Book Review: Make Your Own Damn Movie!: Secrets of a Renegade Director by Lloyd Kaufman

I am not the most well versed in the world of Troma Entertainment-a movie studio that makes low budget horror comedy flicks…okay, that is seriously underselling what Troma does. Troma gives no fucks and it’s incredibly admirable. They have intense amount of gore, violence, nudity, self-awareness, and metaness. Do I think the movies are masterpieces or anything? No, not really despite only seeing a few but that isn’t the point. Troma is the punkest of punk rock in the movie business, they didn’t sell out, they do whatever they want and have continued to do so for nearly forty years and have built up an insane cult audience who appreciate that sense of sticking it to Hollywood and their bullshit over there. Because Hollywood is…kinda bullshit. I appreciate something like Troma and what Lloyd Kaufman (the founder of Troma Entertainment and the director/producer of many Troma films) does much more than whatever Transformers 7 movie is coming out or whatever because true independence is what should exist in the arts. But anyhow, Lloyd Kaufman decided to write a book about how to Make Your Own Damn Movie! (Back in 2003 anyhow when this book was published…some of the technical information is certainly outdated in the book).And will it help you make your own movie? Kind of. Is it absolutely entertaining to read with Lloyd’s sense of humor and self-awareness and constant criticism of Hollywood and the lack of support for artists in Hollywood? Oh fuck yes.

The book doesn’t try to lay out every technical detail of filmmaking and you’ll certainly have to read up on that more on your own or…well, actually go experience it which is probably the most important part of actually making a film. Instead, the book entertains while teaching a few things here and there and it’s pretty damn effective. It is layered in references to Lloyd’s career of course and constant poking fun of Troma itself but at the same time…it oddly has plenty of heart. And what I mean by heart is it really shows that Lloyd and the people of Troma love cinema. They passionately love it. And what they truly love is independent cinema, pure independent cinema, not Miramax or some other giant media conglomerate, complete independence. The book is brutally honest about the industry on many occasions, how a lot of Hollywood is bullshit, it’s the elite being elitist, the giant media companies giving zero chances to real, independent artists, and frankly, how we live in a society that doesn’t really support artists. It may seem that plenty of artists are supported but they are not. They are forced to change their vision by the industry. And the sad thing about it is there is a market for everything but Hollywood will continue to block out things like Troma because it isn’t “up to their standards.” Honestly, the book is more of a large criticism of Hollywood and the industry than anything.

But, the book does still manage to teach about actually making films whether it be through the absolutely insane stories and struggles Lloyd and company have gone through to make these films or actually telling the real, hard truths and realities of making a movie. Making movies is hard. Like really fucking hard and Lloyd knows it. Lloyd goes through the filmmaking process from start to finish, starting with actually writing a script or casting actors and finishing with the sad reality of marketing as well as film festivals. (And with an incredible epilogue that is actually one of my favorite parts of the entire book). Will you become a filmmaker by reading the book? Fuck no. Will you be inspired to give it a shot? Probably, even with the cold, hard realities Lloyd gives throughout the book about how awful Hollywood and the major studios really are, his passion for independence will soar through and make you want to grab a camera and Make Your Own Damn Movie!

4.5/5 Stars

Author of this post (and every post thus far and maybe forever more):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring comedic writer/filmmaker/performer/pieceofshit who writes this garbage on these blogs to (hopefully) make you laugh or learn something he guesses. Follow him on Twitter @WhyShitSoCrazy for bad, witty tweets.

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