So Kevin Smith has launched his release plan for RED STATE. Perhaps of most note is that he plans to tour the country for the next two years, doing post-show Q-and-A's.
Which is cool. My feelings about Kevin Smith aside*, any filmmaker committed to making sure his fans have the option of a theatrical screening of his film has got my back, as far as that goes.
It's his reasoning, however, I find a bit specious:
My long-term goal with the ever-evolving Red State experiment is to redefine the theatrical exhibition window: if I’m willing to accompany the flick somewhere in the country every other weekend for the next two years, I can probably do about $20 to $30k per night. That’s a big enough per-screen to land Red State a noticeable position on Variety’s weekly box office chart every other weekend. And if I can make sure Red State stays on that chart for the next few years, some kid who wants to make a movie but sees the system of the movie business as impenetrable might just find it a little easier to get his or her head around… and maybe give it a shot themselves.
I'm totally with this until the middle of the fourth sentence - and it's the idea that Kevin Smith puts forth here that captures something that's been a constantly recurring motif of the RED STATE release. The idea that somehow he's opening the doors for other young filmmakers to follow him.
But he has something none of them have. Well, lots of things. To name a few:
- a 15+ year, 10 film career of consistently high-profile films
- 1.85 million Twitter followers
- an almost unique status amongst contemporary directors as a raconteur - I've heard more than one person say that the best thing he's ever done is his AN EVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH DVD. The only other personality who comes to mind with a similar reputation is John Waters (and I doubt he could draw half the crowd Smith does, sadly)
- a film starring Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, John Goodman, and many other familiar faces (Anna Gunn from BREAKING BAD and Stephen Root jump out to me)
In sum, Kevin Smith, with CLERKS, made a film that was inspirational to many because of its approach - no name actors, low production values, low budget, in sum, a model almost anybody could follow. Now, almost two decades later, he's trying to achieve the same sort of inspiration for distribution with an approach that virtually no one can follow.
Can they? Am I missing something? Or put differently: do I have any filmmaker friends out there who are finding inspiration in this?
*As a film that embodied the DIY aesthetic like no film I'd seen before it (which says more to what films I'd seen than film history as such, but anyway), CLERKS was in fact inspirational to me, as was CHASING AMY, which I got to see with Kevin Smith and producer Scott Mosier in attendance at a pre-release screening in Houston, prior to the days of these things being gigantic events. I asked him what he was working on next, and he talked about DOGMA, and how he had been nervous whether the studio would support it, to which Bob Weinstein replied, "we'll put that shit out on Good Friday!" (note: probably a paraphrase, given that this was 15 years ago). He invited everyone to meet up with him afterwards for a drink somewhere, but I was going to see a band - either Six Finger Satellite or Railroad Jerk, can't remember which - that night. Anyway. I also laughed my ass off at JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK and, more recently, found - yes - CLERKS II unexpectedly touching. There's other films I like less - some a lot less - and I don't think he's got much aesthetic sense as a director, but nonetheless, he's still made some entertaining flicks. Point being, I'm not a hater.