It’s no secret on this
site that I am a huge Kevin Smith fan (both personally and
professionally). The man continues to put out original films with superb
dialogue year after year, remains grounded to the floor and always cares
and looks after his fans. His appearances at the Con are a great
example, as his panels are usually the ones with the most people packed
into the place. This year, he was pushing his latest film JAY &
SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK, for which he was handing out tickets to anyone
asking him semi-decent questions (actually, I think he ended up giving
it to pretty much anyone who asked a question). Unfortunately, he still
had some tickets left in the end, and without any decision on how to
give them away, things got a little rowdy at the front of the stage, as
folks stormed it for a chance to see his film that very same evening.
But other than that, as per his usual style, Kevin’s panel was easily
the funniest one to attend all weekend.
BTW, he started off his
panel by bringing out his daughter, Harley (see pic below). The first
thing he did was ask her to say “hello” to the crowd and she did.
Then he said, “Now say “fuck”…after a few seconds pause, Harley
turned to her dad and said “no”. Pretty funny stuff. Smith’s wife
then came up on stage to take the child away from him and the questions
started. Here are some of the cool stuff that I retained from the panel:
When asked whether or not he intends to keep working
with his regular “View Askew” people (Jason Mewes, etc…) even
now that his “dick & fart” joke movies are behind him (Smith
said that JAY & SILENT BOB… would be his last movie as such),
Kevin said that he definitely does intend to keep working with them
since he finds it easier to write for them and also likes working with
the same people over and over.
Someone asked Kevin about another rumored “Jersey
film” that he was supposed to make called NAME. Kevin said that he
hadn’t made up his mind on that film yet but that it was gonna be a
more serious film like CHASING AMY, if it ever were to get made. He also
said that he didn’t want to talk more about it, in case he decided to
do it one day…
At some point in the panel, actor and Kevin Smith
friend Jason Mewes came onto the stage at the delight of the packed
house. He did his usual schtick and then sat down next to Kevin. One of
the first questions that he got was someone asking him how he prepared
for his role as Jay. His response: “Drank and smoked a lot of bud!”
You gotta love this guy!
When asked about how he developed his screenwriting
abilities, Kevin explained how he had gone to film school in Vancouver
for 4 months, but hadn’t gotten much out of it. Fortunately, that’s
where he met his present-day producer Scott Mosier, and they started
their reign of cinematic terror soon thereafter. BTW, Kevin’s
philosophy on writing is that you either “can or can’t write”. He
said that school was mostly for shit like formatting and stuff like
that. He also said of directing that he “was of the mind that a chimp
can direct, and that if he can direct, you can direct”. I’ve always
appreciated Kevin’s support of others, frankness and humble attitude
in this respect.
Kevin was asked what else he planned to do in comics
and he said that he would be continuing on GREEN ARROW (although he said
that he wasn’t attached or anything to the possibly rumored movie
based on the comic), BLUNTMAN & CHRONIC and would like to pitch
something to DC for BRAVE AND THE BOLD. He also announced the next day
at the Con that he would be writing THE BLACK CAT as well.
When asked whether he liked THE PHANTOM MENACE or
not, Kevin said “Yeah, I did, but I didn’t really expect that much
from it”. He also joked about how the pod race should definitely have
been cut down.
An audience member started off one of his questions
by referring to Kevin as Dr. Smith, which Kevin laughed at and told
everyone that he had, in fact, been given a doctorat from a College last
year. He was asked how the FLETCH treatment was going and he said that
he hadn’t started it yet, although that would likely be his next thing
or maybe the next, next thing.
Of course, Internet rumors are so prelavant nowadays,
that any panel would not be complete without at least one question about
them, so someone asked Kevin to address the rumor about him being in the
next STAR WARS movie: “I am?” The guy who asked the question then
said “Yeah, you’re supposed to be Obi-Wan’s cousin or
something!” Of course, Kevin and the crowd couldn’t help but laugh
at that one and Kevin said, “No, nobody has asked me to be in any STAR
WARS movie, but I’d love to do, if asked.”
As per Jay’s demeanor in person (very quiet with
few words spoken when asked a question), Kevin was asked whether or not
he really based his character of Jay on Jason Mewes. Kevin said that he
definitely did, but that he based him on Jason’s persona when he was
about 14-15, when he was pretty much bouncing off walls every day.
Someone asked about the DOGMA DVD documentary that
was left out of the Special Edition due to legal reasons and whether or
not it would ever see the light of day and Kevin said that he actually
wanted to bring it to the Con to show everyone there, but that it was
just too long (45 minutes) and that not everyone was “into” DOGMA.
He did however say that it would be seen “…all in good time” one
day, and that his Internet site would likely be the first place to
showcase it in 3 sections (15 minutes each). Or maybe even on the VULGAR
DVD, which is a film directed by his friend Brian Johnson which should
be in theaters on October 11, 2001.
Asked about the test screening results for JAY &
SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK, Kevin said that things were going “great”
and that they had received an 87% approval rate in their San Diego test
run, which is “very, very cool”. He also said that another one in
Arizona had gone really well (81%) and that most of the people there
went in “blindly” (no prior knowledge of the film that they were
about to see), so that was an even more positive result. He also said
that the film was having great press screenings and that “so far, so
When asked from where he drew his own inspiration,
Kevin said, “Do I steal my shit, is that what you’re saying?”
Everyone cracked up, of course. Then, he seriously responded (with a bit
of mush thrown in for good measure) and said that his wife was his
“chief inspiration” (this is when the whole crowd went “aaaaaaaaah!”).
And what about the rumored CLERKS animated series to
continue on MTV? Kevin said that he is still working on this, although
Miramax would rather do a full-length animated CLERKS feature film, than
continue with the shows. Stay tuned.
Kevin then presented the crowd with a 5-6 minute reel
of gags/outtakes from his upcoming JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK
flick, which were obviously…very, very funny!
“So Kevin, would you ever direct a script that you
didn’t write? “No, I don’t really consider myself a director, as
much as I do a writer who just happens to direct.” Kevin said that he
gets offered a lot of stuff, but turns most of it down (like GOOD WILL
HUNTING for example).
And what would Kevin’s comic book dream project be?
He said that if he ever got the time, he would try and write up
something called “Tales Gone Askew”, which would be like a
chronicles anthology, with all of the characters from View Askew.
Will Jason Mewes ever do films other than with Kevin
Smith? The answer was a resounding “yes”.
Of course, what’s a panel of questions without at
least one query about Paul Thomas Anderson. “So Kevin, what’s up
with Paul Thomas Anderson?” Kevin’s response: “Not much.” He
also said that his relationship with Paul is pretty well detailed in the
interview that he did with Mysterio from the AIN’T IT COOL NEWS
website, which you can read here.
As a director, does Kevin allow his actors to
improvise? Kevin responded to this question with yet another one of his
patented jokes, “I tell them to just fuckin’ do it!” Then he said
that it really depends on the movie actually, because on CHASING AMY,
the tone was much more serious, so there was a little more interaction
with his actors. Comedies are usually much easier, he said, but he
generally hates “ad-libbers”. He also told a story about how Ben
Affleck loved to ad-lib and Kevin would always tell his to “write his
own script” if he thought that his lines were better. Of course, Ben
went on to write GOOD WILL HUNTING with Matt Damon and won an Oscar for
screenwriting. Kevin noted the irony in all of that.
Someone asked Kevin why the credits at the end of
CLERKS say that DOGMA is the next film. Kevin said that he had already
written DOGMA at that time, but that it was technically too difficult to
film and that he wasn’t sure on whether or not he was ready to do it
just then (especially since the script meant a lot to him). So he
continued to write drafts of the film every year since 1994, until he
finally found the right time to film it in 1999. Mind you, he says that
he “still sees the flaws in the film today”.
Kevin was also asked if music inspired him at all? He
said that he usually listens to music while he’s writing, but that he
generally changes his mind about a certain song by the time filming
comes around. He said that music is usually just an after-thought.
What’s Kevin’s favorite experience on a movie
set? Kevin said that he couldn’t really remember “one moment”
since he does have a lot of them, but that he definitely knows what his
“least favorite” moment was and that was directing his own daughter
in JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK. She plays the young Silent Bob
character early on in the film and was apparently the “toughest
actor” he’d ever worked with. The irony was that she was supposed to
be playing SILENT Bob, but that she was NEVER quiet.
Someone asked Kevin about his experience working with
actor Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) for his upcoming movie, so Kevin
took that moment to show us another 5-6 minute video of
behind-the-scenes of JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK. ** SPOILERS AHEAD
** The tape was all about Mark Hamill’s super-hero character in the
movie called COCK-KNOCKER and how they had originally painted a blue
cock on his face as his disguise. They actually showed us the original
make-up on Hamill’s face, with a blue ball on each cheek, but Smith
changed his mind once he saw it, and had it replaced by something else
for the film. Still pretty funny though.
Now I’m not sure if any of you had heard about this
already, but musician Prince had called Kevin a few weeks ago and asked
him to film a documentary of him. Kevin said that he obviously
couldn’t say “no” and that he’d always been a fan of
“Batdance” (everyone laughed). He said that he didn’t really know
much about the guy before he met him and that the experience actually
felt more like a “job” to him. He said that he did see “another
side” of Prince, and that his main task was to film people talking
about his new album and stuff. It was apparently a pretty long process
and lasted about a week or so. He also mixed in some concert footage of
Prince in Minnesota. Smith wasn’t sure what Prince had seen in DOGMA
that made him want to call him up and ask for his help, but he wasn’t
sure if he ever wanted to do anything like that again either (work for
someone else). It basically sounded like Kevin didn’t have much
“say” in the project and that he was just there as a “hired
hand” and I could imagine that after all of his own projects at View
Askew, it must’ve been weird being told what to do and all. Smith also
said that Prince would still be a little “vague” with him about
certain questions that Kevin had, and Kevin would be like “yeah, but
what exactly does that mean, dude?!?”
When asked about what was next on his plate, Kevin
said that he was definitely just gonna stick to writing/directing, and
that acting was definitely not for him (he joked that he had pretty much
done his “face-time” and that he would now just want to sit behind a
camera and get “Brando-fat!”
Would Kevin Smith ever teach his learnings onto
others? Apparently not. Kevin first said that he wasn’t sure if he
actually had any wealth of skills to pass onto others (always the modest
one, this guy) and that he really didn’t have any greater desire to
teach. He also talked about his one experience as a teacher in a high
school, and said that he didn’t really like it all that much. Some
kids would be paying attention, others wouldn’t and others would just
be looking at him pissed and shit.
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