Ed. note: Originally published at www.moviepoopshoot.com on 5 March, 2003. Original artwork by Ming Chen. Toxie and Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD are registered trademarks of Troma Entertainment, Inc. Used under license. Copyright 2003 Chris Lanphear.
Greetings from Tromaville!
With the TromaDance Team bent but not broken from hours upon hours of posting signs, handing out leaflets, freezing in the cold and being harassed by former employees and their minions, we had finally made it to the start of the festival. The majority of Wednesday the 22nd was spent readying the first night of screenings at Brewvies in Salt Lake City.
A problem quickly surfaced, though, in that our main contact in SLC, a volunteer by the name of Eric, was nowhere to be found. Jonathan, I and the rest of the team began to scramble, trying to figure out how to fix the situation. Lloyd Kaufman and Jonathan decided that I would have to assume leadership duties for Brewvies, given the events of the day. I gathered two volunteers, and a couple of our filmmakers. We packed the car, and sped from the condo to SLC. Screenings were due to start at 6 PM. We had two hours.
We arrived at Brewvies forty minutes later. Armed with posters, flyers, masks and 29 independent films, we covered the lobby, doors and windows with TromaDance paraphernalia. I met with the owner, Matt, and was shown to the projection room while the Tromites readied the building for our first official night of screenings.
Fuck Me Jesus on a pogo stick!
In Tromaville, our standards are always low. We do this because 1) we cant afford higher standards; and 2) anything better than what we envision will be a pleasant surprise. With that said, our expectance for the number of attendees the first night was fairly conservative. Since most of the festival madness takes place in Park City, we had no idea how many people would manage to find their way over to SLC, but Brewvies is a wonderful place to show movies, and based on our successes with them in the past, we chose them again to kick off the festival.
At around 5:50 or so, people started filing in to witness opening night of TromaDance 2003. A film that was part of Slamdance had been screening just previous to our festival. At around 6 PM, with the Toxic Avenger at my side, I went on stage and Toxie quickly took down the Slamdance banner and replaced it with a TromaDance one. The theatre (which was about half full at that point) cheered in unison and people began to scream Troma! It was quite a rush to see so many energized Tromites there to support truly independent film. I talked a bit about TromaDance and announced that Lloyd Kaufman would be arriving in about two hours. We then began with our first film, DAMN YOU MR. BUSH!
The festival ran quite smoothly. By the time Lloyd Kaufman arrived around 8 PM, the theatre was packed so fully that the only room available for people was in the aisles! When we announced Lloyd to the crowd, it felt like the Beatles had arrived. The crowd went absolutely nuts! The rest of the night went off without a hitch. Film highlights included REVOLVE by Gene Sung (who was present at the festival), THE YEAR CHRISTMAS ALMOST WASNT (review via FilmThreat) and GLAD TO SEE YOU (by Danielo Garcia, also in attendance). Overall, our first night of screenings at Brewvies was a tremendous success
After we returned from Brewvies, we had learned that our friends at the Backseat Film Festival, who had been performing at the Phat Tire Saloon (site of TromaDance, day two), were kicked out by the Phat Tire management. I wanted to celebrate, but I was exhausted from the nights screenings, and we had to prepare for day two, which started at 9 AM
At around 8:30 AM on Thursday, tired and restless from sleeping in the garage at the condo, I got up and headed downstairs to Phat Tire on Main Street. We began the screenings around 9:30, due to running severely behind schedule. Then the next obstacle reared its ugly, toxic head
At noon, we were scheduled to show a film entitled ON THE KILLING FLOOR, by filmmaker David Goeke. Because of the content it involved (a documentary about a New Jersey slaughterhouse), we knew it would be a button-pusher. The problem was that we had heard of similar films being shown at other festivals (including the now dead Backseat fest) and the reactions being so strong that they cleared the theatre. This now became an artistic dilemma. Should we: A) show the film and risk losing our audience; or B) try to show as many films as we can to as large of an audience as possible. After speaking with Lloyd and Jonathan, we decided to pull ON THE KILLING FLOOR from the lineup. Later that morning, we had heard that filmmaker David Goeke was flying in to attend the screening, and that led into the next problem.
Once David arrived at Phat Tire, Jonathan and I explained to him that we were pulling the film and our reasons behind it. We felt bad, because we had maintained that the film was true art, and that it deserved to be seen. But there were too many other factors involved at this point. He was understandably upset, and offered alternatives. After many conversations between us, David and Lloyd, we decided to show the film, with Lloyd speaking about it before it was shown. Much to my surprise, the film, while incredibly graphic, was extremely well-received by all who saw it. David also did a short Q&A session with the audience after the film, and proclaimed, Yes, I do still eat meat!
We Get a Dose of The Real World
After the conclusion of ON THE KILLING FLOOR, filmmaker/Super Tromette Heidi Sjursen, myself, and several of the TromaDance filmmakers headed out for lunch. Whilst walking uphill on Main Street, we spotted Puck, of MTVs The Real World fame across the street. We had heard through the grapevine that Puck was a Troma fan, so Heidi decided to greet him and give him an invitation to our private party later that night. Although her method of greeting him was a bit extreme.
She ran up and grabbed his ass.
This single solitary action prompted Puck (whose last name is Rainey) to throw Heidi on the ground and spit on her. He also attempted to hit one of our filmmakers, Ben Oliver (maker of TD selection TORPOR), who had been filming this whole scene. We told Puck we wanted no trouble, and we all went back to the restaurant.
After we all ordered lunch, we started to watch our new short film, entitled WHEN PUCKS ATTACK, when all of a sudden, he burst into the restaurant, screaming at us and flailing his arms around like a maniac, shouting, I know Lloyd Kaufman, and Im gonna get you fired! To this, I replied, I know Lloyd, too. In fact, I work for him, after which point I proceeded to hand him a business card, which he threw back at me.
This is Park City! Im a celebrity! Im gonna get you arrested! he exclaimed.
Puck was asked several times by the staff to leave, which he eventually did. We didnt want any trouble, and fearing possible arrest, our waitress proceeded to sneak Heidi and I out the back of the restaurant and we zipped back to Phat Tire
Twenty minutes later, after the next round of films had started, I was told by one of the Tromites that Puck was upstairs yelling at Lloyd. When I got up there, he was in Lloyds face screaming, I want that bitch fired!
Okay, FuckI meanPuckjust calm down. Lloyd replied with a none-too-coy grin on his face.
By this time, a small crowd had surrounded the Phat Tire Saloon, watching Puck scream and flail as he always does on TV, but this time, in person! After another ten minutes of screaming at Lloyd, myself and Troma Supervising Editor Gabe Friedman (who had been filming the whole event for our upcoming TromaDance documentary, IN SEARCH OF INDEPENDENCE), Puck went across the street, and proceeded to remain outside of our venue for another hour.
Oh, that Puck
Get Down, the TromaDance Way!
At 5 PM, we hosted the Make Your Own Damn Movie! forum discussion with Michael Ruggiero of the Independent Film Channel, Jean Prewitt of the American Film Market, Chris Gore of FilmThreat, Angela Brown of SLUG Magazine, Lloyd Kaufman, Pat Swinney Kaufman, and Richard Elfman, director of TD selection DATE OR DISASTER! Many topics were covered, including budgeting, sound vs. visuals, marketing, and of course, the CLERKS comparison discussion.
We showed our closing film, the Troma-produced ALL THE LOVE YOU CANNES! AN INDIES GUIDE TO THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL, to a packed house. Around 9 PM, we prepared for the TromaDance closing party, which was filled up to the brim as soon as we opened the doors. Entertainment from Portland Organic Wrestling and former wrestler Sid Vicious led up to our later showcase performance by Jersey hardcore rockers Satanicide. Id tell you more about the party, but I cant presently remember the rest of it!
TromaDance 2003 went out in style. We had a blast, and shook things up in the circus act that is Sundance. Make sure you join us in Park City next year for TromaDance 2004 as we continue on our quest to bring art back to the people!
My personal special thanks to so many people, without whom TromaDance 2003 would not have been possible: Jonathan Lees, Lloyd Kaufman, Gabe Friedman, Michael Ruggiero, Mike & Dolores Collins, Heidi Sjursen, Jamie Greco, Daniel Cooper, Gene Sung, Danielo Garcia, Lola RocknRolla, scot-free, Richard Elfman, Matt @ Brewvies, Casey and everyone @ Phat Tire, and all of the other wonderful filmmakers, sponsors and volunteers who made TromaDance 2003 such a success!
Remember, Toxie Loves You!
Chris Lanphear still watches The Real World. For more reports from TromaDance 2003, check out coverage from www.tromamovies.com.