Lloyd Kaufman, Indie Film Legend of Toxic Avenger Fame, Wants You to Watch His Troma Movies for Free
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Courtesy of Troma Entertainment Lloyd Kaufman and Toxie
Lloyd Kaufman wants you to watch Troma Entertainment's extensive film catalog for free. Yes, really. The independent film company he co-founded almost 40 years ago with Michael Herz has uploaded a number of its cult favorites, including all four Toxic Avenger movies and Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, to YouTube. Troma movies also are available on-demand for free to Comcast subscribers.
Troma's decision to make its movies available without charge, even when some of them can be purchased, is in line with Kaufman's beliefs about piracy and "sharing art." He has voiced those opinions in his sixth book, Sell Your Own Damn Movie. He also took the time to chat by phone about those views for this L.A. Weekly column.
"So many people are worried about piracy," says Troma's president. While that may hurt sales for Hollywood blockbusters, he believes that file-sharing isn't the biggest issue for independent filmmakers. The problem in the underground, he says, is getting people to watch your movie.
Courtesy of Troma Entertainment
"Money is not the most valuable thing a fan can give you," Kaufman proclaims. "The most valuable thing that a fan can give you is time. If someone wants to spend an hour and a half watching Sgt. Kabukiman ... I'm grateful for that. I'm happy because I know he'll like it and he'll tell his friends and someone will buy it."
Troma has been kicking around the independent film world since 1974 and Kaufman calls it a "miracle" that the company exists at all. "We make movies about hideously deformed creatures of superhuman size and strength who run around with only a mop as a weapon," he explains. Of course, he's speaking of Toxie, aka the Toxic Avenger, Troma's best known character.
Troma hasn't just survived, it has thrived in an environment that's increasingly hostile to independent films. Undoubtedly, the company's winning combination of comedy, gore and sex ensures that there will always be young people game to watch its films in the middle of the night.
Moreover, Kaufman and Herz have found a way around every hurdle thrown at them. Not only have they built an audience for their own work, Troma has brought the work of young filmmakers to their crowd as well.
Back in 1996, Troma released a film about the strange tale of Alfred Packer called Cannibal! The Musical, directed by an unknown named Trey Parker. During the course of promoting the film, Kaufman went to Sundance with Parker and Matt Stone, the duo that later became famous for South Park. "We were appalled by how unpleasant Sundance was to independent filmmakers," Kaufman recalls.