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DVD Stalk Blog - Stalking You Daily!

The Godfather of Gore Speaks


Greetings from Tromaville!

Troma is known, among other things, for rarely shying away from the gore (see Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Bloodsucking Freaks, and Redneck Zombies for examples), but we certainly were not the first people to do this. Herschell Gordon Lewis is a producer/director who has been previously anointed the "Godfather of Gore" for being a pioneer in horror and exploitation films. Some of his most popular films include Blood Feast, widely considered to be the first gore film, Monster a Go-Go, and The Gore Gore Girls (my personal favorite of his.) Lewis has also written 31 books (mostly on the arts of advertising and marketing), some of which include Effective E-mail Marketing: the Complete Guide to Creating Successful Campaigns and Open Me Now: Direct Mail Envelopes that Work...and Those That Don't. Herschell was the first director to show dead people on screen with their eyes open. Here's some sage advice from Herschell on the fine art of producing and marketing from my latest book Produce Your Own Damn Movie!

HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS SAYS "DISTRIBUTION, DISTRIBUTION, DISTRIBUTION"

If you want to be a producer, before you begin producing, make contact with a distributor of motion pictures who distributes either to DVD outfits or movie theatres and have a solid business-like conversation- not a "Golly gee willikers!" chat, but a solid discussion of the reality, saying, "Here is my situation, Mr. Distributor. I want to make a movie, not because I am simply dazzled by the glamour of the motion picture industry, but because I think that is a profitable way to proceed. Your company has distributed movies of this type and shown that they can be profitable. Here's what I have in mind and I would like your opinion. Ultimately, I would like more than your blessing, I would like your involvement. But I would certainly cherish and benefit from anything you might tell me that will help me get this project off the ground.

When someone in our business hears sincerity, backed by some degree of talent and business acumen, that person will react to it. Lloyd and I and everyone else who do this are constantly approached by people who want to produce movies. Why do they want to do this? If you penetrate down to the nasty core of reality, they want to produce a movie because they want to produce a movie. It is just that simple. A good producer has characteristics that run parallel to those of a good executive.

1. A good producer leaves his ego at the door and is not afraid to delegate responsibly.

2. A good producer is not afraid to give compliments as well as insults.

3. A good producer sets realistic goals, not pie-in-the-sky goals. That realism doesn't come from guesswork but from a knowledge of what he or she is going to do. Hence, think marketing and distribution way up front, Mr. Producer!

4. A good producer has to have a sense of humor and be reasonably unflappable in case disaster strikes. I don't care what you are shooting, how low or high the budget is, how much help you have or don't have; something is going to happen that represents a minor catastrophe.

5. A good producer should treat himself/herself as a part of the team. Problems will occur, almost always, over money- not over amount of screen time or lines of dialogue, but money. You have to understand that when you go in. A producer's function is to understand exactly how much money each person is getting paid, how much each location is going to cost, who is responsible for what and who gets what.

6. Finish strong. Pretend that you are not someone who is producing a movie, just a person who is watching someone else's movie. Be heartless in your analysis of what you see at the tail end of the film. You've got to have a good ending. In our business, there is no sin more cardinal than a half-finished picture. If you're not going to make it at all, there is no harm done. If you can't put your deal together, there is no harm done. But if you have it halfway done and you are afraid, so you stop and think you'll never get it done, that's a big mistake. I've seen that so often; someone will start a picture, then they'll run out of money, or they'll run out of ideas, or the cast leaves, something happens, and what have you got? Nothing.

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