Before reading this book, I had never heard of Lloyd Kaufman, Tromaville or the Toxic Avenger. Now I feel like he and all his crazy characters are family. And why not? You've got to love a guy who in the acknowledgments writes, "No thanks to: Viacom, New Corp, Vivendi, AOL Time Warner, Sony and other devil-worshipping international media conglomerates." He is a modern day Don Quixote. A rare bird, indeed. "Make Your Own Damn Movie," sounds like a call to action but it really isn't. For that reason, I gave this book four stars. Kaufman writes knowledgeably about how independent theaters, studios, and filmmakers are being squeezed out by consolidation - where Viacom owns Blockbuster, Paramount Pictures, Simon & Schuster Publishers, along with TV, cable and other media - basically all the channels of distribution and publicity in the marketplace. This book contains witty, subversive, smart and useful information, but to what purpose if the outlook is so bleak? Kaufman closes his book with "sometimes lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for." That's hardly the call to action I thought I'd be reading. He clearly sees himself and his work as being a dying breed. This is a horror director who has written a tragedy. Has it come down to that for this innovative, dynamic and vivacious film pioneer? If you are an aspiring filmmaker, this is an excellent autobiography about a 25-year veteran of independent films. But if you're looking for the nuts and bolts of filmmaking or a rah, rah you can do it tract, you may want to consider other material.
Winner of the lifetime achievement award for his body of work and important contribution to the filmindustry at this years's prestigious Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival, Lloyd Kaufman is a genius making masterpieces on a budget that would barely be enough to pay for one day's catering on an average Hollywood producton and he does it for thirty years now. In a world where low budget independent filmmaking means manymultimillion dollar productions by subdivisions of Warner and Disney, Lloyd Kaufman survived for three decades (and counting) with his truly independent filmcompany Troma and in doing so directed, produced and/or wrote dozens of brilliant films (plus distributed hundreds more works that would otherwise have been totally neglected) without which the world would be an even less happy place! Heck - his work provided loads of "inspiration" (i.e. rips-off-ism) for the big ones who simply aren't creative enough to come up with their own masterpieces. Want to know how he does it? Interested in learning from his expertise making true art and surviving in an industry that is almost entirely taken over by those big conglomerates? Need to know how you can make your own film you have been dreaming about for so long, but felt discouraged by the way the world has turned out to be? READ HIS BRILLIANT BOOK "MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE"! If there is one person alive (or dead, but they usually don't say too much to begin with) who can actually tell you how to overwin all possible obstacles you might -and will- encounter realising your plans, it is Lloyd Kaufman. He has lived it, he is still doing it, and every film he makes is better than the previous one, even while the problems are getting bigger. Kaufman does not only tell you HOW you can go about making your own damn movie, reading this book his enthousiasm about the art of filmmaking may even get you encouraged to do so even if you didn't have any such plans at all. Apart from that, there are loads of anecdotes from his thirty-plus years in the business and he is one of the most entertaining, witty and funny writers I have ever encountered. Footnotes, additional info and insight in how rewarding working with Lloyd can be (and how good his pay is) are provided by some of those other Troma-people he collaborated, like co-writer/assistant-director on Kaufman's latest masterpiece CITIZEN TOXIE: THE TOXIC AVENGER IV, Trent Haaga and others. For those who want to learn about the business, for those who want to know about Troma and the filmindustry from the inside, and for those who want to have a damn good time reading, this book is an absolute MUST. I found it to be unputdownable and like his previous book "ALL I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FILMMAKING I LEARNED FROM THE TOXIC AVENGER" I am sure I will read it many more times. So don't rent it, don't borrow it, but support independent cinema and buy this one. It's a damn good value for your bucks (probably as much as buying the action- and extra's packed brilliant double DVD-set of CITIZEN TOXIE)!!
Lloyd Kaufman's follow-up to the hysterical "All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger" is no less entertaining than its predecessor, but will prove far more invaluable to the aspiring director. Kaufman, whose 30+ year career has earned him a rabid cult following all over the world, is no stranger to opearting outside the Hollywood system. His fillmaking advice (not to mention the occasional anti-establishment tirade) is consistently practical, brutally candid, and frequently hilarious. There are excellent chapters on unorthodox fundraising techniques (a necessity for those filmmakers whose artistic aspirations run contrary to the mainstream), casting, keeping cast and crew morale high, the merits of shooting on film versus tape, and other vital--though frequently overlooked by other books--considerations for the would-be auteur. It should be noted that this book is probably not for everyone. As with "All I Need to Know About Filmmaking," Kaufman's language can get quite raunchy at times, and his prediliction for sharing his masturbatory fantasies will not amuse the ultra-straightlaced. However, anyone who might find himself or herself offended by such things is probably not going to be reading a filmmaking book by the founder of Troma Studios to begin with. But still, be warned: no prudes allowed. This book has made an indelible impression on me, and is a terrific addition to the library of any aspiring director. I am now ready to go MAKE MY OWN DAMN MOVIE, and you can do the same. Thanks, Lloyd! Toxie taught you well.
In terms of quality, the only book that can even come close to this one is "All I Needed To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger", by The Artist Formerly Known As Samuel Weil, Lloyd Kaufman. The two books by this film director are far different, however; "Make Your Own Damn Movie" is more along the lines of instruction and advice, with some autobiography thrown in, whereas "All I Needed To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger" is more autobiographical, with some bits of instruction and advice. This book will tell you potentially everything you need to know to make your own damn movie, and I predict that it will change and improve the motion picture industry forever. The author, Lloyd Kaufman, and the two co-authors, Trent Haaga and Adam Jahnke, know whereof they speak, all three of them having been making entertaining movies for years. In this book, Lloyd reveals how he did it, and how you can do it too. And he does so with considerable wit and humour. This much is no surprise to anyone who is a fan of his films. I can't recommend this book enough. This will tell you how to make your own damn movie step-by-step. This is a must have for anyone who is either interested in making their own (damn) movies, or is interested in learning how Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz did it themselves.
"Make Your Own Damn Movie" tells you the blood and guts and more guts (with more blood and assorted body parts) of independent movie making. While going through each process of assembling a film it doesn't candy coat the time, trouble, expense, headaches, anxiety and possible asthma attacks making one's own movie a reality WILL be. If one truly wants to make one's dream come true, without selling one's soul to the Hollywood corporate system, this is the book that tells one how to do it. Lloyd Kaufman has been a leader in independent film making for thirty years. He knows how to get it done and shares it with you along with some personal quirks you just may not want to know about Lloyd or anyone else. But I digress. You want to make your own movie under your own control? Buy and read this book. You don't want to make a movie? Buy it anyway. It's so funny you'll wet yourself.
Is this book funny? Sure, often hysterically. But it's much more -- Lloyd Kaufmann, perhaps the nastiest sweet man on the planet, reveals invaluble truths, secrets and techniques to indie filmmakers. Between the profane, self-immolating anecdotes, Kaufmann provides the skinny on surviving in the trenches of low/no budget moviemaking. Very few filmmaking books are by real filmmakers, and Kaufmann is a quirky, much underrated auteur with a style and vision that rivals John Waters (that the Troma guru's films are funny, entertaining and smart is often lost on critics and even viewers, caught up in his punk theatrics). Even if you have a real budget of several hundred thousand dollars or even a mil, Kaufmann has much to teach you, and -- between the laughs -- sobering truths to share. As an indie director myself, I wish I'd had this book to guide me on my first effort; and I still find it useful and perversely inspiring.