Troma // 2005 // 720 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Bromley // March 23rd, 2006
It's film school in a box!
Write your own damn review!
Make Your Own Damn Movie is:
a) a new five-disc box set from Troma.
b) based on the book (of the same name) by Troma president Lloyd Kaufman, educating first-time and would-be filmmakers how to make independent films on the cheap and easy.
c) an exhaustive collection of behind-the-scenes footage, making-of documentaries, how-to segments, and interviews with filmmakers.
d) incredibly educational, consistently insightful, and always funny.
e) all of the above.
Disc One of Make Your Own Damn Movie! contains:
a) an introduction by Troma head-honcho Lloyd Kaufman.
b) short featurettes (ranging from two to ten minutes) on casting, raising money, and props.
c) behind-the-scenes footage of a French horror/western, demonstrating how shooting a trailer for your film (before even shooting the film) can help you find financing.
d) interviews with James Gunn (writer of Dawn of the Dead (2004) and the upcoming Slither) and Larry Cohen (Phone Booth and Cellular) about the process of screenwriting.
e) interviews with filmmakers John Avildsen (Rocky), John Badham (Saturday Night Fever), and Herschell Gordon Lewis (Blood Feast) in which they discuss directing their own damn movies.
f) a two-part featurette on directing music videos.
g) a five-part featurette on creating special effects the Troma way -- including head crushes, arm rips, and a new recipe for fake blood.
h) all of the above.
Disc Two of Make Your Own Damn Movie! contains:
a) the full-length feature film The Battle of Love's Return, Lloyd Kaufman's first movie.
b) a feature length commentary for The Battle of Love's Return, in which Lloyd Kaufman cannily points out the movies foibles and shortcomings -- the mistakes of a first-time director.
c) a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the too-personal independent movie The Tunnel, starring Mark Borchardt (the Ed Wood of Milwaukee, who made his own damn movie in Chris Smith's wonderful American Movie).
d) a profile of writer/director Chris Watson, who continues to make and distribute his own damn movies for little to no money- including Zombiegeddon, the film profiled here.
e) a featurette on how to make cheap movies on 35mm (real film as opposed to video), with Barak Epstein's Prison A-Go-Go as an example.
f) an interview with Jenna Fischer (star of the American version of The Office and wife of Troma veteran James Gunn) about the making of her first film, Lollilove.
g) the cautionary tale of Meat for Satan's Icebox, an independent film plagued by problems, mistakes, and incompetence.
h) interviews with directors Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) and the Spierig Brothers (the Australian duo behind last year's zombie/alien mash up, Undead) about the business of independent filmmaking.
i) a brief featurette on recording sound.
j) all of the above.
Disc Three of Make Your Own Damn Movie! contains:
a) the full-length documentary Apocalypse Soon, which chronicles the making of Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV (and was originally found on the second disc of that movie's release).
b) a collection of pre-production featurettes for Citizen Toxie.
c) a collection of post-production featurettes for Citizen Toxie.
d) outtakes from the Apocalypse Soon documentary.
e) all of the above.
Disc Four of the Make Your Own Damn Movie! contains:
a) the full-length documentary Farts of Darkness, which chronicles the making of Terror Firmer (and was originally found on the second disc of that movie's release).
b) behind-the-scenes footage of reshoots for Troma's Tales from the Crapper, a problem-plagued production and example of the kinds of issues even an "established" independent filmmaker like Lloyd Kaufman can face.
c) a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of Harry Knuckles and the Pearl Necklace, an independent film shot on the long-outdated Bolex camera.
d) a visit to Germany for the making of the independent horror film Lord of the Undead.
e) interviews with 98-year old filmmaker Vincent Sherman (The Naked Earth) and Trey Parker and Matt Stone (creators of South Park and the duo responsible for Team America: World Police).
f) all of the above.
Disc Five of the Make Your Own Damn Movie! contains:
a) the full-length documentary All the Love You Cannes!, chronicling Troma's visit to the famous film festival in France (and previously available as a separate DVD).
b) a short featurette on the post-production for Harry Knuckles and the Pearl Necklace.
c) a re-visit to Barak Epstein and his Prison A-Go-Go, which runs into trouble when SAG gets involved in the movie.
d) footage of Lloyd Kaufman's attending (and subsequent ditching) of the South by Southwest film festival.
e) a featurette on making your own damn movie theater, which features a short how-to on running a truly independent cinema in the age of the megaplex.
f) a featurette on making your own damn video store, which features a short how-to on running a truly independent video store in the age of the Blockbuster monopoly.
h) interviews with Bill Lustig (Maniac Cop) and George Romero (Dawn of the Dead) about working in the film business.
i) interviews with Adam Rifkin (The Chase) and Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) about the challenges faced by first time directors and working with unions.
j) interviews with Stan "The Man" Lee and Kevin Eastman (co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) about making your own damn comic book.
k) all of the above.
Lloyd Kaufman is:
a) the president and co-founder of Troma, an independent movie studio that specializes in horror movies containing copious amounts of sex and gore.
b) the director of a number of Troma classics, including the Toxic Avenger series, Troma's War, Tromeo and Juliet, and Terror Firmer.
c) the author of two very funny, very insightful books about the nature of independent filmmaking: Everything I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from The Toxic Avenger and Make Your Own Damn Movie!, the latter of which provided the inspiration for this incredible DVD box set.
d) an immature goofball who has an unhealthy preoccupation with breasts.
e) a mad genius.
g) all of the above.
What makes Make Your Own Damn Movie so good is:
a) the sheer depth and breadth of the material covered over these five discs.
b) how many voices and points of view Kaufman includes, from established directors (George Romero, Trey Parker) who insist on testing the limits of the studio system, to new directors with fresh tales from the trenches (Eli Roth ranting about how unions shook his production down during the shoot for Cabin Fever), to brand new and unknown directors making movies in their own backyards.
c) that Kaufman doesn't shy away from a number of the negative aspects of making low-budget indie movies, as he understands that learning from the mistakes of others sometime makes for the best lesson.
d) its ability to capture the madness involved in making Troma movies, which are only slightly less anarchic than their productions.
e) that it comes with its own diploma!
f) all of the above.
The downside to the Make Your Own Damn Movie! box is:
a) the near-total lack of organization, making the "lessons" less cohesive than they may have otherwise been and making the set occasionally hard to navigate.
b) that some of the lessons (like the one where Lloyd Kaufman teaches how to record sound for a film by suggesting you point the mic towards the actor and try not to have too much background noise) are fairly obvious and lame.
c) that the hand-held, video-camera filmmaking approach to some of the featurettes feels a bit like watching someone's home movies.
d) all of the above.
Make Your Own Damn Movie! is presented:
a) in full frame format only, from a number of different video sources that range in quality but are all watchable.
b) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio track (in English only), which -- like the video -- has been captured from a number of different sources, including the on-board mic of a consumer video camera, leading to a wide range of sound quality.
c) sans subtitles.
d) without any technical "extras," most likely because the pieces that make up the feature itself all resemble extra features -- in a sense, it's all bonus content.
e) all of the above.
Independent filmmakers should:
a) be inspired by Lloyd Kaufman, a true maverick and champion of the independent film scene who encourages personal responsibility and creativity.
b) take note of a number of the lessons given here, as many of them are quite valuable for first-time and independent filmmakers who lack experience or the resources of a larger system.
c) pick up Troma's five-disc Make Your Own Damn Movie! box set pronto!
d) stop reading this review and make their own damn movies.
e) all of the above.
The Verdict for all of the above is "all of the above."
Review content copyright © 2006 Patrick Bromley; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 720 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated