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Get Ready for a Super Time at Florida Supercon!

 

It’s Supercon time! On July 12-15, 2018 Supercon returns to the Broward County Convention Center, which is literally in my backyard, just a few minutes from my home. So how could I not take advantage of this great opportunity to promote my book to avid pop-culture fans!

I’ll be selling and signing books at Booth 735 all four days of the show. Also, on Saturday, July 14th at 1:00 pm I’ll be giving a presentation in Room 304 sharing some of the business and marketing lessons I learned working for Troma that have helped guide my career from B-movies to the C-suite!

During Jeff Sass’ 7-year tenure in Tromaville he worked on classics including TROMA’S WAR, TOXIC AVENGER II & III, CLASS OF NUKE’EM HIGH II & III, he co-wrote SGT. KABUKIMAN, NYPD and he was instrumental in the creation and launch of THE TOXIC CRUSADERS cartoon series and merchandise. In this entertaining and educational talk, Jeff shares the lessons he learned making Troma movies that have helped him throughout his career as a tech entrepreneur and CMO – lessons that you too can apply to your career. Fun Fact: When Jeff left Troma in 1994, they hired James Gunn to replace him…

(By, the way, I offer a customized version of this presentation as a free webinar for businesses that purchase 12 or more copies of the book  – contact me for more information).

If you are in South Florida and love movies, comics, cosplay and pop-culture you should definitely make your way to Supercon. It is an awesome event, with costumes, celebrities, tons of great products and merchandise, and great content sessions every day. Organizers Mike Broder and Sandy Martin and their team run an amazing show!

And if you do attend, please be sure to stop by Booth 735 and say hello!

 

 

Chapter 18: Playing By The Rules

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 18 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. In this chapter, we take a look at the importance of having some basic rules as a way of aligning your team. 

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 12345 and 67 ,89101112131415, 16 and 17. 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 18: Playing By The Rules

By now you may be thinking that things were fairly loosey-goosey in Tromaville, with inexperienced young lads and lasses running wild and wreaking havoc. You would be mostly correct. In truth, while there were certainly some wild and crazy times (and even more wild and crazy characters and personalities), much of the working of the Troma machine was actually quite well-oiled. There were processes and procedures, and there were rules. In particular, there were the “Rules of Production.”

On every Troma movie set, in numerous, highly visible locations, the following sign was always posted:

Rules of Production:

1. Safety to people
2. Safety to property
3. Make a good film!

This was key. This was important. These were the rules Troma lived by on set, and at any given moment, Lloyd could walk up to a member of the cast or crew and quiz them on these three simple rules, and they had better know them. When it came to setiquette (etiquette on the set), the Troma Team was very clear on their priorities. A film set can be a dangerous place. There are lights, there are cameras, and there is action—big heavy things that can fall on people, miles of cables and electrical cords strewn about, vehicles, explosives, and lots of people around. A lot can go wrong. A lot does go wrong. It is a tribute to the dedication to these three “rules of production” that in over forty years and dozens of productions, Troma has a solid record and reputation when it comes to safety.

Safety to people is the number one priority. Safety to property is second. We were grateful for the fair deals we received on the equipment we borrowed or rented. We were forever grateful for the folks who generously let us use their homes and businesses as sets and locations for filming. The least we could do was to respect their property and do all we could to leave it in the same condition it was in when we arrived (which, frankly, was often no small task).

Finally, the third rule was to “make a good film” and in practice, if you paid attention to the first two rules, you were far more likely to succeed on the third.

These were good lessons in focus and culture. While a Troma film set consisted of a wild and varied sampling of human existence, a seemingly random collection of delightfully disparate souls, the one thing that they all had to have in common was respect for and adherence to the “Rules of Production.” Anyone who could not live up to these three simple concepts did not belong (and did not last long).

While in some cases, rules can be restrictive, when they are simple, direct, and core to your objective, a few good rules can help bind your team together and help keep things moving forward in a positive way. If it can work for Troma, it can work for you.

What are your business’s “rules of production”?

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Chapter 17: Always Salute the Schwag!

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 17 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. In this chapter, we take a look at the importance of always carrying… not weapon, but rather, marketing materials – SCHWAG! What do you think?

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 12345 and 67 ,89101112131415 and 16. 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 17: Always Salute the Schwag!

“I pledge allegiance to the schwag…of the United States of Tromaville.” As part of the Troma Team, I quickly learned the power of “schwag” and the importance of always “carrying.” In this instance carrying did not mean a concealed weapon, although one could argue that good schwag is an excellent sales and marketing weapon. In Tromaville carrying meant you were always equipped with a supply of stuff—stickers, flyers, T-shirts—schwag. Your briefcase was full of the stuff. If you owned a car, your trunk was full of the stuff. If you carried a purse or murse*, your purse or murse was full of the stuff. While representing the Troma Team, you never walked into a meeting empty-handed. You always had your schwag at the ready. Schwag sells.

There’s a reason printed paper flyers were called “sell sheets” in the movie business. They were also called “slicks,” perhaps because the slicker they were, the better they sold. For every movie in the Troma library, having a great key art image that became the basis of the poster, and then the smaller sell sheets was essential. As essential as having a good trailer. Arguably far more essential than having a good movie. Back in the day, especially in the realm of international film distribution, the sale (technically, the licensing) of a film for distribution to a small foreign market was often concluded based on the sell sheet and trailer alone, many times long before the film in question had actually been completed (or in some cases, even started). We were selling the dream. Selling the outcome. And schwag helped.

Like trusty Boy and Girl Scouts, always carrying schwag meant you were always prepared. You never knew when you’d have the opportunity to leave behind that flyer for Curse of the Cannibal Confederates or that gorgeous green “I love Toxie” sticker. And then there were the T-shirts. Especially the T-shirts. We would print bright-red (and sometimes yellow) “I made the Troma Team” T-shirts by the hundreds. They were inexpensive thin cotton tees with a big Troma logo on them, and people loved them. When it came to production time, our “I-Made-the-Troma-Team” tees were like a liquid currency. They were our beads, our wampum, our bitcoin, and often our savior. It is amazing what regular unassuming humans will do or give up in exchange for a free T-shirt.

When scouting for locations, popping open the car trunk and tossing a couple of T-shirts to the owner of the property you are begging to trample and defame was often the tipping point that sealed the deal. When casting dozens of background actors (we never had extras…always “background actors”) to fill a scene, hordes of fans would stand for long grueling days, all for a stale bagel at seven in the morning and a Troma T-shirt when they left at the end of the day, often past midnight.

When making a movie, especially a low-budget independent movie, there are 1,000 things that can go wrong at any moment. Giving someone a free T-shirt can solve 937 of them.

As proof that the Troma Team always carries (schwag) wherever they go, I will share a story that Hertz. Not Herz as in Michael Herz, Lloyd’s partner in cinematic crime and Troma co-founder, but rather Hertz as in the car rental company that doesn’t quite try as hard as Avis. Many years after I emigrated from Tromaville, I was in Los Angeles on business, and I rented a car there. At one point while navigating my way through the torturous traffic that is synonymous with driving in LA, I stopped short at a light, my unpracticed foot a bit heavy on the brakes of the unfamiliar vehicle. As I screeched to a sudden stop, a sudden mess of papers and folders slid out from under the driver’s seat. I looked down, and lo and behold, my feet were surrounded by Troma schwag—flyers, stickers, press kits, and the like. It was literally a blast from the past.

I laughed, and at the first opportunity, I called Lloyd asking him if he had recently been in LA. “I just got back last night,” he replied. “How did you know?”

“Did you rent a car there?” I queried.

“Of course, I did; it’s LA,” said Lloyd. (This was years ago, before the invasion of Uber).

“Well, I think I rented the same car you were driving. You left your schwag under the front seat!”

Yep. He did. Schwag rules.

*A “murse” is a man-purse, carried by a man, just as a “manzier” is a brazier worn by a man. Watch Seinfeld reruns for more details.

Chapter 16: Repurpose, On Purpose

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 16 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. In this chapter, we take a look at Troma’s take on “content marketing.” What do you think?

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 12345 and 67 ,891011121314 and 15. 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 16: Repurpose, On Purpose

As stunts go, we did some amazing ones at Troma, and the best of them, like the dramatic (and now infamous) “car flip” have been used and reused in countless Troma movies. Shot one quiet afternoon on the back streets of Hoboken, New Jersey, while costly and complicated to shoot, the “car flip” has perhaps become the most cost-effective bit of film ever shot by the Troma Team (when amortized across the vast number of subsequent films the same sequence has appeared in). Why not? It’s a great stunt, even the seventeenth time you see it. Like a fine wine, it gets fermented—er, I mean better—with age. Like the pestering of a wild and crazy two-year-old toddler, with repetition, it becomes less annoying and cuter. Like a pimple that, after it won’t go away for nine months, reinvents itself as a beauty mark. You get the idea.

Of course, in the case of Troma, given the cult and culture of the rabid fan base, repurposing a stunt or scene across multiple movies turns into a welcome wink to the knowing film fan who can spot the repeated spot. So not only does the cloned scene save time and money, it becomes an Easter egg that delights eagle-eyed fans who are paying close attention—a double whammy win for the Troma Team.

What content can you wisely repurpose for your purposes? Do you have anything that can double as an Easter egg to charm your customers?

•••

Chapter 15: If You Don’t Want to Swallow a Frog, Start with a Stunt

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 15 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. In this chapter, I talk about the team building benefits of “doing the hard stuff first…” What do you think?

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 12345 and 67 ,89101112, 13 and 14. 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 15: If You Don’t Want to Swallow a Frog, Start with a Stunt

There’s a popular productivity quote that is often attributed to Mark Twain about swallowing a live frog every morning. If you can get past that rather grotesque task, then anything else the day may bring on should seem infinitely more manageable. The fate of the poor frog aside, the concept is one we embraced when making movies in Tromaville, and it is a sound practice for any business. Start with the hard stuff.

When making a movie, especially a low-budget action/horror flick, the hard stuff is typically anything involving stunts or special effects. Those are the days that cost more money, often take more time, and ultimately have more at stake because it is harder to “fix it in editing” should the planned stunt go awry on film. These were the pre-CGI(1) days, and things like explosions and crazy car stunts were all done “live” on film for the most part. When we blew up a building, there were real explosives, fire, and debris. Cameras were set behind protective plexiglass shields, and crew and actors were reduced to the bare minimum possible and kept as far away from potential harm as possible. Fun stuff. Exciting stuff. Dangerous stuff. So why not do it on the very first day of filming, before anyone is comfortable working with each other?

Swallow the frog.

Exactly.

Do some really super hard shit right at the beginning to get everyone focused (and maybe a little nervous), but in truth, there’s no better way to quickly bond a group of disparate people than to have them accomplish a really hard, potentially dangerous, task together. Focus is required. Teamwork is required. It is going from zero to sixty in the first few hours of working together. It forces the cream to rise to the top and quickly exposes the weak links in the chain. (There were always fewer people on the crew on day two than there were on day one.) It is risky, but it is also rewarding. And when it works (actually more often than not), it sets the tone for the rest of the production, with everyone diving in with a level of confidence and camaraderie that otherwise might have taken weeks to develop.

So, pretty much every Troma production I worked on started with a bang—literally and figuratively.

Are you pulling a team together for a project? Try scheduling the equivalent of your explosion or stunt right up front. Put the team to the test. Swallow the frog. (Then spit it out so the Troma Team can use it as a prop in that tender love scene that requires a regurgitated amphibian.)

•••

1. “CGI” referring to computer-generated imagery—that is, the technology behind digital effects. The only “digital” effects available to Troma at the time were effects involving fingers and toes.

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Chapter 13: Embrace your Vision and Culture

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 13 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. In this chapter, I talk about the “c” word – culture, and how Troma taught me what’s really important to pull a team together (hint: it’s not pizza and beer on Fridays). What do you think?

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 12345 and 67 , 891011 and 12. 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 13: Embrace your Vision and Culture

“To thine own self—be true.”

—WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, HAMLET

“I don’t make crappy movies. I spend two or three years making a film. I don’t take myself seriously, but I take my movies very seriously.”

—LLOYD KAUFMAN, TROMAVILLE

Willie and Lloyd are both sort of saying the same thing here. Know who you are and embrace it. Self-awareness is as important for a company as it is for each of us as an individual. There is so much talk in the business world today about culture. There are countless books, countless consultants, and countless dollars spent on “culture building” within corporations.

Often these efforts miss the core of what culture really is, what culture really means. Contrary to popular belief, culture is not about pizza and beer on Fridays, or unlimited free snacks in the company dining room (though on a film set of any size or budget, heaven help you if you don’t have a functional craft-services department. The fastest way to throw any film production off course is to fail to feed the crew, and feed them well and often). At its core, culture has more to do with your brand than your office decor.

A great company culture enables and encourages employees to embody and reflect the essence of the brand in their ethic, attitude, and execution of their work. It goes deeper than office environment and is more significant than a list of core values on a whiteboard. A great company culture is one where everyone organically lives and breathes the same brand. A great culture is one where all employees understand and appreciate the DNA of the brand. They don’t have to be it, but they have to believe it.

A great company culture is not a cult (though some of the highly publicized “great-culture” enterprises seem to have lost that distinction) because in a cult the disciples are most often following blindly while in a great company culture the employees are following with purpose. A great culture is created by a shared purpose that will move the company forward toward success.

Defining and communicating that purpose is core to a company’s success. On a film set, the purpose is most often very clear. We are making a movie. The roadmap is the script, literally. The strategy is the production schedule. If the director is a good CEO, then everyone on set knows their role and expected contribution toward the execution of the plan and the fulfillment of the purpose.

In business, the purpose and strategy also need to be clearly defined, and as important, the role each employee plays has to be understood by the employee(s) and management. There needs to be a screenplay and a production schedule for your business.

•••

That’s Chapter 13  –  Another valuable lesson I learned making Troma movies: Having a clearly defined purpose and strategy is the best way to create a great company culture! Stay tuned for “Chapter 14: “Strategic Partners: Burn Houses, Not Bridges,” which explores some “hot” lessons about business development learned from location scouting for Troma films.

 

Chapter 12: Sink or Swim!

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 12 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. In this chapter, I talk the many opportunites Troma affords to aspiring filmmakers and the benefits of giving people a chance to do something they have never done before… What do you think?

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 12345 and 67 , 8910 and 11. 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 12: Sink or Swim!

The only source of knowledge is experience.

—ALBERT EINSTEIN

And thus, Tromaville has perhaps been the greatest film school ever. Literally, no application process or qualifications required. No tuition. Virtually every student is a scholarship case. Show up eager and ready, and you are likely to be put to work. Present even a modicum of initiative, and you are likely to be given a chance to operate at a level you have no reasonable qualifications for, and in 90 percent of the time, no chance of actually being any good at it or succeeding. More than likely you’ll quit, sobbing and broken, and never set foot on a movie set again, let alone say anything remotely kind about your personal experience in Tromaville.

But, if you’re in that 10 percent who make it, who actually rise to the occasion, set the bullshit aside, and get the job done, your stint in Tromaville will be the best experience you could ever have, and you will learn career-inspiring and career-changing lessons. It’s film school on steroids. It’s sink or swim.

Never underestimate the power of just doing it. There’s a reason the famed Nike slogan has endured all these years. “Just do it” is often the best way to grow and learn (and it sounds a hell of a lot better than “sink or swim”). But, in Tromaville, where madness and opportunity abound, anyone at any time may be given the opportunity to step up to walk the plank, dive into the unknown, and truly sink or swim. Never directed a second unit? Now’s your chance. Never designed and sewn a wardrobe from scratch? Now’s your chance. Never written lines of dialogue at 1:00 a.m. that actors would speak in front of the camera at 7:00 a.m.? Now’s your chance. Ever convince the monsignor of a local church to allow you to shoot scenes of violence, drug use, and debauchery inside their lovely chapel? I did (and I had no idea what I was doing…the first time).

Experienced talent costs money. Giving experience to newbies costs nothing. It’s hit or miss, sink or swim. Most will implode and fuck up, but many will do just fine, and some will be amazing, and somehow, everything will get done, and the film will get made.

That’s Troma. Better to be finished than to be perfect.

That’s a lesson, too. The best way to learn is simply to do. Take a chance by doing something you’ve never done before. Give a chance by delegating to someone who has never done it before. Of course, you need to supervise them and make sure the whole project doesn’t implode, but within reason, let them make the noncritical mistakes they can learn from.

•••

That’s Chapter 12  –  Another valuable lesson I learned making Troma movies: The best way to learn is to do!  Stay tuned for “Chapter 13: “Embrace your Vision and Culture” which focuses building a company culture… but not a cult!

 

Chapter 11: Show Up!

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 11 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. In this chapter, I talk about understanding the true “bear necessities” for your business, and how I learned what are ultimately the most important things needed to make a movie. What do you think?

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 12345 and 67 , 89, and 10. 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 11: Show Up!

Question: What do you think is the most important thing when it comes to making a movie? A good script? A talented director? A great DP? (Director of Photography).

Answer: None of the above.

The bottom line is, every day of production you need three things to be able to make a movie, and without these three things, well, basically then you are fucked. Without fail you need the following:

1. A working camera
2. Film (or in this day and age, ample digital storage to record on)
3. Actors and actresses to perform in front of the camera

Without those three things, it doesn’t matter how good the script is or how talented the director is. It doesn’t matter if the DP has won awards, or if the lighting is perfect or if the location is amazing. No camera, no movie. No film, no movie. No performers, no movie. Those are the basics. You must show up every single day with those three things as the bare minimum. But they are more than the bare minimum. They are the bare essentials. Or, as they’d say in Jungle Book, “the bear necessities.”

When I worked on my first Troma movie, the epic masterpiece, Troma’s War, I learned these lessons. I was the associate producer, and one of my first assignments was to “protect the cameras” and make sure all the principal actors and actresses showed up on time. Protect the cameras? WTF? It turned out, once before, while filming an earlier cinematic epic, a rogue group of angry Teamsters stole the Troma camera truck overnight, literally bringing that production to a costly halt.

You see, as a (very) low-budget operation, Troma makes nonunion, independent films and back in the late ’80s, especially when shooting in New York, the powerful Teamsters Union didn’t like that. Even though we always played by the rules and had permits and permissions, often with the kind support of the New York City Mayor’s or New York State Governor’s Film Commissions, the Teamsters would go out of their way to attempt to make our lives miserable and disrupt our production.

Perhaps it was because it was before the dawn of the World Wide Web and free Internet porn, and those lonely Teamster souls had nothing better to do with their time than leave their homes and families on a weekend to come harass the Troma Team. Perhaps that was it, and now with the Web readily available via the mobile device in their sweaty palms, perhaps now they don’t bother the Indy filmmakers as much. Perhaps.

But back then they were nasty, and I was warned. Protect the camera truck. That was my responsibility. The camera truck was a rented U-Haul truck that was custom decked out by our team to house all the rented camera and lighting equipment for the shoot. We may have been low budget, but our largest expense, and thus the most-prized asset, was all the professional (and valuable) 35-mm camera and lighting equipment we rented from the same well-known NYC rental houses that served the “Hollywood” crews when they were in town. Fully loaded with all our essential gear, the camera truck was the first vehicle to arrive on the set every day, and the last vehicle to leave each night after it was carefully packed, every lens, film can, and camera body in its designated, custom-fit place. Where to park the camera truck each night was a critical decision, because, once before, those tricky Teamsters had stolen our truck, rented cameras and all, right out of a locked and guarded NYC parking lot.

I had to protect the camera truck. It was not going to get stolen or disabled on my watch. Fortunately, we filmed most of Troma’s War in Peekskill, NY and at the National Guard training facility, Camp Smith. At the time, I was living in Rockland County, about a twenty-five-minute ride away, through the winding roads of Bear Mountain State Park. So, I would have the camera truck park behind my house every night, hidden from view from the main road. With the fear of Teamsters deeply ingrained in my younger, impressionable mind, I remember the first few nights, waking up at the simplest sound to look out the window and make sure the truck and its precious contents were still there, behind my humble abode.

The basics. Protect the camera (and the film, which was also stored in the truck). Make sure it showed up on set, first thing, every single day. And don’t forget the actors and actresses.

There’s a reason the transportation captain is one of the most important people on a movie crew, and more importantly a reason that captain makes certain that a car and driver was waiting outside the apartment or home of every principal actor before they even were awake, ready to herd those sleepy thespians to the day’s location long before they were actually needed. Despite our low-budget operation, even our talent got picked up by a car and driver every day (granted, on a Troma set it was usually a wide-eyed intern in their own beat-up vehicle, but it was a car and driver nonetheless). We did this not because we wanted to treat them special or like a “star” (although many of them took it that way), but rather because of the basics—no actors, no movie.

Understanding the necessity of the basics was a good lesson. In business, it is very easy to get caught up in the detritus, in the details of the moment, and lose sight of the simple things that are actually far more important.

Exercise: What are your basics, your “bear” necessities? What are the three things you should be doing every day to ensure that you are keeping your business or marketing on track? What are your equivalents of the camera, film, and actors?

•••

That’s Chapter 11  –  Another valuable lesson I learned making Troma movies: No matter what your business is, you need to recognize your “bear nececessites” to keep your business moving forward, and focus on them every day! Stay tuned for “Chapter 12: “Sink or Swim!” which focuses on learning by doing, even if – no, especially if – you’ve never done it before!

 

Chapter 10: Find Something to Believe In

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 10 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. In this chapter, I reveal my true feelings about Troma films, and one of the keys to success in any career. What do you think?

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 12345 and 67 , 8 and 9. 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 10: Find Something to Believe In

The common thread you will hear people say is that you should “pursue your passion” and find a job you are passionate about. The truth is, in my humble opinion, often the opposite. Most people do not find a job or career that exactly matches their deep inner passion. But that doesn’t mean that being passionate about what you do is not important. It is. But you may need to work a bit to find that passion.

If I am honest, despite the fact I worked for Troma for more than seven years and was intimately involved in the writing, producing, marketing, and sales of many of their signature films, I was never actually a hardcore fan of Troma movies. As a moviegoer, I tolerated them. As a creative, I got caught up in the muse of the moment and immersed myself in every production wholeheartedly. I was able to do this for two reasons.

One: I loved the act of making movies. The creative collaboration was infectious. The concentrated energy and intense focus on one common task was exhilarating. Making a movie, especially an independent film, where the lines of responsibility are perhaps more blurred than in a more formal production, is like going to summer camp (and is for around the same amount of time). For roughly eight weeks, you are practically living with a bunch of strangers with a common interest. Together you are in your own little world for this intense, but short, time period, more or less cut off from or at least not focused on, the rest of the world.

I loved summer camp. I loved making movies too.

The second reason I was a great citizen of Tromaville was that I came to truly appreciate our fans. While maybe these films were not necessarily my cup of tea, I could recognize that there were a lot of loyal tea drinkers out there who really, really loved and enjoyed what we were brewing. Troma fans are loyal and dedicated. They are free spirits, free thinkers (and, if they transitioned from fan to employee, mostly free workers). Regardless, their love and appreciation for our movies was, and is, real. The joy and satisfaction I saw in our fans made me proud to be in a position to help bring our films to them. The work we were doing, as campy and sometimes childish as it was, was anticipated and more importantly, appreciated by our fans.

So, I worked for our fans. I made silly movies I didn’t necessarily want to watch myself because I knew there were people out there who did want to watch. I became passionate about our films because I knew our fans were. My passion was real, and it fueled all the hard work I did to keep the Troma dream alive. I could get inside the heads of our fans, and from their perspective, I could see, enjoy, and contribute to the awesomeness that was, and is, Troma.

There’s a great lesson in this for anyone in business. There are going to be times in your career where you are doing something that is not so great, or that you are not particularly fond of. You still need to do it well, and to do it well you need to embrace it. You need to find something about it that you can love. Find some element of the work that you can be honestly and deeply passionate about. There is always something.

I found the fans. I didn’t have to be passionate about the movies themselves as I was passionate about delivering to the fans exactly what they wanted. I wanted to make great Troma movies—the best we could—to satisfy those fans, and I came to love doing so.

It’s like any good relationship. Eventually, you come to love the whole package, even if, in the beginning, it was just certain bits of him or her that you were attracted to.

Find something to believe in. It is the only way to succeed.

•••

That’s Chapter 10  –  Another one of my favorite lessons in the book: no matter what your job is, there is always something you can find to become genuinely passionate about – and that will make all the difference! Stay tuned for “Chapter 11: “Show Up!” which focuses on finding the true things that matter to move your business forward. What are the bare necessities to make your business succeed?

 

“Teeming With Anecdotal Gems Of Guidance Regarding Business And Marketing” – Great Review on Fupping.com

As an author working hard to gain exposure and popularity for my book, REVIEWS are critically important and greatly appreciated – especially when they are positive! I am grateful for all the 5-star reviews the book has received on Amazon.com (please leave one if you’ve read and enjoyed the book).

This week a great review was published on Fupping.com. Not only is the review very positive, but the reviewer, Robert Heaney, had never heard of Troma before, and is not a professional marketer or business person. Still, he found the book, “a thoroughly enjoyable and educational read.

Regardless of whether or not you’re looking for guidance on improving and building up a business, readers will doubtless come out with a wealth of business-related knowledge previously unknown to them (in addition to a lot of Troma trivia).

It was encouraging and rewarding for me to read this review as it reflects my goal for the book – to appeal to both fans of Troma, and folks who have never heard of Troma, and to provide valuable insights and entertainment to all readers. According to this reviewer, I have accomplished that goal. 🙂

You can read the full Fupping.com review here.

If you have read the book and enjoyed it, please leave a review on Amazon. It helps a lot, especially when a book has 100 or more reviews. If you haven’t read the book, please consider buying it, or if you prefer, you can read it for free (over time, chapter by chapter) here and on Medium.