Long Island City film studio Troma has always prided itself on being an independent movie studio — free to make any movies the way it wants without answering to suits with their final cut.
But as is the case with many independent artists, finding a resource for funds is a big issue.
Troma’s managers are now turning to their loyal fan base for help with their next project on the crowd funding website Indiegogo.com.
The project, “Occupy Cannes,” will take a critical look at the workings of one of the most well-known film festivals in the world, the Cannes Film Festival. It will document how a small studio, such as Troma, is shut out and spotlight the ubiquitous presence and advantage the major movie studios hold at the festival.
The movie is a follow up to Troma’s 2002 documentary, “All the Love You Cannes,” which had a similar premise.
The studio’s president and co-founder Lloyd Kaufman, no relations to Kaufman Astoria Studios, has been attending the festival since 1971, when its film “Sugar Cookies” was screened. He says the focus has shifted and gotten away from supporting independent films.
“It was an incubator of new and risk-taking talent and art and it really was a genuine festival,” he said. “Since the ’90s it has become very elitist.”
Kaufman said the festival has now become more about the extravagant parties and big-budget Hollywood films that already have the recognition and money to market themselves.
“I guarantee you that that many of the movies this year will be opening worldwide after Cannes and do not need a festival to promote them,” he said.
Cannes isn’t the only major film festival Troma has butted heads with. After being “mistreated,” as Kaufman put it, by the Sundance Film Festival, the studio created its own film festival, Tromadance. Unlike Sundance, “where you pay to have your movie rejected” Kaufman said, there is no entry fee for Tromandance.
Kaufman is hoping fans support his latest effort at exposing Cannes. The goal is to raise $50,000. So far $20,000 has been raised. The money will be spent mostly on travel expenses and for marketing materials such as leaflets, a booth and picket signs.
Troma’s most recent movie, “Return to Class of Nuke ’Em High,” will also be screened at a theater near Cannes in hopes of attracting international distributors for the film.
This isn’t the first time Troma has gone directly to its fans for financial help. For “Return to Class of Nuke ’Em High,” they initiated a campaign on Kickstarter, another crowd-funding website. Troma asked fans to donate money to help pay the cost of having a live duck that could do tricks and Kaufman said, the response was enormous.
With very few other independent studios in the film world, Kaufman sees fundraising as a major opportunity to continue Troma’s own independence.
“If [the fans] wish to preserve the flame of independent art and commerce, they should contribute,” he said. “We’re the last man standing. If we go, I don’t think there will be anyone else.”
Anyone interested in donating to the project can go to indiegogo.com/OccupyCannes.