I know it’s been a while since I’ve put out a new entry, but I have a valid excuse; college is hard. Still, this reminds me of the best homework I’ve ever had. Story time kids…but first, Katherine Heigl in a bra…
Now that I’ve secured a few more hits, it’s on to the topic at hand. So in my first semester of film school, I was given the assignment of choosing someone in the film industry and writing (but not necessarily sending) what they called a “mentor letter”. Basically a letter asking for guidance and bladdy blah, whatever. I chose the lovely and talented Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma Entertainment, and creator of the Toxic Avenger.
Why him? Mostly because I had always been a fan of his movies back when I was way too young to be watching them, and he always seemed to come across as a down-to-earth kind of guy, plus I respected his ability to make such classics in a truly independent way. Fast forward a couple of years, and Lloyd is a guest at Gencon. After taking his “Make your own damn movie” seminar, I go back to the Troma booth in the exhibit hall, and there he is, jawing away with fans, posing for pictures, and confirming my suspicions of down-to-earthitude. I mentioned to him my assignment, and he said that I should have sent the letter, as he would like to read it. He handed me his business card, and I walked away starstruck.
Fast forward to next semester, and I am assigned to find someone in my chosen field and interview them. Great, I thought, this assignment obviously wasn’t made with the film majors in mind, then it hit me. I pulled out Lloyd’s business card and hoped for the best. Graciously, he agreed to be interviewed, and we set up a time for me to call him. With my pre-assigned questions in hand, and butterflies in my stomach, I called. The following is a transcript of the interview…
1. What products and/or services do you provide?
“I make movies, and write books.”
2. How long have you been in business?
“Troma entertainmennt has been in business since 1974.” It’s the longet running independant film company.
3. What is the ownership structure of your business? (sole proprietorship,
“Closely held corporation.”
4. How did you choose the name for your business?
“Troma is from ancient Latin. Book 2 of the Anied, meaning excellence in celluloid.”
5. Who are your direct competitors?
“The major conglomorates.” Sony, newscorp, viacom, Disney
6. What was the most difficult aspect of opening your business?
“Being taken advantage of by crooks, liars, and lunatics in the movie business, of which about 2% are reliable.”
7. What is the biggest day-to-day challenge in operating your business?
“The biggest challenge for Troma is we are independant and the rules protecting against monopoly have been done away with.”
(He actually started by answering “Trying not to shit my pants”, but I thought maybe I’d leave that part out…in hindsight, I kind of regret it.)
8. What is your biggest reward in operating your own business?
“I think the biggest reward in my business is the satisfaction of creating art. I’m an artist first and a businessman second.”
I thanked him for his time, and he actually stayed on the line and chit-chatted for a little while. Needless to say, I got an A on that assignment. A few months later, Lloyd returned to Gencon, and I took his seminar again. He was nice enough to pose for a picture with me and my homework.
I guess the moral of the story here is that sometimes you just have to go for it, I never thought I’d get to interview one of my industry idols, but lo and behold it happened, but enough of this uplifting horsepucky, go buy some Troma DVD’s!