Lloyd Kaufman's Produce Your Own Damn Movie!:
Troma Entertainment presents this third installment in the Your Own Damn Movie DVD series, which can be augmented by a series of books, or even purchased in book and DVD boxed sets. It should be clear these materials are intended to educate Troma fans in the ways of making their own damn movies. As a building block in a nicely packed bag of educational forms, Kaufman's contributions can't be minimized, but even for casual fans of indie films, this 2 Disc DVD set is quite entertaining.
Having not read the books, I can't comment on their content, but I can say that this voluminous collection of interviews with producers and directors - both established and upstarts - is jammed with useful information and inspiration. From David Cronenberg to Roger Corman, and to the Duplass Brothers, with stops on the way for visits with guys like H.G. Lewis and James Gunn, Kaufman tracks down interviews both brief and lengthy with oodles of those in the know. There are set visits, and instructional moments such as a helpful 'Make Your Own Damn Green Screen' sequence. And all along the way buckets of advice and anecdotes pour down.
Though touted on the DVD cover as a 'step by step journey' to raising money, maximizing production values, and all the way through to pre-selling your movie, this 2-disc document is far more informal than that ... far more informal. What you have here is Kaufman providing you with 300 minutes worth of informational interviews with pros and up-and-comers you'd never be able to corner on your own, and from whom you wouldn't be able to get the directed candor that Kaufman elicits. There is tons of useful information to be gleaned, and if you don't wish to buy the books as a supplement, but do intend to use this set as part of your instructional arsenal, get ready to take notes. And then go ahead and reorganize them, if you'd like.
Neither will you find this to be some slickly edited, smoothly flowing, nice looking presentation: this is Kaufman walking around with a mini-DV camera, catching people on the fly, mostly. Some might be sitting in their offices, while others - such as Cronenberg - appear to be getting ready to sit on a panel discussion at a convention. This delivers candor and intimacy you won't find in fancier productions, while skirting such things as production values. But hey, this is Troma!
Aspiring filmmakers, check out the 'Your Own Damn Movie' series, and let me know what it's like. Snap it up because I'll bet it's worth it regardless. Grab these DVDs, too, but don't expect to plop this in the tray and be led from point A to point B, thinking you'll soon know exactly what to do. However, you'll still get a ton of useful advice, especially if you're a good study, and you'll probably watch certain segments multiple times as you get ready to produce your own damn movie. But even more casual movie fans (sure, I'd like to write a few screenplays some day - who wouldn't?) such as myself can find plenty of entertainment while enjoying these 'on the down low' interviews with indie movie greats. Lloyd's always got a trick up his sleeve, but here amongst the rock bottom production costs of this set is a treasure trove of information.
You are probably capable of placing images just as sharp and DV Home Movie-esque on your screen as those represented by this 1.33:1 presentation. It's pretty much Kaufman and a hand-held camera. As such, the image is very crisp in that digital way - i.e. a little harsh - and everything is lit in a flat, ambient manner. Then there are those interviews with Herschell Gordon Lewis, primarily filmed in soft, out-of-focus, dim glory on a Formica table in some diner.
Digital Audio is acceptable, meaning you can hear everything said clear enough. Crowd noise or sounds from the street are present, but don't get in the way.
No extras are included. It would be hard to distinguish an extra from anything else in this type of collection, anyway.
Aspiring indie filmmakers will get a ton of useful advice out of Produce Your Own Damn Movie!, depending on how closely you study or how many times you watch. It's not really a step-by-step guide, but this collection of open, impromptu interviews with indie vets of all stations delivers tons of anecdotes and real-world advice if you're ready to sort it out a bit. But even casual movie fans will find plenty of entertainment, enjoying these down and dirty interviews with indie movie greats. Lloyd's always got a trick up his sleeve, and here amongst the rock bottom production costs of this set is a treasure trove of information. Recommended.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com