Cannibals, iPhone Movies, and a Kaufman vacation

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What happens when you are stranded on a desert Island with Lloyd Kaufman and his family?

It was Christmas morning, and we found ourselves stranded on an island off the cost of Tunisia.  As the cars piled up around us with no ferries to the mainland, the intensity heightened.

Six people, three hours, four hundred cars, one iPhone and no Tunisian Ferries later, we had two choices: we could eat someone to live, or we could make a movie!

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Toxie Teaches Bjarni Gautur about Censorship, the Environment and having a great Mom

TOXIC CRUSADER Bjarni Gautur writes about GROWING UP TOXIC on Marvel Toxic Avenger comics and Crusaders to working for LLOYD:  Life lessons learned from the Toxic Avenger about censorship, the environment and the importance of having a good mom!

My favorite Troma memory is probably when I got to meet Lloyd Kaufman for the first time. I grew up watching the Toxic Crusaders and reading the Marvel imprinted comic books (that were really censored when they were published in Sweden) and I fell in love with the great messages they were bringing forward into the cartoon medium. I loved the environmental message that the stories had as well as taking away the vanity of beauty. Most cartoons, even those who talked about the environment like Captain Planet, had things as far sighted with how the good guys looked good and the bad guys looked bad, so I can’t even talk about how awesome it was seeing hideously deformed mutants of superhuman size and strength be the good guys. With Toxie’s mom, of course. I still think more super heroes need the support of a good mom.

But I am getting off track. After a life of Toxic Crusaders in my youth, I learned of the actual Toxie movie at the age of 10, and finally got the chance to watch it 13, alongside the rest of the trilogy and I was Troma-hooked. Despite living in Iceland during my teen years, I ordered films off eBay and Amazon in order to make a Troma collection and during my first trip to the US in 2005 (for my 16th birthday) I ransacked a local Virgin (superstore) and bought their entire Troma stock of 20 movies, I would continue to do so during every trip I took to the US, fill my ratio of Troma related merchandise.

But in 2005, which was the first time I could really start building up my Troma collection, was also the time I got a letter from a Troma employee asking me if I wanted to play Toxie during the first Icelandic Independent International Film Festival. I was very lucky getting said letter because being a part of the generation that was born with the Internet, I found a way to send e-mails to everyone I wanted to talk to, despite social statuses or how big they were. Sometimes I would get replies, sometimes not. Lloyd Kaufman, Michael Herz and the Troma Team always answered my e-mails, even when I was 13 giving them bad plots to upcoming movies. It could have been an e-mail about me going to the bathroom but I would always get a very positive reply from Troma, telling me how awesome it was to hear from me.

And now, because of my e-mails I had sent in hopes of getting some more Troma films to Iceland (so that more people in Iceland could enjoy them), I was a candidate to help Lloyd during his trip to my hometown. I the first time I met him I think was at the screening of the first Toxic Avenger, the local cinema downtown had given the festival it’s biggest screen. I had brought a lot of friends whom I had introduced to Troma, and then suddenly while talking just how awesome this was, a small man walked in whom I had only seen in DVD intros and special features on his movies. There he was. The man who has inspired me more then even he knew.

When I was three years old. I had already decided want I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to make movies, cartoons and comic books. All featuring the same social commentary that Toxic Crusaders had. My dad told me that cartoons had environmental messages in hopes that the next generation wouldn’t be as bad as the generation before them and I felt that this was a worthy cause, teach by entertain. Kaufman was the hero when it came to this. Having obscene comedies always filled with actual good messages. Over the years, he had become one of the greatest heroes in my life.

And there he was, just walking into the theater. He came in alone, without introduction, just walked right in, something I wouldn’t expect from someone of his caliber. I felt like we were dealing with royalty, if my friend hadn’t pointed out that he just walked into the door, I wouldn’t even have noticed him.

I was the first to walk up to him, still in shock that I was actually meeting my idol, I might have actually scared him during out first initial meeting seeing that I just stared at him without saying anything. Finally I raised my hand as fast as I could so I could shake is and tried to introduce myself while stuttering and telling him how awesome he was. There were so many questions I wanted to ask him, stories I had heard about the films, little things I was curious about, but they were all arriving in my head at the same time, I didn’t know what to say. All I could say is how big of a fan I was.

Lloyd nodded, went into his man purse and pulled out a DVD for me. This would be our relationship for the next five days during the festival. I would try to conjure up some of the many questions I had about Troma, while he would tell me and my friends jokes as he would keep giving us DVD’s, very happy at the loyal fanbase that had brewed up here in Iceland and then we would walk in together to see a Troma film. Despite Lloyd introducing most of the Troma films and me being at most of the screenings. I only played Toxie once.

During the first screening of the 1984 cult classic in Iceland. Lloyd did an amazing speech on how the idea for the movie came and had a Q&A afterward, he had directed me on how I should act before we started and I tried to do it was well as possible. I didn’t want to screw anything up, but I was nervous. I had one line. A roar. I was suppose to roar when Lloyd asked me if there was anything that he forgot to mention, I did it right on que, and people laughed and clapped. The exact moment I did it I felt that I didn’t do it well enough, but everyone seemed to be happy, so I decided to join them with that emotion, wasn’t hard, seeing that I was standing next to one of the greatest directors of our time.

The next day I even got Lloyd to have a cameo in my first feature length project. A movie we were going to give to Troma the moment we were finished with it. Seeing that we did it at age 15, it was pretty good, we had a three act storyline, character development, decent gore and LLOYD KAUFMAN in a cameo. But the movie never did get a proper release, which is understandable, it was just made by some 15 year olds.

Charles Dickens once wrote something or other with the words “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” All I know is that I have never experience the ‘worst of times’ since. My days with Troma have always been my ‘best of times’. But, my favorite quote has always been in a rendition of the Bard’s most famous play, my all time favorite quote of course being “They found a peanut of DEATH!”. Great words, from the great masters of our time.

I am now living the dream in Tromaville, working with mr. Kaufman on his latest feature, The Return to the Class of Nuke ‘Em High.

Thank you guys for all the memories and inspirations.

-Bjarni Gautur 

Stay tuned for more to follow from Bjarni on his experience slaving away in Niagara, New York on RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH we hope!!

Grammy Kaufman – clues to understanding Lloyd

The below article was originally posted on the BREAD & CIE BLOG:   Into the Hearth Of Darkness  (For those who don’t know, our very own uncle, Charles Kaufman, Writer and director of classics including WHEN NATURE CALLS, MOTHERS DAY and of brother of Lloyd Kaufman.

Uncle Charles, as we call him, is the founder of  San Diego famed bakery Bread & Cie, which is hands down the best bread, period. He has since become the Donald Trump of the Baking Industry, growing quite an empire – he’s got alot of Dough!    We follow his blog, and today we learned a lesson about our family Kaufman history…   If you too would like to learn about Grammy Kaufman, check out the below story which originally ran on the Bread & Cie blog.

The story behind Bread & Cie’s challah

Posted by  on April 24, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Bread and Cie challah

Bread & Cie’s six-braid challah

Even though we’re all about rustic European breads here at Bread & Cie, it’s kind of funny that one of our most popular items is challah.

Challah is a soft, sweet braided bread traditionally used for Jewish Sabbath dinners. As a Jewish person who has consumed plenty of challah over the years, I can wholeheartedly say that, yes, ours is the best. (I’m only sorry that it’s not Kosher because I can’t share it with my religious friends.)

Millie Kaufman

Grammy Kaufman

Recently, Charles mentioned that the challah recipe was his grandmother’s. I was about to  get all sentimental about it, but he stopped me. Apparently Millie Kaufman wasn’t really all that grandmotherly. She cursed. She ate raw food. She lived in Manhattan. She was no warm, fuzzy sitcom kind of grandma.

But those things sounded pretty awesome to me, so I asked Charles to tell us more about the woman responsible for the San Diego’s best challah.

1. Millie Kaufman, food pioneer

Back in the 1950s, before people worried about eating vegan and growing their own vegetables, Grammy Kaufman was buying organic and baking bread from scratch. She also followed the teachings of Scott Nearing, who (Wikipedia says) was a political activist and advocate of simple living. Millie went to Nearing retreats in Vermont, where they’d spend four hours working in the field, four hours doing something intellectual and four hours engaged in something spiritual. I think I may try to adopt this lifestyle one day.

2. Millie Kaufman, socialist

Charles was about five-years-old when he’d go to Grammy Kaufman’s apartment in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Apparently, Charles’ father was supposed to be visiting with her once a week, but instead he’d drop off his three kids and he’d go off and do his own thing in the city from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Millie had newspapers everywhere and would go on rants about politicians like Richard Nixon and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Kaufman siblings knew more about Karl Marx before they got out of elementary school than most people know about the socialist philosopher in their lifetime.

3.  Millie Kaufman, baker

In her neighborhood, which, at the time was an extension of Harlem, Millie was known as the “old lady in tennis sneakers.” She was loud and cantankerous and everyone on 103rd Street recognized her. But what temporarily calmed Millie down was feeding her grandkids. She was worried about pesticides and only served them organic meals. And along with baking fresh challah, she’s also responsible for Bread & Cie’s Seedy Multigrain.

4. Charles Kaufman, traditionalist 

Grammy Kaufman passed away when Charles was 8-years-old, but she left behind  her recipes. And once Charles got into the bread business, he experimented with the challah. Instead of making it with three braids, for instance, he made it with six. He added  poppy and sesame seeds. But everything else he kept exactly the same and that’s the challah (and brioche) that we’ve all come to love.

I asked Charles what he his grandmother might say if she knew he was selling her bread all over town.

“She’d take a taste and ask how much I was charging. And after I’d tell her she’d say ,’What, do you want to be the richest man in the cemetery?”

More Wisdom from Professor SL Kaufman

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Lloyd Kaufman Oxford Master Class MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE.

I’m at the master class, and it’s a great success. Troma fits right in at Oxford, among the classical literary greats of history. Dad does needs a little help with some translating the English in the Q&A into American.

Great Format: Dad will introduce a subject and lecture a lesson, for example: brainstorm the script with a group of writers. Then he will show a clip of a well known filmmaker who has made his way through Troma to Hollywood : James Gun screenwriter dawn of the dead, Scooby Doo and wife Jenna Fischer The Secretary from the show The office, or Eli Roth, or Stan Lee creator of Spider Man. Next he will show a hilarious clip of Troma behind the scenes: how Troma team brainstorms the script, cut with clips of the film that was produced in the end. Very funny and informative

Movie tip: Low budget luxury of non union films is you can shoot in sequence. Unions have such strict rules about hours while stars so highly paid that big budget films have to consolidate and shoot scenes out of order. Meanwhile non union Troma shoots in order of timeline of movie so has flexibility to make changes to plot, character development.

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Professor Lloyd Gives Oxford Master Class

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I’m on the road with dad, tagging along at Oxford University, the intellectual capital of the world, where dad has been invited to give a master class.

The Honorable Roger Kirby and St. Hilda’s College at the University of Oxford present… LLOYD KAUFMAN MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE! MASTER CLASS

Dad is giving a crash course in indie filmmaking, the TROMA way to a packed sold out room of students, journalists, professors, fans and Harry Potter.

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Filmmakers and actors dad has worked with, like Eli Roth, share advice via video. Here, Eli talks about the value of starting out as a PA on a movie to learn Filmmaking, Tarantino learned the ropes as a PA before he ran the show on Resevoir Dogs, Roth reminds filmmaker hopefulls:

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Ninja Zombies Screening!

You may recall back in August when we caught up with Yalie filmmaker Noah Cooper, up and coming director of Ninja Zombies (2010) on the scene at Troma studios.   Well we have exciting news, we’ve just been invited to see a screening!

The Mark Twain House & Museum reanimates a lifeless Saturday night in Hartford with an evening of undead laughs and ninja action. Connecticut filmmakers have asked MTH&M to unearth a rough cut screening of their new “bromaction-comedy” NINJA ZOMBIES. This work-in-progress charts the adventures of a group of nerds who must do battle with beer-soaked buddies and blood-spattered ninja zombies. Sequences of the film were shot at …the legendary Troma Studios in New York!

New short film starring Lloyd by Sister #3 and CALL FOR TROMA TECHNOPHILES

[http://vimeo.com/11494393]

Tromemoir fans, bingo at the senior center didn’t work out as planned this week, so we’re still running on our student budget/monthly allownace –> no fancy expensive website update this week.

WordPress blog has been a great home for us so far so far, but we want to make it more active and engaging for you guys. We’ve  received so many requests to contribute to  the blog and participate live right here.  We want you to be able to post your own artwork and share your own tromemories with one another.   We wish we could provide a forum that would make this possible. If you know a cheap way can you please let us know!?

So we would like to ask you if anyone has recomendations for better layout or ways that we could make our blog easier for you to use, and more importantly easier for you  talk to us and to one another on the blog PLEASE LET US KNOW!  send us a comment here on the blog or email us at tromemoir@gmail.com.

Now, enjoy this This is a fictional vignette sister #3 wrote, filmed produced and directed for a film class, staring our very own pops – your very own LLOYD KAUFMAN. Any similarities with reality are merely coincidental… she dramatized real people and a real setting to portray a more pessimistic version of reality. she does not wish to discourage anyone from the horror film- making career! lets make some art!

[http://vimeo.com/11494393]

Thanks!!

your troma sisters

Tromemoir to publish winner of TROMATIC FLASH FICTION FRIDAY

Calling all Troma Authors! Send your creative TROMATIC FLASH FICTION, 550 words or less, by Sunday August 15th at Midnight  (to tromemoir@gmail.com).

FLASH FICTION!

HERE are the key ingredients:

CHARACTERS: The Toxic Avenger, Sgt Kabuki Man, and Jet Blue Male Flight Attendant Steven Slater

LOCATION: Basement of Troma Studios (including warthog-sized rats and roaches the size leprechaun fists)

PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND: Justin Bieber song, on repeat.

Now WRITE!

You have until Sunday at midnight to create and complete  your flash fiction, and send your piece to us at tromemoir@gmail.com.

Winners will be selected by LLOYD KAUFMAN and posted here!

NET NEUTRALITY = WORLD WIDE (WEB) DEMOCRACY

A recent New York Times cover story reported Verizon and Google are nearing a deal which could threaten Net Neutrality and impede freedom of the internet as we know it.

Dad is always ranting about net neutrality, and he has been for a couple years.  You’ve probably seen his Net Neutrality PSA (click here) But WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY?? We realized we don’t really understand.  So we cornered dad at his office and asked him to break down what Net Neutrality means, and why it is so important to you, me and anyone who uses the internet.

Michael Herz joined the discussion and added the important point that Net Neutrality levels the playing field beyond access alone, also guaranteeing the speed at which websites operate.  Without Net Neutrality some websites will run faster and with higher quality than others.