Produce Your Own Damn Movie DVD Review
Directed by Lloyd Kaufman
2011, Region 1 (NTSC), 300 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on September 13th, 2011
Greetings from Tromaville! Have you been hit by the downturn in the economy? The hard-working kids at Troma have, too. Times are tough and sometimes you have to let some people go. Cutbacks and layoffs are not going to stand in the way of quality entertainment, especially not when the fridge is filled with plenty of interviews to recycle! Troma has served up a generous selection of leftovers in a new release they call the Produce Your Own Damn Movie box set.
Lloyd Kaufman has been a powerhouse of independent cinema for 40 years. He continues to work for equality in the film industry so that all movies can receive the same chances of reaching an audience regardless of budget. His autobiography All I Need to Know About Filmmaking, I Learned From The Toxic Avenger (written in 1998 with James Gunn), was very well received and sparked an idea that Lloyd could reach out and help young hopefuls with a new format…books!
In 2003, Lloyd Kaufman penned another fantastic book titled Make Your Own Damn Movie, which was soon followed by a 5-DVD collection counterpart dubbed “Film School in a Box.” The centerpiece was a brand new feature-length documentary that presented an honest look at low-budget filmmaking as told through a series of interviews with Hollywood legends sharing tales in hopes of helping the next generation. Lloyd has spent years travelling the globe while shooting hand-held video of his adventures and it is this footage that is constantly mined for endless supplemental material.
Next came Direct Your Own Damn Movie, a fun book soon followed by an entertaining video counterpart with the same name filled with 4 discs of information and a new documentary. Both of these box sets relied heavily on previously released material that die-hard Troma fans are certainly familiar with (essentially the supplement discs from Terror Firmer and Citizen Toxie), but they also offered new documentaries and even an early Kaufman classic The Battle of Love’s Return, featuring a technical commentary track with Lloyd. Well worth the price of admission.
Now, times are tough and although Lloyd continues to write books (including Produce Your Own Damn Movie and $ell Your Own Damn Movie). The company needs another video tie-in, but unfortunately all of the previous material has been exhausted and the talented employees have moved on. What results is a simple act of laziness that provides a giant letdown of a missed opportunity. The “Your Own Damn” collection started as a 5-disc film-school collection, followed by a 4-disc companion and now this newest title is a 2-disc set that includes only two or three new interviews and recycles the rest.
While it is nice to see Monte Hellman (Two Lane Blacktop) doing dishes again, it is surprising that these interviews are simply presented in stand-alone 10-minute chunks without even being broken into relevant categories on the main menu. What information can truly be gleaned from the material is lost without having all the points edited together in a narrative structure as in the previous documentary collections.
New material is present, highlighted by the David Cronenberg (The Dead Zone) interview, although the source audio is a bit rough as all the material is grabbed on-the-fly (pun intended). Shoddy presentation is best addressed in the (now-damaged) new footage Lloyd shot on the set of James Gunn’s Super. Daunted by the challenge of actually editing out the impaired material, a title appears explaining that the source was defective and will now be known as “Troma-vision.” Funny? Sure. Lazy, too.
Neither the books nor the DVDs are getting any better, although Lloyd remains constantly entertaining. If there is anything to be learned from Troma, it is not going to be in this stale collection — honestly, two discs does not equal a box set — but rather if someone would put the effort into properly covering the Lloyd Kaufman Masterclass Seminar.
Video and Audio:
Video is serviceable with consumer grade handi-cam footage of Lloyd walking around with a camera strapped to his wrist. Picture quality varies from segment to segment but is never really fantastic nor atrocious.
Audio is provided by crappy camera mic in all its glory.
Honestly, this collection is nothing but special features from previous and future releases.