Inside the Sh*tstorm: Visiting the set of Lloyd Kaufman’s newest Troma film


Our Lorry Kikta visits the first rehearsal for Lloyd Kaufman’s latest (and maybe last?) directorial effort for Troma Entertainment: Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm.

On the Sunday before last, I set out towards a Ridgewood, Queens art gallery to visit the initial rehearsal for Troma Entertainment’s latest production, Shakespeare’s Sh*tstormI worked at Troma for a brief moment back in 2008 and hadn’t seen Lloyd Kaufman, founder of Troma Entertainment and creator of The Toxic Avenger, since then. I had seen some evidence of the production, thanks to Kaufman’s prolific use of Instagram, and I’m glad to say that Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm is gearing up to be one hell of a “Tempest”.

Troma had great success with Kaufman’s original Shakespeare adaptation Tromeo & Juliet, written by James Gunn. I’m glad that now Tromeo is old enough to drink (original release was in 1996), Lloyd and his Troma Team have decided to revisit the Bard for more bawdy fun with a modern twist on The Tempest . Another exciting aspect of this production is that it’s the first Troma film to be shot in New York City proper since 1999’s Terror Fimer.

Additionally, after speaking with producer Justin Martell, co-founder of Pioneer Media, a new company which specializes in production services throughout Eastern Europe and Asia, I discovered that a lot of the boat scenes which were originally intended to be shot in upstate New York, were shot in Albania for a fraction of the cost.

On the Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm set in Albania

“When I read this script, it was one of Troma’s most ambitious scripts and obviously, having worked on three Troma films, I was familiar with the limitations of a Troma budget so that was the idea behind going to Albania,” Justin Martell told me in the quick moments we had to speak before rehearsal started, “We had a really great film crew and the cooperation of the Albanian Naval forces, we did some really cool scenes out on the Adriatic Sea”

Troma has a history for working well within the financial limitations that come when a company is unwilling to compromise their art. The way that Troma has not only survived, but thrived for over 40 years is an awesome miracle that has inspired millions of other independent (and mainstream) filmmakers.

Anyone who has worked with Troma in any capacity over the span of decades since two Yale graduates, Lloyd Kaufman & Michael Herz, decided to make their own damn movies, can attest to the extremely hard work ethic and total embrace of chaos that comes along with all of their productions. Troma is a starting place for many talented professionals within the film industry who decided that the snail’s pace it usually takes to get anywhere in said industry was not for them. I can personally attest that I have been given several PA and other film set jobs simply because the employer saw Troma Entertainment on the resume.

Despite not having the huge budgets of Hollywood productions, Troma Entertainment, and Lloyd specifically, has a set of rigid standards for how things will be done. Lloyd will not direct anything that isn’t shot on 35mm. In the day of all sorts of crazy new camera tech, Lloyd is nothing if not a traditionalist in that sense.

Which to me is an admirable quality in filmmakers that shouldn’t go the way of the zoetrope just for the sake of convenience. Lloyd also has rehearsals for his films! No matter how normal that may sound to an outsider, a lot of films, including films with gigantic budgets, will skimp on rehearsals or have none at all for the sake of time and money.

“It’s a luxury to be able to rehearse on location” Lloyd told me in between takes of this shooting rehearsal. I talked to him about shooting in Albania and also how lucky they were to have the opportunity to rehearse and use 35mm and he said “We’re making a $50 million dollar movie on a $300,000 budget”. I don’t think people understand how impressive this is.

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Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm is “maybe” the last movie that Lloyd will ever direct. I for one hope this isn’t true, but if it is, he’s going out with a bang. Lloyd stars in the film as Prospero, which is a perfect and hilarious role for him. The film also stars Amanda Flowers as Prospero’s assistant Ariel, Kate McGarrigle as Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, and a whole slew of others that I have yet to meet. The dialogue is vintage Troma, and I was more than happy to see Lloyd improvise many hilarious lines that probably aren’t “family friendly” so I will leave them to your imagination.

Doug Sakman, who worked at Troma almost 20 years ago, in addition to working on Return to Return of Nuke Em High AKA Vol. 2 is back doing special effects for Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm. Producers Justin Martell and John Brennan are back from the newest Nuke ‘Em High films as well. “We love Lloyd, it’s a matter of honor,”says Martell, who started at Troma 9 years ago as Lloyd’s personal assistant.  People tend to always come back to Troma, including myself, because it’s one of the most invigorating, challenging, yet collaborative and supportive artistic environments.

Lloyd’s wife and former film commissioner for New York, Patricia Kaufman, is also a producer, and since retiring as commissioner, is more hands-on with this film, which can only make it even better than it already would’ve been. Michael Herz, the unsung (and very often unseen) hero of Troma, who is seriously a business mastermind, will be one of the executive producers. Brandon Bassham wrote the script based on a story by Lloyd Kaufman and Poultrygeist  screenwriter Gabe Friedman and obviously…..William Shakespeare.

The film is looking to be one of Troma’s best. Doing what they do best, which is bring the masses spot-on social commentary amidst tons of gore and absurdist humor. I’m looking forward to visiting the set as the film progresses, and will be reporting back as much as I can without spoiling the fun for its release. Reporting live from Tromaville, this has been Lorry Kikta.

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Fan of Troma? Looking forward to Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm? Let the other movie maniacs know what you think in the comment section below.