Interview with director & Troma alumni, Liam Regan

It was a genuine unadulterated thrill just a few short weeks ago when I was able to talk with one of my personal movie icons, the king of Troma Entertainment himself, Mr Lloyd Kaufman. I first came across the work of Lloyd back in the late 1980’s when I rented a video (I know, how 20th century of me) with the intriguing title of The Toxic Avenger – and boy, I was blown away.

Yes the film was clearly made on a shoestring budget and yes, the whole thing was an in-your-face movie experience the likes that I had never encountered before…….ever. Ever since that time the work of Lloyd Kaufman and his Troma company, now the longest running independent film studio in the world, has formed a significant part of my cinematic soundtrack.

You can see the 5D conversation with Lloyd at

https://youtu.be/pyNJSKn8CgY  

In a wonderful chat the great man himself talks about all things Troma related, including working with a young English filmmaker who just so happens to be an old friend of 5D.

It was in the dim and distant days of 2013 when news came my eager way of a crowdfunding campaign for a Troma-inspired British feature film, My Bloody Banjo. I was lucky enough not only to help out in a very small way with the promotion of the film but also to be able to get to know the film’s creator, Liam Regan. Having mentioned to Liam my conversation with Lloyd he informed me that a special director’s cut of My Bloody Banjo was in the pipeline and so we decided to sit down and chew the fat about the plans. The interview turned out to be one of the most brutally honest I’ve ever had with in my time with 5D as Liam detailed some of the highs and lows of being a first-time independent filmmaker.

Yes there are those who (and do) dislike intensely this type of movie experience, My Bloody Banjo had me grinning from ear to ear throughout while simultaneously alternating between cringing and staring in disbelief. The person sat watching it next you may well hate it, but that’s their problem.

But before the chat, let me remind/inform you of the plot for what in my opinion turned out to be a genuinely entertaining example of exactly the sort of film that many people such as myself are crying out for

“We meet Peltzer Arbuckle, a meek and bullied office employee, humiliated by his megalomaniac boss, teasing colleagues and his cheating partner. Peltzer spends his days in misery, stuck in his own mundane, nightmarish reality. 

Once news about his embarrassing sexual accident makes it’s way around the workplace, Peltzer decides to put up with his humiliation no more, and conjures up his childhood imaginary friend Ronnie. Peltzer’s world is soon turned upside down, when Ronnie attempts to manipulate him to exact revenge on his tormenting co-workers in the most gruesome fashion.

As the body count stacks up, Peltzer must ultimately decide whether to runaway from his past or take control of his future, as he battles between sanity and madness, in this twisted tale of infidelity, revenge and snapped banjo strings.”

Q) So before we talk about the release of the directors cut of My Bloody Banjo let’s talk about your cinematic inspirations – which filmmakers influenced your early years of film-watching?

I would say watching an ex rental VHS of Toxic Avenger Part II from Blockbuster Video really inspired me to become a creative, I guess I fell in love with the slapstick violence and tongue in cheek humour. 

So I have to thank Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz (Presidents of Troma Entertainment) for really turning me on to independent filmmaking, without those two being influential in my childhood, I don’t think

I would have the desire to make independent movies. Other filmmakers include Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case), Charles Band (Full Moon Entertainment), Trey Parker (Cannibal! The Musical), Jeff Burr (Puppet Master 4), Glen Morgan (Willard) and Adam Marcus (Jason Goes To Hell). 

Q) We both share a love of Lloyd Kaufman’s contributor filmmaking – he speaks very highly of you, but how would you describe him as a person & filmmaker?

Lloyd is like a father figure to me, he taught me everything I needed to know about filmmaking, I remember importing Troma DVDs in late 1997 and listened to Lloyd’s feature length audio commentaries at twelve years old, and reading his books on filmmaking. Lloyd has always been there to answer emails and questions I may have, I flew out to Buffalo New York in the Summer of 2012 to work on Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 (2013) and Return to… Return to Nuke ‘Em High AKA Volume 2 (2017), it was an absolute dream to work on a Troma production and cameo as a background actor throughout. Lloyd returned the favour by appearing in my movie My Bloody Banjo in the Summer of 2014. My favourite movie of all time is Tromeo and Juliet (1996) so to have Lloyd on my film set was a dream come true, and he’s quickly become a mentor and a friend. 

Q) What were the inspirations for My Bloody Banjo?

I had a sexual accident with an ex girlfriend in 2011, I snapped the banjo string on my penis, and we joked about it the next day, saying how the premise would make for a fucked up movie. The following year I made a short film titled Confessions of Peltzer (aka Banjo), which played a few film festivals. I joked about the idea of turning the short film into a feature, and the more I joked about the idea, the more it became a reality, with other people championing the idea. I wanted to make a love letter to movies by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, but with a British spin, I also grew up watching a lot of gross out sitcoms like Bottom starring Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmonson. 

Q) How did you find the filming process, enjoyable, stressful……both?

A living nightmare, it was my first professional production, working with 100 cast and crew which all answered to me. I had many breakdowns behind the scenes (where nobody was looking) and was convinced that we wouldn’t have a movie, I thought that something would go wrong, I felt like I was walking on egg-shells every day. For the first time I’ve been reviewing a lot of behind the scenes footage from the production (over 200 hours) and its put me in a bout of depression reliving a lot of memories that I kinda packaged up in a box, and threw in the outback of mind. Filmmaking is hard, micro-budget filmmaking is even harder, you really need to have a love for the story you’re telling. I had so many people help me on my first movie, and I couldn’t be anymore grateful, without the cast and crew, there would be no movie. Filmmaking is a collaboration, an ensemble, and for the entire process of making My Bloody Banjo I felt like a complete hack. Maybe I am? I probably am.. 

Q) What did you learn from the whole process of filming?

You can never have enough money on a micro-budget film, so you really need to be careful with where the money is going. I pretty much gave out my debit card and credit card whilst filming, and that was the budget. Not a good idea! I wish we had more pre-production time, I felt kinda rushed with the social media response to the movie, I rushed the movie to meet Summer festivals, which I regret. My Bloody Banjo had a great festival run, but after that, it died on its arse. We signed with an awful distributor and sales agent in Arizona, and I’ve had to purchase back my own movie to salvage it for the UK territory. However the movie is leaked and is available on all the beautiful illegal streaming websites… but its the censored version (because USA don’t like genital mutilation). 

Q) Does The Director cut release suggest that you weren’t satisfied with the finished product…… or simply an attempt to make some more money!? 😉

You say more money, the truth is that My Bloody Banjo has put me in debt with my distributor of $20k due to expenses, add to the fact we had no upfront money, and I had to purchase back my UK rights to the movie, I don’t believe I’ll ever see money for the film, but if I wanted to make money, I wouldn’t have made a movie like My Bloody Banjo. I wasn’t satisfied with the released version of the movie, we were in a rush, we had a 107 minute cut screened at the Cannes Film Festival in two market screenings, and everybody hated the movie. All the festivals I wanted to get into passed on the film, it was too long, the sound design and score wasn’t finished. So within three weeks we cut out 25 minutes worth footage, and completed all sound design and music, and it played festivals for 18 months. With time away from the movie, I’ve removed quite a few scenes, added the original ending that nobody has ever seen before, more gore, more vomit, it’s a lot more faithful to the final draft of the screenplay. We have scenes in the directors cut nobody have ever seen before, not even in Cannes.

Q) What can you tell us about the release details….. dates/availability/DVD extras?

This project has been in development for almost two years now, I’ve been on and off with the project, and I’ve turned my back on the film on my occasions, however I feel that this “Directors Cut” is the definitive version of the movie, we are still assembling the cut, I would say it’s nearer to a 90 minutes running time. So it’s still shorter than the 107 minute “Cannes Cut” but, it has more scenes than that version, even though we’ve taken out a lot of fluff, I’ve been told it feels like a brand new movie. I wish that I took my time with the initial release of the movie, but there’s nobody else to blame for that than myself. 

We’re thinking of a potential limited edition blu-ray release, with brand new commentary, a feature length behind the scenes documentary, a retrospective on the movie, deleted scenes, crap like that… thinking of limiting the release to 666 copies, because I’m so nu-metal like that. We’re hoping for a release in November, with some one off screenings here and there. 

Q) What are the future plans for Liam Regan – another collaboration with Mr Kaufman?

Hopefully happiness, in the time away from screening My Bloody Banjo around the world, I’ve enjoyed spending time with my loved ones and family, I have a few projects that I want to develop and make, but filmmaking isn’t cheap, and it takes a toll on you mentally and physically. We’ll see what happens, I just want to entertain people and put a smile on their faces, I hope my movie is used as an escape to a bullied kid, or someone lonely, much like Troma movies were an escape for me. Another collaboration with Lloyd? Would love to!

 

I would like to go on record in thanking Liam for his time and refreshing honesty for the interview and would implore you to buy a copy of the release when it comes out I need November.

 

 

BTW, 5D now also has a YouTube channel which includes conversations with actors, directors & assorted luminaries from the world of Sci-fi, fantasy & horror. The channel also includes the 5D Podcast and competitions – You can find it (& maybe subscribe if you feel so inclined) at

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYhAN0Nlqg7614W2df_zI-g

 

 

2 thoughts on “Interview with director & Troma alumni, Liam Regan

    • Stuart Anderson Post authorReply

      Thanks for the kinds words about the interview – yes he’s a cool guy & I sincerely hope that he moves on to another project soon!

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