How has digitalisation affected the film industry? Has it made things easier, better or worse in your opinion?
For the industry as a whole I'm not sure, but for independent film makers and companies like Troma then it's a benefit because we can get our stuff out there and there's a brand name already and people have more access to it, but on the other side of that there's not a lot for revenue for filmmakers. It's a double edged sword. You have to market your stuff carefully and if you do catch a break on the web, for example, you can always try and sell your own stuff. I think it's a gamble but it’s a good thing for now.
Does using digital technology make the process of filmmaking easier? For example, what effect has digitisation had on the editing of films?
Editing is a lot faster, you have access to everything. Even if you can shoot on film and get your dailies transferred to digital tape, you can load it right in and start editing. You can even be shooting a movie and have someone logging the footage as you go along, which makes for a much faster process. With non-linear editing packages, like Avid, and especially Final Cut Pro, you can do slick titles and animation now; it just moves the process along a lot faster.
Which equipment do you favour, for example, which editing software, etc, do you use?
Well at Troma we use an older version of Avid. Avid is more the industry standard. You can do a lot more, especially with the audio, with the Avid. With Final Cut Pro, which we use sometimes, you can move things around a lot easier.
So have you used non digital technology yourself or are you focused entirely on the more modern methods of editing?
Well my main focus is on digital. I've used things at school like reel to reel editing and things like Steinbacks, which really encourage you to focus on your story and therefore make a better film. Whereas with digital technology you have thousands of options and you have a chance to get it right.
So for someone like yourself would you say digital technology is the method you’d prefer to use all the way?
Yes, especially if you're low on funds it’s the best thing, but at the heart of it is still a good story I think. You need to tell a good story 'cause there's a lot of crap out there anyway!
What’s your background Travis, how did you get into the film industry and what's your technical expertise - what course did you do, for example?
I'm from Ohio originally. I went to the Ohio Centre for Broadcasting for one year, which is a radio, technical school. When the digital stuff was all happening then I ended up in the News, and I didn't like the news media aspect at all. If you're not really dedicated to the News it's a chore and that's why I left. And then I went to college for four years in Ohio then I applied online for Troma and got the job.
So why go into filmmaking as opposed to one of a plethora of other potential careers you might have had?
I don't know really. I guess I was just drawn to it. There's an opportunity to tell great stories - I think the world needs great stories told through good films, because it's severely lacking in that department at the moment. And the internet has opened up a whole new realm for that, it's just a matter of finding really good content that makes it worthwhile.
How do you think the internet has helped/hindered the film industry over recent years?
I think it's a great help for independent film makers; it's instant distribution. You can set up your own channels; you can release your film online without having to hit the festival circuit. But on the downside there are a lot of websites, like the Torns' website, where you can download free movies, stuff that's not even in theatres yet, which is a real hindrance. Maybe not to the studios as much because they want to make as much as they can, but on the off chance that an independent film maker gets his stuff ripped off, then it's a bad thing then.
Do you, at Troma, get affected by IT security breaches with viruses, malware, Trojans, things like that? Do you store data on a mainframe or is it all in house on your own server? Do you have problems with hackers, people trying to access your films early to sell them on or don't you have those sorts of problems?
We have everything on hard drives. Real basic stuff you can buy anywhere. We upload all the time. Lloyd is actually for pirating and for all that kind of thing. He has a better take on that kind of area than I do. I'm kind of paraphrasing but I know he's for the internet and but against media consolidation, so they don't take over and try to over regulate the entertainment industry.
What films have you worked on that Troma have produced? How long have you been with the company now?
I've been with them for only about six months - I'm taking over from the editor that left and will be doing a lot of extras for the Poutrygeist DVD that's coming out soon.
So what projects are you going to be working on in future or haven't you been told yet?
Well we're trying to develop a new animated show for 'The Toxic Avenger' for the internet actually, for Xbox 360 live and for the Juiced channel, just exclusively for the web, and try to do a full season and see what happens with the animated side of things and the technology.
Do you think that is how independent film makers are going to have to go, put more stuff online and sell directly to the customer as downloads themselves, and cut out the middle men, the distributors who often don't take the interest in independent film makers?
I think so; I thing the whole independent film phase, which arose in the 90s through Sundance along with films such as 'Pulp Fiction', is kind of over. It's kind of finding stuff online. Anyone who's just putting stuff online though, making a living out of it I would think would be extremely difficult. It's like an abyss; you never know what’s going to happen or how to make something viable. It's totally frustrating at times.
Wii or Playstation?
I'd say Wii, I haven't really experimented with both of them so far but I hear Wii is the way to go.
Smartphone or Blackberry?
Blackberry. Lloyd's got one and we’ve all being kind of playing with it. We call it the Crackberry, Crackfairy or Crapberry! He's had a few problems with it but overall it's the Troma Blackberry.
Nerd or geek?
Probably geek. I would just say that in getting into all this technical stuff I'm more inclined to sit down and read a technical manual than a normal book. It's a good Friday night reading thing!
Proprietary or open source?
I think, proprietary.
Independent or mainstream film?
Independent. I think with mainstream it's so easy to lose all creative control. This is why Lloyd has been so successful in what he does; he ploughs on through and does whatever the hell he wants. It's a good teaching lesson to be around Lloyd to see how all the stuff works. With the internet we're kind of moving into a new realm and teaching each other things and seeing how it can all coalesce into the new Troma.
What's Lloyd like as an employer?
Good question. He's pretty good, he looks out for his people and he's always firing off ideas and you try to take what he says and make it your own and eventually it gets shaped into something that’s usable or it's just forgotten. He's very much into the collaborative process.