The marketplace is overflowing with informational books about how to get your latest indie feature distributed. Most of these, unfortunately, are by-the-numbers and dry as dust. So what makes Lloyd Kaufman’s new book, Sell Your Own Damn Movie! (Focal Press, 258 pages, $19.95), any different? Simple: While the book relays much practical information about how to get your movie distributed, it does so in a funny, entertaining way—so that while you learn about the various methods of distribution, you feel mentally engaged and may even find yourself laughing out loud.
This is the third installment in Kaufman’s “Your Own Damn Film School” book series, following Direct Your Own Damn Movie! and Produce Your Own Damn Movie! As the co-founder and president of Troma Entertainment, the world’s longest-running independent film studio (best known for The Toxic Avenger, which the author also co-wrote and directed), Kaufman has had much experience in the realm of indie distribution. His unabashedly cheesy movies—filled to the brim with blood, breasts and bawdy humor—also inform his conversational, irreverent writing style. Just as in a Troma movie, Kaufman isn’t afraid to switch gears unexpectedly to make some foul-mouthed, weirdly funny observations (the nonstop footnotes are especially hilarious).
Aside from his personal advice about how best to sell your movie, Kaufman also includes dozens of interviews with some of the most successful moviemakers on the indie scene today. From an informational standpoint, these are the most valuable sections of the book as successful indie auteurs such as David Cronenberg, Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity), Troma veteran James Gunn (Super; Slither) and prolific indie producer Ted Hope (Adventureland; The Brothers McMullen) reveal their own rough and tumble experiences in the world of indie distribution.
In Kaufman’s epilogue, he perhaps best sums up the key point of the book by saying, “Being an independent filmmaker and selling your own damn movie is all about humiliation. It’s about putting yourself out there, ego be damned.” And if the irrepressibly goofy, yet passionately driven Kaufman knows anything, it’s how to put your ego on hold. That, perhaps, is why Troma still lives on today, and why moviemakers interested in finding out more about independent distribution should give this wickedly funny yet enlightening book a read.