Chapters 5 & 6: Working FREE-Lance & Becoming a Full-time Tromite

Greetings from Tromaville! Here are Chapters 5 & 6 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. Since they are short and related, I am including both chapters here. If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book as well as Chapter 123, and 4. You can also see me read a few chapters live, along with Lloyd and Toxie, at Florida Supercon as well as a few chapters I read on Facebook Live. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

 

Chapter 5: Working FREE-Lance

Lloyd, Michael, and I hit it off quite well, and I was immediately fond of them and enamored by the crazy, self-contained, and self-controlled world they had created for themselves in that messy building on Ninth Avenue. But despite our good connection, they had absolutely zero interest in doing any business with Satori. Troma was, and is, fiercely independent, and if anyone were going to distribute their movies to pay TV and beyond, it would be them (or someone willing to pay an exorbitant fee in the form of an offer they could not refuse.) So we parted ways as friends.

Until, some six months later, when I decided to leave my job at Satori to become a screenwriter.

I had been with Satori for five and a half years and at that point felt I had gone as far as I could within the organization in its current structure. It had been a great run for me, and I had gained incredible experiences there, producing the early Cable TV show, Celebrity with hostess Alison Steele, traveling the world to film festivals, and much, much more. But my personal creative itch was screaming to be scratched. I wanted to be a screenwriter and make movies. While Satori gave me many opportunities to be creative, it was clear the company was on a path focused more on distribution than production, and I wanted to make stuff.

So I struck out on my own, with the initial goal of writing (and hopefully selling) original screenplays. I got to work on my very first screenplay, Wunderkind, and upon completion, I sent it over to Lloyd and asked him to read it. While a comedy, Wunderkind wasn’t a Troma-style film, but I was hoping to get feedback from someone who actually made movies.

Lloyd was kind enough to read my script, and he and Michael invited me to visit them again in Tromaville to see what I was up to. I once again found myself sitting in the kooky chasm between the desks of Messrs. Kaufman and Herz. I was young and green and passionately told them how “I wanted to write and make movies.” They said that based on Wunderkind they thought I could write and if I wanted to, I could write a screenplay for them. They had an idea for a story.

They offered to pay a little something if I was able to turn their story idea into a full screenplay. My recollection was that it was around $1,200, payable when an acceptable script was delivered. I probably would have done it for free, but it was even more exciting to have a “paid” writing assignment. I was briefed on their story idea, took notes and their treatment, and got to work on it.

During the eighteen months after leaving Satori, I wrote three full screenplays (Wunderkind, Deep Cover, and the Troma Project). I also formed a production company with Academy Award-winning animator Jimmy Picker and another partner to write and produce a clay-animated and live-action special, My Friend Liberty, which aired on CBS in the summer of 1986 to mark the hundredth anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. Troma paid me my small fee, I made a modest fee from My Friend Liberty, and one of my screenplays, Deep Cover, was optioned by a Hollywood producer. I also got married, and we eventually became pregnant.

I thought My Friend Liberty would immediately lead to tons of work for our burgeoning production company and that I was on my way. But I was way off in my naive enthusiasm. More production work was not forthcoming, and the dwindling funds and insecurities of the freelance life were not conducive to starting a family, not to mention supporting one. I needed a job. A real job. I settled for working for Troma.

•••

Chapter 6: Becoming a Full-time Tromite

Back at the Troma Building, I told Lloyd and Michael that I was ready for full-time employment. I wanted to make movies. They thought that was nice. But, they weren’t in production on anything at the moment, and besides, they didn’t really pay much to the folks they hired for production work since there were so many willing and eager to work for literal peanuts (and a cold beverage to wash the nuts down with) just to gain some hands-on experience on a real film crew. If I wanted a working wage, I’d need to do something more important than making the movies, I’d have to sell them.

Given my background in acquisitions and distribution over at Satori, they thought I’d be the perfect guy to start moving Troma into the blooming home-video and pay-TV markets. It wasn’t much of a salary, but it was a real job. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it was a step closer to making movies, and I figured (correctly, as it turned out) that once they were actually in production again, I’d find a way to get more intimately involved in that process, along with my sales responsibilities.

We came to an agreement and shook hands. And Lloyd walked me out into the main office, swiped a mess of papers off the corner of a desk where there was a phone, and pulled up an orphaned chair. “Here you go, Sass,” as he pointed to the workspace he just created. “Welcome to Tromaville!”

And so it began.

•••

 

That’s Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 – Two more short and sweet ones (are you seeing a pattern here? This book is an easy, enjoyable read!) Stay tuned for “Chapter 7: Branding Begins on the Ground Floor” where I share insights as to how Troma built a unique brand that has lasted more than forty years… 

 

 

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Chapter 4: Trailer Trash

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 4 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book as well as Chapter 12 and 3. You can also see me read this chapter live, along with Lloyd and Toxie, at Florida Supercon. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

 

Chapter 4: Trailer Trash

Having huffed and puffed my way up to the fourth floor, I entered the editing lair. Here, there were a few seemingly ancient Moviola “flatbed” film editing consoles. Remember, this was more or less predigital, and still in the age of film. Editing involved literally cutting and splicing strips of film and magnetic sound tapes in an attempt to make something cohesive. A film editor works with prints of the raw footage that was shot during production. When the edited film is finalized and approved by the director, it gets sent to a “negative cutter”—someone skilled in the art of carefully and cleanly handling the camera negatives. The negative cutter conforms the original film negative to the approved edit, and that cut negative, when married to optical effects and a fully mixed soundtrack, becomes the master from which all the prints are made, that eventually end up in theaters. This was 1985. The first nonlinear video editing systems were just being demonstrated and were several years away from being put to any practical use by filmmakers. And, anyway, Troma was decidedly “old school” in those days.

As I took my tour with Lloyd, he showed me a work in progress, a new trailer for the intentionally gross, soon to become legendary, Troma epic, The Toxic Avenger. The film had enjoyed some early notoriety but had yet to find its niche in B-movie history as the so-called cult classic it remains today. I don’t think I had actually seen The Toxic Avenger at the time, but its reputation preceded it and I had a pretty good inkling as to what it was all about. My impression, from reviews and word of mouth, was that it was fairly gross and somewhat sophomoric, yet somehow charming and disarming because of an underlying sweetness and humor. Lloyd showed me the trailer in progress, which was fairly graphic and straightforward, and ended with a particularly dry and emotionless tagline, “A Different Kind of Hero!”

Lloyd asked me what I thought. I answered honestly. “Meh.” My understanding was that part of the movie’s appeal was that it had an element of comedy to it, despite the graphic, arguably tasteless violence. I felt the trailer, in the end, fell flat, largely because the tagline, “A Different Kind of Hero,” didn’t really convey how Toxie (or the movie for that matter) was indeed different. It was boring. It was plain.

“Well,” said Lloyd, “What tagline would you use instead?”

I thought about it a moment and asked a question. I had done my homework and read up on the film. I knew that much of it was filmed across the Hudson River from Manhattan and that the locale had been worked into the story as Toxie’s home. Like any good New Yorker, I also knew the various slurs and aspersions we’d lovingly cast at our Garden State neighbor. So, thinking fast I responded, “The Toxic Avenger is from Jersey City, right?”

“Uh, yeah,” said Lloyd.

“So,” I continued. “I’d use the tagline “The First Superhero…from New Jersey!’—something that is an immediate wink to the audience, letting them know that there’s a hint of comedy here too.”

Lloyd paused a moment in deep thought. Then he repeated my suggestion aloud, quietly, like a freshly assigned mantra. “The First Superhero from New Jersey…That’s great. Can we use it?”

“Sure,” I said.

The trailer was changed. The posters too. And like that Toxie became the first superhero from New Jersey.

And that was the first of the many things I would end up writing for Troma.

 

The lesson here, of course, and one I have used again and again since is to share your ideas. Don’t be afraid to give someone a good idea or help them without expecting anything from it. Holding back your ideas because they are precious or valuable or because you are afraid someone will steal them, is just a way to hold yourself back. This is especially true when you are trying to get a job or a new client. Give them a tangible taste of what you are really capable of. Give them a sampling of your valuable ideas that they can use and benefit from whether they hire you or not. More often than not, if your ideas are good, you will get hired or get the client. If you allow your best ideas to be turned into secrets, you may never get to see your ideas put to use.

There’s also a great lesson here from Lloyd’s behavior. He listened! Even though it was probably he who came up with the original tagline, “A Different Kind of Hero,” Lloyd was open to change and to new ideas, regardless of where they came from. Who was this Sass guy, anyway? He had just met me for the first time. I had no track record to speak of, and yet when Lloyd heard a good idea, a better choice, he was ready and willing to discard what he had already done and make a change that he perceived to be for the better. And it cost money to change the trailer and the posters and flyers. But it was the right move.

How open are you to accepting suggestions and new ideas?

•••

That’s Chapter 4 – Another short and sweet one (are you seeing a pattern here? This book is an easy, enjoyable read!) Stay tuned for “Chapter 5: Working FREE-lance” and the story of how Troma became my full-time employer… 

The book in previous posts:

Foreword, by Lloyd Kaufman
Introduction: Lights, Camera, Action!
Chapter 1: Welcome to Tromaville!
Chapter 2: The Troma Building
Chapter 3: Meet the Moguls

 

Chapter 3: Meet the Moguls

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 3 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book as well as Chapter 1 and 2. You can also see me read this chapter live, along with Lloyd and Toxie, at Florida Supercon. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

 

Chapter 3: Meet the Moguls

There were three stories above the street-level storefront and countless stories within those three stories. On the first floor (actually the second floor of the building, but the first floor of the Troma offices), after climbing the narrow stairs, one entered the main office landing. To use the word “reception” area would be disingenuous, as visitors were not received as much as they were ignored, and once noticed, most likely put to work.

Two uncomfortable and mismatched office chairs were against the wall to your left. Before you was a beat-up desk, most likely occupied by a heavily tattooed and pierced young person of indiscriminate gender who had been “working” for Troma anywhere from two hours to two days. If they had survived for longer than two days, they would no longer be assigned to the front desk but would probably have been reassigned to head up theatrical sales, or edit trailers on one of the flatbeds on the fourth floor, or given some other critically important task they were grossly ill prepared and underqualified for.

Eventually, some screaming and yelling would emanate from behind the smoke-glass walls of the office diagonally opposite the “reception” desk. The yelling was often followed by the slamming of phone receivers (the old, heavy plastic kind, with cords and such) and perhaps the sound of books, magazines, and film cans being tossed across the room and into the walls. If you were lucky, the screaming and yelling would get the attention of the heavily tattooed and pierced young person of indiscriminate gender who would finally notice your presence. “Oh,” he/she/ it would say. “May I help you?”

“I am here to see Lloyd and Michael.”

And before he/she/it could respond further, Lloyd himself would come bursting out of the office, screaming like a banshee, “What is it? Asshole time?” Blasting past you as if you were the invisible man himself, Lloyd would light into the reception person as a lion attacks its prey, tearing them apart, psychological limb by psychological limb, until they either quit, broke down in tears, or simply accepted their fate and moved on to the next outrageous task Lloyd would assign to them.

And then his attention would drift to his unannounced guest, and zap! Kaufman transforms into the charming, almost delightful, intelligent, and affable Yale graduate (albeit a slightly scruffy one) you may have imagined.

“Come in, come in.”

Their office was a cluttered and messy room, large enough for two desks facing each other, with a sizable chasm between, Michael to the left and Lloyd to the right. Set up for an intentional daily literal face-off, staring at each other with no privacy. By design, they could overhear each other’s every phone call, and chime in from across the room. By design, they could argue over the smallest minutiae and yell and scream at each other with freedom and abandon whenever their muse manifest itself. It was manufactured mayhem. And, for them, it worked.

I sat in the aisle between them, shifting back and forth to face the speaker of the moment. It was funny. It was fun. We sort of all got along. I explained about Satori and asked about their video and TV syndication plans. They ignored me and asked if I’d like the tour of the Troma Building. Of course, I would. And up the stairs we went, starting at the top—the editing rooms.

The fourth floor of the Troma Building was arguably where the magic happened.

•••

That’s Chapter 3 – Another short and sweet one. Stay tuned for “Chapter 4: Trailer Trash” and the story of how I came up with the now classic tag-line, “The First Superhero from New Jersey.”

The book in previous posts:

Foreword, by Lloyd Kaufman
Introduction: Lights, Camera, Action!
Chapter 1: Welcome to Tromaville!
Chapter 2: The Troma Building

 


Chapter 2: The Troma Building

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 2 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book as well as Chapter 1. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

 

Chapter 2: The Troma Building

In the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. Ninth Avenue and Forty-Ninth Street to be precise. A four-story walk-up brownstone that Lloyd and Michael had wisely purchased with the profits from one of their early hits, most likely the light T-and-A comedies Waitress and Squeeze Play. The north side of the brick-faced Troma Building was exposed, unadulterated, and clearly visible to all traffic heading downtown on Ninth Avenue. It was adorned with a giant-sized version of the one-sheet (movie parlance for a poster) of The Toxic Avenger movie and the greeting, “Welcome to Tromaville.” Yes, as countless buses, cars, and taxis voyaged down Ninth Avenue into the famous Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, they were greeted not by graffiti but by the infamous hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength. A truly supersized Toxie, complete with a mop the size of a schoolyard flagpole. Heading south on Ninth Avenue, there was no question you had arrived in Tromaville.

That small investment in Manhattan real estate was one of the many business and marketing strokes of genius executed by Lloyd and Michael and it, quite literally, put Troma on the map (at least on the map of the West Side of New York City). Think about it: Which other independent film studio could afford billboard advertising in midtown Manhattan, albeit the somewhat seedier side of said midtown? Still, it was great exposure, and it was free.

Speaking of free, the ground floor of the Troma Building had a retail space that was rented out to a variety of tenants over the years. The building was bought for cash and had no mortgage, so as long as the rent from the retail tenant covered the cost of insurance and real-estate taxes, Troma’s film business could occupy the rest of the building essentially rent-free. This low overhead advantage probably kept the company alive during the many lean times. And there were many lean times.

•••

That’s Chapter 2 – Another short and sweet one. Stay tuned for “Chapter 3: Meet the Moguls” and my first in-person encounter with Troma founders Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz…

The book in previous posts:

Foreword, by Lloyd Kaufman
Introduction: Lights, Camera, Action!
Chapter 1: Welcome to Tromaville!

Chapter 1: Welcome to Tromaville

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 1 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

 

Chapter 1: Welcome to Tromaville

New York, just like I pictured it. Actually, it was New York, just as I always knew it, having grown up in Forest Hills, Queens, and acclimated at a young age to the Q60 bus to Manhattan and the E, F, G, N, and RR subway lines into “the City.” Tromaville, on the other hand, was less familiar.

I was working for a relatively unknown TV-and-film-distribution company, Satori Entertainment, my first job out of college, when I first heard about “the Troma Guys.” Satori, an interesting story in and of itself, was run by the late Ernie Sauer, in many ways a TV pioneer and visionary, who, among other things, started the first satellite-distributed radio service long before the likes of Sirius and XM Radio were a twinkle in their founders’ eyes.

During my tenure at Satori, in the early ’80s, the company achieved some notoriety as a leading importer of “English-language foreign films”— in other words, films from Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain. We would obtain the North American rights to these films and license them to the burgeoning pay-TV market, including the early days of HBO and Showtime, and a small network of over-the-air STV (Subscription Television) services that were cropping up in a handful of markets around the country—all precursors to the cable-TV and home-video explosions that were on the cusp of arriving. We had a few early successes, like Dot and the Kangaroo, an Australian live-action and animated children’s film, and Bruce Beresford’s Don’s Party as well as the early Mel Gibson film Tim, with Mel and Piper Laurie. In a few cases, we dabbled in releasing some of our imports in theaters, and for a while, we played host to an Australian Film Festival at the old D. W. Griffith Theater on East Fifty-Ninth Street.

Then the home-video revolution arrived, and our growing catalog of films found new value on VHS. Dot and the Kangaroo was licensed to Andre Blay’s Magnetic Home Video, which eventually became Fox Home Video, and a new, lucrative market emerged. Along the way, we went public, and after Satori’s IPO, we realized that it made sense to acquire more films and grow our library as our distribution channels into the developing pay- TV and home-video markets continued to expand and thrive. It was with such acquisitions in mind that I decided to call on “the Troma Guys,” who, after all, were situated in “the Troma Building,” a mere seven blocks north on Ninth Avenue from Satori headquarters, adjacent to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

I had heard of Troma and the story of Lloyd and Michael’s little film fiefdom. I may even have seen a Troma film or two. But mostly I was aware they had built a nice-sized library of low-budget films they had produced themselves or acquired from others: films I presumed would potentially have value in the growing pay-TV and syndicated-TV marketplace we were supplying. I gave them a call and was invited to come visit them.

•••

That’s Chapter 1 – short and sweet. Stay tuned for “Chapter 2: The Troma Building” and my first journey into the heart of “Hell’s Kitchen.”

The book in previous posts:

Foreword, by Lloyd Kaufman
Introduction: Lights, Camera, Action!

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Introduction: Lights, Camera, Action!


Greetings from Tromaville! Here is the Introduction to my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

INTRODUCTION: Lights, Camera, Action!

There are a lot of similarities between making movies and starting companies. Film producers and directors are as much entrepreneurs as anyone who might create or aspire to create a Silicon Valley start-up. The purpose of this book is to draw valuable lessons in business and marketing from my experiences making movies—not in Hollywood, mind you, but rather in Tromaville. Since my filmmaking days, I’ve been a start-up cofounder, COO, CEO, and currently a CMO, and I don’t think I ever could have survived the C-suite if I hadn’t had the experience of making B-movies.

•••

Early in my career, I spent seven and a half years working for Troma, the low-budget film studio probably best known for the cult-classic action/horror film The Toxic Avenger. As I am sure you must know, The Toxic Avenger is the heartwarming story of Melvin Junko, a lowly mop boy who, teased and taunted, falls into a vat of radioactive waste and emerges as…the Toxic Avenger—the First Superhero from New Jersey!

As a movie, The Toxic Avenger was sloppy, gory, cheesy, tasteless, and perhaps even unsavory. But as a character, the Toxic Avenger (now affectionately known as “Toxie”) was remarkably endearing, especially for a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength. In his 1986 review of the film, Stephen Holden of the New York Times said The Toxic Avenger “may be trash, but it has a maniacally farcical sense of humor, and Tromaville’s evildoers are dispatched in ingenious ways.”

The oft-warped brainchild of two Yale graduates, Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, Troma has indeed been ingenious in creating a world outside the Hollywood norm, their own Tromaville, where the filmmakers are beholden to no force other than their own off-kilter creative muse. The proof of their ingenuity? Today Troma Entertainment still lives on, over forty years old and arguably the world’s oldest independent film studio. That monstrous creature Toxie? He’s gone on to survive three sequels and a Saturday-morning cartoon spin-off, along with the requisite comic books, toys, games, and apparel. A rumored “big studio” remake even threatened to star Arnold Schwarzenegger as Toxie.

The Troma Team is notorious for giving young, inexperienced aspiring filmmakers a chance to work, often way over their heads and always way under their expected minimum wage. But the experience, as they say, is priceless. It was for me. And as I hope this book will expose, my lessons from Tromaville extended far beyond my celluloid dreams. While many former Tromites went on to impressive (and more traditional) Hollywood careers (including the likes of actor Kevin Costner and director James Gunn), my own post-Tromatic career led me down the path of a marketer and tech entrepreneur. I think I am pretty good at what I do. I’ve had many great experiences in the business world since I emigrated from Tromaville in 1994. But if I am truly honest with myself, I must admit that I couldn’t have done it without Toxie.

Making movies is hard work, especially making movies on a shoestring budget. Actually, we couldn’t even afford shoestrings—we had Velcro budgets! But I learned a lot: how to mix theatrical blood, how to make a ripe cantaloupe substitute for a head being crushed…but making movies also taught me a lot about business and entrepreneurship.

In truth, a film production is like a start-up on steroids. You go from screenplay (business plan) to product completion in a matter of months. You have to hire, fire, build up, tear down, raise money, spend money, rally the troops, fight deadlines and external forces, and make constant compromises, all the while fighting to stay the course and make the best film (i.e., product) you can. Teamwork and camaraderie, on and off the set, make a big difference (culture), and in the end, success or failure comes from ultimately finding an audience (satisfied customers).

Nobody sets out to make a bad film, just like nobody starts a company with the intention of failing.

•••

That’s the book’s introduction. Hope you enjoyed it. Next, “Chapter 1: Welcome to Tromaville.”

 

Foreword by Lloyd Kaufman, Troma Cofounder

When I wrote my first book, the Tromatic tome All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from The Toxic Avenger: The Shocking True Story of Troma Studios, on page 210 I wrote that Jeff Sass was “probably the best Troma employee ever…” Well, of course, that couldn’t possibly still be true. After all, when Jeff decided to leave Troma to pursue a real career, we replaced him with a kid named James Gunn. Now, James actually helped me write All I Need to Know about Filmmaking…and James has gone on to become one of the most talented and commercial directors living today (yeah, that Guardians of the Galaxy James Gunn), and he still talks to me. So, clearly, James Gunn was the best Troma employee ever.

That said, Sass was all right, even though he refused to sleep with me.

A fellow Ivy League graduate with an actual reputation and work experience when we hired him, Jeff Sass was the exception to our typical Troma Team employee, but we gave him a chance, and miraculously he not only survived but thrived during his seven-year stint on the dark side. He created the world-famous slogan “The First Super Hero from New Jersey.” You’ll read about that in chapter 4.

During Jeff’s tenure, and with his inspiration and input, we experienced some of the golden years of Troma, becoming Troma Entertainment. Jeff was instrumental in turning Toxie, an R-Rated movie featuring a child getting his head squashed by the wheel of an automobile, into a delightful, highly rated, environmentally correct cartoon for kiddies on Fox TV Saturday morning. He also launched a huge licensing and merchandising division. We advanced into the computer age under Jeff’s geek guidance and made some of our most ambitious, and now-classic, films with Jeff on the producing line, including Troma’s War and Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD. While Jeff’s former stature in the film industry dwindled, Troma’s star rose, and Troma’s rose bloomed thanks in large part to Jeff Sass’s many talents and contributions.

As for this book, while Jeff may no longer be Troma’s best employee ever, he may have written the best book on Troma ever. And more important, he has managed to turn his experiences in Tromaville into a veritable MBA course for anyone interested in entrepreneurship, business, and marketing. Dear reader, you hold in your hand an extremely entertaining and funny look behind the scenes and under Kabukiman’s kimono, but within Sass’s Troma tales are real, very meaningful lessons of business value for everyone, including me! And 2017 marks my fiftieth year of making movies nobody sees.

Now, about that James Gunn guy…

Lloyd Kaufman

Cofounder, Troma

Next: “Introduction: Lights, Camera, Action!