I’ve been able to penetrate the hymen of the mainstream, I’m the one who got fucked. So, we’re not big fans of the mainstream. Right now, we’re getting a lot of calls from people like Brett Ratner and others who want to remake TROMA movies!

Brett Ratner wants to remake a TROMA movie?!

Yeah. Yes. The problem is, for us to give over one of our characters or projects, we’d at least want to get some decent money for it. And the thing about the mainstream is they sort of mark their territory. The idea that they can really beat you up, and take away what little you have for nothing. It makes them feel good. If they can have an appointment with you and tell you to meet them in the restaurant of their choice, and then don’t show up, and you’re sitting there (alone) in the fancy restaurant, that’s like lifting their leg and marking their territory. But hey, we need money. It’s something we need.
So, if somebody wants to pay us a big wad of money for the remake rights of TOXIC AVENGER? No problem. Noooo problem. We do get calls from these agents constantly about it, but so far, nobody’s forked over any real money. And if we did give TOXIC AVENGER to somebody, our fans would probably be pretty pissed off, so it would have to be a trade off. We’d have to get enough money so we could make a movie for our fans if we gave TOXIC AVENGER (away). On the other hand, I’d give it to James Gunn for nothing. I’d give it to Eli Roth for nothing, probably.
There’s certain people we would probably give it to for nothing, but not to… Mister William Morris.

Or Brett Ratner.

Well, he gets $12 million dollars a movie, there’s no reason why he can’t give us a few bucks.
You just answered one of the questions I was going to ask you, in the age of remakes, would there be a remake of a classic TROMA character? You’re saying yes only under the right circumstances?

I would bet against it. I would bet against any remakes of any TROMA classics. Yes.

If you could remake something, if people were giving you money to remake it (TOXIE), what would you do? How would you update your baby, THE TOXIC AVENGER?

Nobody would give me money to remake anything. The people want to get rid of me. That’s what they would like (is) to get rid of me. Nobody is going to let me direct anything. (Pause) Other than Mister Michael Herz, my partner and even he is having second thoughts after 35 years. I’m basically blacklisted. As is TROMA, we’re economically blacklisted. You haven’t seen any movies on HBO from TROMA. You haven’t seen any movies on the “Independent Film Channel” from TROMA, not even Trey Parker’s CANNIBAL THE MUSICAL. Not even THE TOXIC AVENGER has been on IFC. Nothing from TROMA for 35 years including Samuel Jackson’s first movie, DEATH BY TEMPTATION. Nothing has ever been on the Independent Film Channel, or on the Sundance Channel or for the past 15 years, nothing on HBO or Showtime. In fact, HBO let us know that POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD didn’t have enough sex and violence to satisfy whoever is making the decisions over there. In other words, we should make porno films, then they might buy them from us. We should make crappy softcore porno for HBO. Then we can really be sleazy. Then their dream would come true, that TROMA would be “sleaze”. That’s what they want. They want to put the independents out of business and put them in the ghetto of softcore boring porno. Right?


Meanwhile, Time Warner’s stock is in the toilet. They can’t even make a profit. They’ve got a cartel, they’ve got a monopoly. They still can’t turn a profit. They don’t even care about their shareholders. Good thing TROMA’s around to bring the true independent art to the people. But you’ll have to go fast to the Village East on May 9th, because I don’t know how long we’ll be able to play there. We don’t have any money to advertise, so… We’re going to depend on America’s Bad Kids.com and Icons Of Fright.com to spread the bird about POULTRYGEIST.

May 9th, Village East. POULTRYGEIST.


I’m dying to see it. I’ve seen the last 4 TROMA films on the big screen, and I will not miss this one.

Oh thank you. It looks beautiful. POULTRYGEIST is in beautiful 35 mm for our fans because they want it that way, and it looks really beautiful on the big screen. And it’s a lot of fun to see it with an audience. I was just in Minneapolis this weekend and it was the number 1 film out of the 6 screens. It doubled JUMPER at the theater it was in. And it did 10 times more then FOOLS GOLD and multiples of SPIDER-PRICK did.

It seems you’ve very proud and enthusiastic of POULTRYGEIST. What about it makes it so special for you personally?

Well, POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD is a development… (Loud intercom beep) umph. Let me… (picks up phone, hangs it up) Let me unplug this. POULTRYGEIST is an advancement of the TROMA umph so to speak. As you know, we created the gore slap-stick movie, and we’re famous for mixing the genres. In the case of POULTRYGEIST among other things, we have added in the musical comedy element. We have some singing and dancing in the movie and some lovely songs. It’s not a musical! But POULTRYGEIST does have some random songs, and that’s pretty interesting.
Just having to write the songs and have the actors perform them ahead of time added a whole new level of sophistication to POULTRYGEIST. Also, it’s the best acting we’ve had in a TROMA movie. The character development is quite interesting, and also the content. The levels of political and social satire are definitely the most amusing and the most entertaining that we have had in a TROMA movie in 35 years. I’ve seen the audience reactions, the movie gets held over with no advertising in every theater it’s played in, so that’s pretty cool. (Cell phone goes off) People are very impatient. They can’t wait two minutes. Sorry. So, I think that POULTRYGEIST is probably our most entertaining movie. It’s the funniest film we’ve ever made and the singing and dancing are not to be missed.

I’ve heard the POULTRYGEIST theme song and I think it’s great and I can’t wait to see it play on the big screen.

Well, I’m letting you know that it’s an EGG-cellent movie.

Speaking of musicals, I couldn’t help but notice that there might be some other TROMA musicals down the pike.

As a gay married man, I’ve always loved Broadway, the roar of the grease paint, the smell of the crowd. The Broadway musicals, I’ve always loved that stuff. I’ve always wanted to redo PAL JOEY, which was a crappy movie, but a wonderful dark musical. But since I can’t do that, some excellent theatrical producers, the folks that brought you DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS and I believe the Harriet Tubman story, (the musical, of course) they are going to be producing TOXIC (cell phone beeps)… whoops, sorry I had Mexican for lunch. (Laughs) They’re going to be producing TOXIC AVENGER: THE MUSICAL!

And if that wasn’t enough, they have engaged Mister David Bryan who is a member of BON JOVI. David Bryan, a member of BON JOVI has written the music and it’s great, it’s terrific. They’ve got a big time director, and apparently they’re going to start trying it out of town in Newark, New Jersey, which is one of the original Tromavilles. We filmed there back in the good old days. The original TOXIC AVENGER was filmed in and around Newark, New Jersey. So, it’s all coming around in a big, big beautiful triangle.

And of course, the Toxic Avenger is the first superhero from New Jersey. I’m glad to see that he’s going home. Is that a scoop? Are we the first ones to hear about a TOXIC AVENGER MUSICAL?!

It’s very possible. We have not really talked about TOXIC AVENGER: THE MUSICAL to anyone yet. There have been TOXIC AVENGER: THE MUSICAL’s in Omaha and in Portland but by fans. They wrote their own – 2 different versions of TOXIC AVENGER: THE MUSICAL’s and we let them have the rights for free because they were just doing it on their own. But now, this is a real TOXIC AVENGER: THE MUSICAL with a real professional producing team and hopefully something will happen (with it). I’ve been to a table reading of it and David Bryan’s music is terrific. It’s great. The songs are witty and the libretto, whatever you call it, the script is very faithful to TOXIE but yet allows for the singing and dancing.

That’s great, I can’t wait to see that, Lloyd.

Well, I think people who like SPAMALOT will very much enjoy TOXIC AVENGER: THE MUSICAL, as it’s being produced at the moment. I think it will appeal to the SPAMALOT and the TROMA fans together.

Someone else that you’ve worked with in the past and I’m curious if you keep in touch with… John Avildsen. Have you been in touch with him recently?

Yeah. John Avildsen and I are in touch all the time. No question about it. And he’s a major influence on my humble umph. Yeah, we’re in very close contact. In fact, you can see him in a hard hitting interview on the MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE DVD boxed set. And he’s also referred to in my books quite a bit. I learned a lot from him on CRY UNCLE and on JOE and on ROCKY. Especially about the location filming. The fact that the location can become a character and how important real locations are to advancing the plot and getting audiences to suspend their belief a bit, if you use real locations. POULTRYGEIST is a very good example. Rather than build a set, we filmed in a real fast food establishment. What used to be a McDonalds, we made it into American Chicken Bunker, but everything is real as it would be in a real fast food place. It has one foot in reality so that the audience will accept the possible… chicken/Indian zombie fantasy, that it’s real. Well, people will think it’s fantasy.

So, there’s no green screen work?

No, I’m not a fan of CGI or any of that stuff. Everything in POULTRYGEIST… Well, there is a little tiny bit of CGI – very, very little and you won’t even know where it is. But everything in POULTRYGEIST are actual tangible special effects. But, I think from Avildsen I got among other things the notion of shooting on a real location being so important. Also, we shoot in sequence! You may be interested to know that.

I did not know that!

He tries to do that, I learned that from him. If you shoot in sequence, you can keep changing the script, and the nice thing about being blacklisted and not having any kind union rules to follow, you can shoot in sequence. You can keep your actors there, because they are there to make a good movie. They’re not there for the lunches or for how much money they can make, they’re there to make a good movie. So, you can literally shoot in sequence and you don’t have to conform the shooting schedule around… Ashton Kutcher’s schedule. You can shoot the way the film should be shot.

Was ROCKY shot that way? In sequence?

Um, yeah. I think so. It couldn’t possibly totally be shot in sequence, but as close as possible, I think. Avildsen tries to shoot in sequence. POULTRYGEIST was totally shot in sequence. The beginning of the movie was the first day and the end of the movie was the last day. And the only variances were that we did some post-production. We blew up the fast food establishment afterwards because we didn’t need a full crew to stand around while the people do whatever they have to do to make an explosion. And then the Debbie Rochon scene. And when we saw the movie put together, we always save a little bit of money so that when the film is edited, we can see where we’ve made mistakes. And then film, or do whatever has to be done.

Are you still friends with Kirk Douglas? I know you guys worked together on THE FINAL COUNTDOWN.

Yeah, I learned a lot from Kirk Douglas too. Actually, I have not spoken to him for a couple of years. I still keep in touch every once in a while with Peter Douglas, his son calls me. And we were friends with Eric Douglas who just died a year or two ago. We saw him all the time. But I have not seen or heard from Kirk in a while. I mean, every so often I’ll write him a note, but I don’t get anything back. He loves TROMA. Last time I did see him was at an evening that was in his honor. I can’t remember which one, it was in New York. I was at a table with the late Norman Mailer. Yep, I made sure I didn’t get punched out. But Kirk was always saying how proud he was of TROMA and the fact that we’re still around after all these years and that we’ve done what we believed in. He was a big hero, he broke the blacklist among other things. Great man, no question about it.

Lloyd, I understand you were recently elected the chairman of the Independent Film & Television Alliance?

Yes, the Independent Film & Television Alliance, IFTA is a trade association of approximately 200 independent movie studios. Everyone from Roger Corman’s company to the guys who made CRASH to Mark Damon who produced MONSTER. And in fact, New Line and Miramax are independent because they finance independently so they are also members. My platform to get elected was basically to try to fight industry consolidation, so I’ve been working with the IFTA lobbyists in Washington to try to educate our lawmakers and opinion makers there that independent art and commerce is under assault.

That the major media conglomerates have been able to get rid of all of the protection against monopolies through their lobbying and the MPAA, Sony and Viacom and Rupert Murdock’s news corporation and Disney have got their ass in their tub of butter and they’ve been able to control the distribution, so that it’s impossible for any of us to get our movies on television. So, we’re trying to suggest to the congress and the FCC in meetings that the thin sin law should be re-established. There used to be a rule that prevented the networks from owning and showing their own content as they call it. It used to be that the networks were required to (or program) 35 percent of independent work, independent TV shows. But that was done away with during Clinton’s watch. So as a result, NBC now can own its content and doesn’t have to take any outside content. So, whereas in the 80’s, there where maybe 30-40 percent of television was independent, now you’ve got about 4 percent. And a lot of that is reality crap. So, the public is not being serviced.

We’re trying to work on fighting against industry consolidation, as well as protecting the internet and trying to preserve net neutrality. Because big internet is lurking in the shadows and the telephone companies and the major media conglomerates are trying to screw up the net neutrality. The perfectly democratic system that the internet does have where if you have something good, you can easily get it up there just as easily as Time Warner can. But slowly but surely, the giant television conglomerates and television conglomerates are colonizing the internet. As you’ve noticed, they’ve bought My Space and You Tube and everything.

The worst of it is they’re getting together with the phone companies to try to have special types of media that they control going into your house, so when they want to find America’s Bad Kids.com, you’ll have to go through 35 screens to locate it, whereas 27 DRESSES and JUMPER will be all over the place. You won’t be able to get away from it on the net. So, we have to fight against it now. We have to pre-empt big internet and maintain net neutrality. And it’s a disgrace that our Presidential contenders, other then McCain have not talked about net neutrality. They may have it on their websites, but they’re getting lots of money from the big media conglomerates and the phone companies. McCain’s the only one that’s really been speaking out again industry consolidation and in favor of net neutrality. I can’t imagine that the others are not, but so far they’ve been afraid to talk about it and the pundits who are questioning the so-called candidates at debates have not ever mentioned these issues. Either industry consolidation or net neutrality. And getting our information, we as a public – getting proper information and a variety of entertainment is crucial otherwise we’ll end up with obese children drinking the Kool Aid and running to the fast food place and slopping down more of that crap, and watching THE TODAY SHOW, vertically integrated television and movies and magazine.

Are you supporting any particular political candidate because of these issues yet?

No, I don’t know yet. I’m not sure. Certainly it ain’t Hillary. That’s one person it ain’t. And anyone in this company talks about Hillary, we’ll kill them and eat their flesh.

Ok. Well as a native New Yorker and the host of America’s Bad Kids, I can say that America’s Bad Kids is an anti-Hillary webseries.

You don’t like Hillary.

No, especially as a native New Yorker.

It would be arrogant of me to suggest who to vote for. I’ll put something up eventually on my My Space.

There’s a beautiful photograph in the beginning of ALL I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FILMMAKING I LEARNED FROM THE TOXIC AVENGER. It’s of you and Roger Corman. Do you still talk to Roger?

Yes. Roger Corman and I are on the board of the IFTA together and we’re both very concerned about the industry consolidation issues, and needless to say, he’s a big influence. I’ve never worked with him, but we’re good buddies and certainly his example was a very important influence on me when I was at Yale University deciding weather or not to go the independent route. The fact that he was making and directing well written, well acted and rather profound scripts certainly proved that one could do it for a low budget. Certainly that was proof positive that we could in fact compete in those days in the 70’s. And one could compete in the 70’s. But, all of the regulations that used to protect the public from the monopolies have been done away with through the Reagan & Clinton era. And all of the incentives that encourage independent art, such as the tax shelters and the investment tax credit have also been done away with, so that the playing field which used to be slightly disadvantageous to independents is like a greased stripper pole. We’re the last ones, we’re the only ones that – there’s no other movie studio that is 35 years old. They don’t even come close.

Corman is still around, but there’s no other company that can last very long that’s actually producing and distributing and functioning like a studio and that’s a pity. TROMA has fans and that’s the only reason we’re around. The fans take care of us. They’ve been booking POULTRYGEIST into their local theaters. They go to the theater in Houston and they told the theater to play POULTRYGEIST and eventually the theater called us. And out of 15 screens, POULTRYGEIST was number one at that theater beating THE GOLDEN COMPASS and THE MIST and whatever else was in the 15 screens. Our movies, people like them if they can get to them. But if the public doesn’t know about it, how are they going to see it? And if all the magazines, newspapers, TV stations, movie theaters and cable television are all owned by 5 companies, there’s no way the public can find out that independent art exists, much less TROMA. And that’s one of the reasons we started the TROMADANCE FILM FESTIVAL.

How did the TROMADANCE Film Festival start?

This was about 12 years ago. Trey Parker who did CANNIBAL THE MUSICAL, him and Matt Stone were obsessed with going to Sundance and we all went. And we were horrified at how unpleasant Sundance was from the point of view of being an independent filmmaker. So, eventually we evolved the idea that we should have a festival where you don’t have to pay to submit your movies. It’s expensive, that these young people that make movies, why should they be spending money to submit their films when so many of these big time festivals are fixed, in my opinion? They already know what they’re going to play, they’ve gotten together with the producers reps and the agents and the Miramax’s and the New Lines and the HBO Films. The poor bastard who spends whatever money it is to submit his brilliant movie is probably never going to have it play in one of these festivals. Yet, the bureaucrats in the festivals will be flying in First Class and eating at Paul Newman’s restaurant and having the time of their life on the backs of people who’ve mortgaged their houses.
So, TROMADANCE, there’s no entry fee. Films can be seen for nothing, you don’t have to pay to see the movies. And there’s no VIP policy and coming up in 2009, it will be the 10th year of TROMADANCE and it takes place in Park City, Utah during the Sundance Festival. I think Sundance has actually improved its act. They seem to be a little more generous to the real independents and they seem to be treating the young independent filmmakers who come to Park City, Utah a little nicer. I think their staff has had some sensitivity. 8 or 9 years ago, 2 of the TROMADANCE employees were jailed for handing out leaflet’s and for being slightly festive at that festival. So, I think we’ve had a good influence on them. I don’t presume too much, but I think Sundance is now more open to genuinely independent movies today compared to 10 years ago.

And are you accepting entries for TROMADANCE 2009 now?

If you go to TROMADANCE.com, you can download the form. It just happened, so I don’t know if the site has been updated for TROMADANCE 2009, but probably. I don’t select the movies for TROMADANCE, I have nothing to do with it, other than TROMA is one of the sponsors. We support it. G4 helped us out, Kodak, there are 4 or 5 sponsors that help put it together. And the fans! The fans have contributed about a third of the budget for TROMADANCE by small contributions on the web. So, when you go to TROMADANCE.com, there’s a way to submit through Paypal. Through 5 and 20 dollar contributions, we got a third of TROMADANCE’s budget, from fans of TROMA and independent art.

That’s great and I think it’s great you’re doing that, it’s really important.

I’m glad you asked me about that.

What’s your next project, Lloyd?

Oh, the next project! We’re going to be doing another remake. We’re going to be doing a remake of BROKE BACK SIDE MOUNTAIN. It’ll be a zombie movie. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN zombie style. Starring Heath Ledger.

Well, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is one of my favorite films, so I’m excited to see your remake of it, and I’m glad you got Heath Ledger back.

Yeah, should be very productive and America’s Bad Kids.com will be consulted when the time comes. This has been one of the finest interviews I’ve ever had.

Thank you, Lloyd! This has been a great time for me and I really enjoyed what you had to say about the state of the industry and the importance of independence. We’re very proud of this interview.

TROMA will persevere. And when the TROMA team is not making those great movies like SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. or POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD, we like to kick back and tune into American’s Bad Kid’s.com (and read Icons Of Fright.com) because that’s really the best entertainment there is.

Thank you, Lloyd.

AMERICA'S BAD KIDS: EPISODE 2 (Tour of Troma's offices!)

Visit: http://www.troma.com
Lloyd Kaufman's My Space:

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