The legendary filmmaker and founder of America’s first indie film studios Troma (Tromeo& Juliet, The Toxic Avenger) will be in town to conduct a two-daymasterclass. He talks to us about cult status and guilty pleasures.

How did it all begin?

In the late 1960’s, I was enrolled at Yale University diligently working on a respectable degree in Chinese Studies. I was placed in a dormitory room with two film fanatics, and from that moment everything changed. I met my partner Michael Herz in 1971 at Yale and The TromaUniverse was born in 1974. It arose from my desire to do things my way and not have to feel pressured by Hollywood studios to do things the “correct” or boring way.

What is Troma's signature?

All of the movies Michael Herz and I created concern the underdog citizen of Tromaville who is being sucked dry of economical and spiritual capital by the bureaucratic, corporate and labor elites. A signature theme in our films has always been about rooting for the underdog against all odds.

What are the necessary elements in making a good movie?

I do not know what makes a “good movie” but I do believe one very important thing is to follow the Shakespearean mantra “To thine own self be true.”

Define cult. 

Cult is when you have sold-out retrospectives of your work one day, but get kicked out of line for a screening at Cannes for not wearing a suit another day. Cult is receiving art work and fan letters requesting autographs from around the world, but having to explain your career to extended members of your family another day. Cult is taking the subway as an unrecognized ordinary person, while having legions of fans show up at conventions to show off their Troma body art.  

What's the secret to your success or longevity?

Success?Longevity? I think you have me mistaken for Andy Kaufman, who is still alive even after dying from lung cancer. Now that is longevity. No but really, Troma’s greatest success is our loyal and supportive fan base. We’ve always been very interactive with our fans and they have stuck with us over the years.

What is your own personal guilty pleasure or vice?

My own personal guilty pleasure is chewing gum and spitting it on the sidewalk (I hope this gets me frisked at the airport)!

What do you have to say to art-house film buffs?

I respect art-house film buffs for supporting independent art and not fueling the media conglomerates. They understand that art is very important to the human spirit, and is a reflection of society, which is why it is important for us to nurture new and unique voices and support independent art instead of supporting big budget remakes that offer no reflection of the human psyche. 

Lloyd Kaufman’s 2-Day Filmmaking Masterclass is on Dec 14-15, 9am-5pm. LaSalle College of the Arts, 1 McNally St., 6496-5000. $159 onwards from





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