An Evening with Lloyd Kaufman

Im Zuge unserer breit angelegten und international ausgerichteten Marketing-Initiative „Mehr Prominenz für Eskalierende Träume“ gelang uns im Juli 2010 ein aufsehenerregender Coup: durch unsere verdeckten Informanten wurden uns Hinweise zugespielt, denen zufolge Lloyd Kaufman, Chef des Independent-Imperiums Troma, sich zu einem privaten Treffen in den Duschanlagen im Katakombengewölbe der Nürnberger Altstadt verabredet hatte, direkt unter dem Hauptsitz des altehrwürdigen und noch immer regelmäßig Anstoß erregenden KommKinos, wo ihn zuvor eine wilde Meute aufgebrachter Moralhüter in die Flucht schlug. Noch bevor er zum Duschen antrat, gelang es uns, ihn abzufangen, durch Nürnberger Kellerbier gefügig zu machen und an unseren geprüften ET-Lügendetektor© anzuschließen, um pikante Details aus seinem privaten Anekdoten-Schatz zu ernten. Das Vernommene war derart ungeheuerlich, dass wir aus Sicherheitsgründen und zum Schutz unserer Mitarbeiter an dieser Stelle nur mit ausgewählten Auszügen an die Öffentlichkeit treten können.

Eskalierende Träume: What was the first film experience you remember?

Lloyd Kaufman: I think the first experience I had was when my mother took me to see Bambi, a Walt Disney movie about a small deer, and it was so frightening I was in the fetal position for about six month afterwards. I think Bambi is the most frightening movie I have ever seen. Yeah, it was terrible. After that, she took me to see Deep Throat, and then I was feeling much better.

At what age?

42. Ok, next question.

What where the films and filmmakers that influenced you?

In my teens I was more watching Broadway musicals. The Musicals of Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Loewe and Lerner, I think they informed my movies quite a bit. But when I went to Yale University I studied the auteur theory of cinema, which was propounded by the  Cahiers du cinéma, and as I speak fluent French, I read the articles of Chabrol, Truffaut and those guys who were writing about the auteur theory, and it was a big influence on me. And then, the movies which influenced me the most I think are Chaplin and Keaton and John Ford, Howard Hawks, Jean Renoir, Leni Riefenstahl, Fritz Lang of course, Samuel Fuller, and to some extent Roger Corman – he proved that you could make good movies for a low budget. But the auteur theory is probably what has ruined my life.

And it inspired you to make your own movies?

I think because I read Cahiers du cinéma it made the decision to make movies where I have total control, and where I am the author, the dictator of what will be on the celluloid, and it was a stupid idea because maybe I could have been the Michael Bay or Brett Ratner of today, but instead I chose to stay in New York and make movies that were very personal and movies that came from my heart and soul, and – how stupid was I!

Was there ever a dream project that you wanted to make but couldn’t because of financial or other reasons?

I’m not sure, but I think I would have liked to do a big budget version of Rodgers and Hart’s Pal Joey. It’s a musical that was made by Hollywood [George Sidney, 1957] but done very poorly. It would be expensive and I’ve never had the permission of the estate of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. They would never permit me to do that.

And how was your experience when you were shooting your first movie? What do you remember most about it?

When I was shooting my first film, the most important emotions I had were fear and stress. And when I shot Poultrygeist – Night of the Chicken Dead more than fourty years later, the most important emotions I had were fear and stress. It doesn’t change, no matter how many times I make a movie. I’m totally freaked out during pre-production and I’m totally convinced that we’ll never get to make the movie. It always looks to me like it’s the end of the world.

But afterwards, are you happy with the results?

Oh, I love the movies we’ve made. Most recently when we finished Poultrygeist, I thought it was a masterpiece. I believe that our films are terrific, and I always think, gee, a miracle will happen and I won’t be blacklisted and everyone will know about the movie and somehow there will be a happy ending to my career. But it’s not going to happen. I will die in obscurity and be labeled a loser the rest of my life.

Are there any contemporary filmmakers you admire, or specific recent films which you liked?

Takashi Miike, his movies are great, Gaspar Noé is great, Álex de la Iglesia in Spain is great. And Guillermo del Toro and David Fincher are also very good. There are very good filmmakers filming around that are pretty well known, and there’s definitely good mainstream movies. But unfortunately, there are very many great independent movies that nobody sees and so many directors come along who are great but can’t get distribution. They are economically blacklisted, make one or two movies – and then they go away. I saw a film from Greece called… shit what tells… ah, I think it’s called Dogtooth, that I thought was very good. Today there are many great films, but the general public doesn’t always see them. Troma has been lucky, I’ve been lucky, because we have a kind of creative brand and our fans make an extra effort to find our movies and support us and we just manage to get by. We have very little revenue, but because of our fans we are surviving. All the people who work for Troma, they always say: „You know Lloyd, when you’re dead the public will suddenly realize that you were a very important filmmaker and they’ll appreciate you, but you have to die first“.

So, if you’d die after the interview, is there one last thing you’d like to tell us?

Well… Certainly one of the greatest filmmakers of all time was Leni Riefenstahl. She had to stay in Germany because she was a woman and if she had come to New York or Hollywood, she would have been cutting negative or doing something useless, so she had to stay and, you know – she had the opportunity to make movies. But somehow my stepmother became friendly with her, and when Leni Riefenstahl would come to New York, she stayed with my father and my stepmother and we spent lots of time with her talking about movies. Also about Africa, cause I spent a year in Tschad and she spent time with the Nuba in Sudan. During one of her stays, she came to the very first screening of The Toxic Avenger we had for my investors. Leni Riefenstahl actually saw the full director’s cut of The Toxic Avenger before anyone else did (except the investors) and I asked her: „what did you think?“. I recall she said something like „oh, very interesting…“, and then she walked away. I don’t think she liked it.

She actually watched the whole film?

Yeah, we had investors who walked out of the theatre, but she stayed for the whole movie, and I noticed when she left her seat, it was a little bit wet. I don’t know what that means, but – very interesting…

Das Interview wurde spontan im Juli 2010 in Nürnberg, Deutschland geführt.

Ebenfalls sehr interessant das nachfolgende Video-Interview, für das Marian Meidel von RaubkoPictures noch am gleichen Abend mit Lloyd unter die Dusche gegangen ist: