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In Yale's Class of '68, two men who would make a profound impact on 21st century America began their rise to power: George W. Bush and Lloyd Kaufman. One became a role model, a bold and decisive leader, an inspiration to subsequent generations. The other became president.
caught up yesterday with Kaufman
--co-founder of Troma Films, co-creator of The Toxic Avenger
, and author of the new book Direct Your Own Damn Movie!
--on the eve of his trip to Nashville. Not only is he a featured guest at this weekend's Full Moon Tattoo & Horror Festival
, he'll be signing copies of Direct Your Own Damn Movie!
4 p.m. Sunday at the West End Borders.
He's also filming cameos in at least two local films: the latest installment in Glen Weiss' ongoing Thong Girl saga
, and a film by Nathan Fisher of the Murfreesboro punk band Doctor Gonzo. Those join some 18 acting credits Kaufman has this year alone, including a walk-on in Crank: High Voltage
--where he gets to deliver the catchphrase that's sweeping the nation: "Better call 911."
"I do a lot of acting for young, independent filmmakers," Kaufman said by phone from Los Angeles. "If I agree to be in their movie, it gives them some credibility." Plus he gets to film behind-the-scenes footage for his own projects, such as the forthcoming DVD counterpart to Direct Your Own Damn Movie!
The book promises "92 percent" of everything you need to know about directing, with 8 percent set aside as the foundation for his next book. "You won't believe the return you'll get on that 8 percent," Kaufman says. "It'll be like the investment in The Producers
Asked what his role is in the Thong Girl movie, Kaufman responds forthrightly: "I don't know." A bad phone connection garbles a story about a recent encounter with President Bush, and our conversation is over before we find out if the president actually sent a 2-disc DVD special edition of Kaufman's Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead
to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
He concludes by brushing off a question about a credit from his early career: Louis Malle's 1981 arthouse gabfest My Dinner with Andre
, on which he served as production manager. It's due in an upcoming Criterion DVD special edition, and we asked if he would be featured on a commentary track. His voice drops to a hoarse whisper.
"I was hoping you wouldn't bring that up--I'm a little ashamed of My Dinner with Andre
," Kaufman says. "It's what you call...a good film
He says he must rush off to a meeting, exchanges pleasantries, and hangs up. Some 30 seconds later, the phone rings.
"If you find out what I'm doing in Thong Girl," Kaufman says on the other end of the line, "let me know."