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UNSUNG HEROES OF HOLLYWOOD: The Punk Rock DIY Champion of Independent Cinema — DOUG SAKMANN

Every aspiring filmmaker grows up idolizing those trailblazers who paved the celluloid highways of yesteryear. At a certain point, filmmakers reach an age where they stumble across those who are hitting the ground running a few years ahead of them. Like a freshman roaming the halls their first week of high school, they see that cool senior walk by—the one with a group of friends that they hope, in a few years, they, too, can hold court like them.

It’s no secret that I grew up bottle-fed on the films of Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz. TROMA FILMS were everything a young boy – watching on almost mute while his parents slept in the next room – could ever wish for in films. Watching the films of these indie greats, I would dream of ways to infiltrate their studio someday. But, as you grow up, you see new blood pumping into the TROMA system like a headless dummy pumping through a tube hidden where the melon full of fake gore once was. Suddenly, you notice that senior roaming the halls again

For me, Doug Sakmann was that guy. A few years older than me, Doug opened the world up. A larger-than-life personality that welcomed all who wanted to make a difference through their art. Doug was DIY. If you want it, do it. 

Sadly, Doug passed away earlier this week at the age of 43. I, like the rest of us who knew him, am shocked and saddened by this sudden tragedy that has taken a friend and pioneer to so many.

Doug’s career started like many before him, an “actor person” in a TROMA movie. CITIZEN TOXIE: The Toxic Avenger Part IV, to be exact. That was his gateway into independent cinema, film, television, and beyond. A young sponge, Doug wanted to learn everything he could about making films, and who better to teach him than Uncle Lloyd? So Doug never went home, so to speak. Soon, he would be doing any task that needed to be done with the studio.


Making art with a group of assembled folks who shared the philosophy of “Let’s Put On A Show!” Countless projects with those who believed you didn’t need the big studios to open the pearly gates of major motion pictures to entertain the masses. 

Doug wasn’t your typical artist. There was no competitive “me versus them” or “I am the only one with a vision, and you’re inferior for not getting it” mentality. Doug wasn’t just the life of the party, but a natural-born leader sharing all his knowledge with those who needed help on their journey, not only in film but as a human being navigating life’s trials and tribulations alongside you. Doug’s friendship and tutelage didn’t just guide me and my journey.

Doug was the beacon of light for anyone and everyone that he came into contact with. I wasn’t his best friend, but he made you feel like you were, you know? He was a kindhearted, beautiful soul. He was our friend. He was our mentor. If there was a Mount Rushmore of DIY, Doug is there.

My deepest condolences to all who knew and loved him. 

I miss you, Doug.