Jeff Leroy: Slugging it out in Microbudget

Jeff Leroy was an invaluable player in nearly all of my early Southern California movies. He shot most of them, always with style and aplomb, and always with an eagerness to take artistic risks. He also edited most of those movies, and provided digital and miniature effects as needed. He is one of the few DPs I have ever worked with who was as conversant with the history of film as myself. When I said I wanted Mario Bava-style colors in THE CRAWLING BRAIN, he knew just what I meant and delivered the goods without further explanation necessary.

crawling brain poster

Jeff is the epitome of the independent, grassroot, microbudget filmmaker guy. He is a one man band who creates over the top, effects laden marvels like nobody else is making. RAT SCRATCH FEVER is part Gerry Anderson, part Bert I. Gordon, part Sam Peckinpah, and all mind-boggling entertainment. Jeff writes, directs, creates effects, shoots and edits his own stuff. It’s a shame he isn’t more known, but kudos, he’s still slugging it out and making a living after 36 years of this.

leroyJeff Leroy

Jeff cites THE WAGES OF FEAR and THE WILD BUNCH as his two favorite movies. I can’t argue with those choices. But he also lists a diverse assortment of influences, and when you see his movies, they make total sense as the source of his muse.

WagesOfFear the-wild-bunch

“The Poseidon Adventure in late ’72 made a huge impression on me,” Leroy said. “I saw all those disaster movies and became interested in the combination of characters you actually care about combined with special effects. Particularly miniature destruction. Late 60’s early 70’s seem to be a really favorite time for me: PATTON, 2001, DEATH WISH, DELIVERANCE, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. STRAW DOGS, TAXI DRIVER. Sci fit v shows like STAR TREK, UFO, SPACE: 1999 (Season 1), BUCK ROGERS (season one). SUPERMAN 1978. – Where is all the fun in today’s comic book movies? Only GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY got it right.”

Jeff took those influence and, independent from the start, he raised funds and made his own movie.

“I’ve been making home movies since 1979. My first released film, CRACK UP, was completed in 1996,”  Leroy said. “It was my loving homage to Sam Peckinpah. The 16mm film was kind of a mess, but coherent enough to get released. And the check didn’t bounce!”

11010555_ori  [In 2001, the effects and action scenes from CRACK UP were used as the basis for Leroy’s entry into the “urban action” genre, CRACK.]

Jeff did get burned in other ways, however, and that cemented his conviction to do it all himself.

“On my second film, THE SCREAMING (1999), the co-producer promised this prop guy that worked on BABYLON 5 would build this great prop for my movie,” Leroy said. “He kept promising this prop right up to the minute we were shooting. Then. he finally admitted he didn’t even start building the prop while we were shooting. Since then, I’ve had a strong distrust of everyone. If you don’t handle it yourself, it will be screwed up. Since those days I’ve met some DP’s and producers I really like to work with and grown to trust them. And actors, too. Phoebe Dollar. Victoria De Mare. Tasha Tacosa. Rachel Riley to name a few.”

MV5BMTQ4MjM5MDY5MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDU5ODU4MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_[This 4-movie package contains Leroy’s THE SCREAMING,]

Jeff has a philosophy about filmmaking, and it’s grounded in realistic commerce. That’s probably why he is still doing this, 36 years later.

“Unless you are independently wealthy, you are taking thousands of dollars from someone to make a movie that will hopefully make the money back and turn a profit,” Leroy said. “If you make some artistic masterpiece only you have the brilliance to understand, you won’t be in business long. Not everyone can be David Lynch. I attempt to make fast moving, fun, exploitation films that people will enjoy with some artsy touches. Movies that I enjoy watching and keep the producer in black ink. That’s about it.”

Jeff is staying busy with titles that would make any exploitation hound drool.

“[My 2006 film] WEREWOLF IN A WOMEN’S PRISON has two sequels coming! DRACULA IN A WOMEN’S PRISON and FRANKENSTEIN IN A WOMEN’S PRISON,” Leroy gushed. “I also have a very funny movie or web series called GIANTESS ATTACK that I’m working on. As you know, the market for straight to video movies is in the toilet. I am very grateful I can still do this and scrape out a living.”

92a3df97f510ba9c2f510a27d36fd5c0

Amen Jeff. You’ve done a valiant job of it. Keep it up. You are an inspiration to the rest of us.

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4 responses to “Jeff Leroy: Slugging it out in Microbudget”

  1. william combs says :

    A great guy in person. William Combs

  2. rfordius says :

    You should know! He shot the two movies I made for you.

  3. thisgirlzlifela says :

    Reblogged this on THIS GIRLZ LIFE and commented:
    Check out a little the buzz on one of my fave directors JEFF LEROY!!!
    I have worked with him in
    “Rat Scratch Fever”
    “Aliens vs Titanic”
    “Dracula in a Women’s Prison”
    “Frankenstein in a Women’s Prison”
    & currently shooting
    “Giantess Attack”

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