An Interview with Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma Entertainment (part 2 of 2)
Also, how is morale in the B-movie scene in this era of corporately-owned studios where everything has to be big?
I’m not in it, I’m in the underground. As you can tell by my tone, I’m not in the best state of mind, but it’s very tough on these young people today; on the one hand, anyone can make a movie. In my two most recent books, Direct Your Own Damn Movie, and Produce Your Own Damn Movie, they talk about the good news, because of the digital technology, everyone can indeed make their own movie, so that’s rather joyful, that’s great, there’s thousands of independent movies being made, out of which there are some really great films. The problem is: how do you get them to the public? How do you make a living? And as long as the major gatekeepers are keeping us from getting the movies like Poultrygeist, as long as Poultrygeist is blacklisted and can’t get shown on TV, as long as Cannibal: The Musical by Trey Parker and Matt Stone is economically blacklisted and is never going to get on TV because Troma’s the distributor, as long as the public is denied seeing these independent movies, as long as we who go out and finance these movies can’t go out and make a living, how are you young whippersnappers of tomorrow gonna do it? How are you gonna make a living?
It’d be great if you could have another job that has nothing to do with movies and make your own damn movie, and make a pretty good movie. You don’t need money anymore. It’s pretty discouraging when you spend three years making Poultrygeist and can’t get it shown on TV, even though we sold a shitload of DVDs. And it’s even more disturbing that Blockbuster has never carried a Troma movie in our entire history, and the so-called Independent Film Channel has never played a Troma movie, and HBO and Showtime don’t buy independent films, period, unless they come from Sony Classics or something.
That is why I am the elected chairman of the Independent Film and Television Alliance. We are also lobbying in Washington to try to fight the consolidation in the media industry, to make sure that we don’t lose Net Neutrality. I recently met with the chairman of the FCC and tried to explain to them that they were losing a lot of good revenue and jobs by allowing the major media to strangle the independent arts and commerce. They don’t get it. They think Sundance is an independent film festival, they think that Miramax is an independent company. Congress and the FCC don’t know that Miramax is part of Disney. They don’t understand that the independent film industry is responsible for most of the Oscars in the last ten years, they don’t understand that it’s responsible for billions of dollars in revenue and jobs, and discovering new talent. If the independent movie companies can’t make it, the American economy loses a shitload of jobs. If Congress and the FCC don’t get it, they’re gonna wake up one morning and we’re all gonna be gone.
We do make money, we are economically viable if a level playing field exists, but the playing field is totally benefiting the giant, devil-worshipping conglomerates. And the proof of the pudding is that Troma is 35 years old, we’re the only independent movie studio a) that’s been around that long, and b) if you go and check out other independent companies, there are very few that have lasted more than five years. And it’s not that they’re making bad movies, it’s that they cannot make a living.