THE ONE AND ONLY KEVIN SMITH

Interview by Mark Walters

Kevin Smith is perhaps the most loved independent filmmaker ever, and with good reason.  Aside from his films being just plain fun, Smith himself is one of the most personable guys you'd ever meet.  He consistently appears at conventions, where he gives talks and spends hours signing autographs for fans.  In fact I've seen the guy after a few signings, dead on his feet from working so hard, barely able to keep his eyes open, and still stopping to say hi to an admirer.  To put it simply Kevin deserves his success because he truly appreciates his fans.  He' is currently working on a sequel to the film the put him on the map.  THE PASSION OF THE CLERKS will be out fairly soon, seeing the return of Dante and Randal to the Quick Stop.  I for one can't wait.  Over the years I've talked to Kevin several times at various shows, but to this day I've never had a chance to interview the guy... until now.  The following interview was conducted at Wizard World Chicago 2005.

MARK: Alright man, let's start by talking about what everyone wants to hear about, which is CLERKS 2.  Now I know you're being top secret about the script.  Can we expect to see some of things you done before, like certain actors playing multiple characters?

KEVIN: I don't think we're going to be doubling up on any of the roles.  Brian will be playing Dante, Jeff will be playing Randal, and me and Jason will be playing Silent Bob and Jay.  But other than that I don't think there's any doubling up.  We're not gonna be doing any of that.  It's weird because you can't really catch lightning in a bottle, in terms of trying to do that movie again, which is something that we put a lot of thought into.  I mean, do we try to make it look like shit, so that it looks like the other one.  And do we cast multiple people playing multiple parts.  You know, that would feel like pandering to me.  The reason we did that back in the day in because we just had no resources then.  Now we have resources, so it would be weird to pretend like we don't.  So it's a cheap movie for me, at this point... cheaper than anything we've made in years.  But there's still enough money to cast separate people in each role.  I mean, do we approximate what we did before, or do we take what we've learned in ten or eleven years of doing this, and make it look better?  And we ultimately decided "let's make it look better."  The story and the characters kind of tie it very securely to the original.

MARK: Black and white?  Color?  Little of both?

KEVIN: Both.

MARK: Shot on 35mm?

KEVIN: Yeah well that's kind of up in the air too.  We're still going back and forth on whether to do hi-def video or shoot on film.  We're not sure which one.  Dave Klein is gonna run a few camera tests with both and we'll see which one.  The beauty of doing it on hi-def video or one of those 24B cameras would be that they're kind of like the 16mm camera of the day.  Back in the day, if those had existed, we probably would've used that instead of a 16mm camera.  So it would give it kind of that indie feel if we shot video, but then again is that pandering?  Is that us trying to do something, thinking it, over thinking it?  Cause we don't need it, right?  We can shoot on 35, and it takes a little bit longer, as it always does.  But it feels like shooting on video might just be kind of a trick, or self-conscious for the sake of being self-conscious.  Like let's do it like this cause it would've been like 16mm.  I think ultimately it will end up being 35mm.  Cause also we've got a lot of indoor to outdoor shots where it would cross the threshold of the doorway and whatnot.  That video stuff doesn't handle light changes very well, to go from interior lighting to exterior natural light.  And film has always been able to do that, definitely well.  So I'd be shocked if we would end up doing video at this point, unless Dave could show me something that just blows my mind.

MARK: Now as much as this is going to be a nod to the original CLERKS, will there also be some nods to the other films that came in between?

KEVIN: Not really.  It's pretty much just straight CLERKS.  We really don't refer to anything else.  I'm trying to think... there's no MALLRATS, CHASING AMY, DOGMA, JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BA... you know what, there is a reference to JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK.

MARK: Cool.  You announced that you've finished off SPIDER-MAN/BLACK CAT, and you were saying before that you're going to be working on the DAREDEVIL: TARGET book.  That's your next project?

KEVIN: Yeah, being that it's the project I have yet to finish.  I hesitate to call it next, but it's the thing I want to finish, before I think about doing anything else.

MARK: You ever think about doing one-shots instead or more drawn-out series?

KEVIN: It's tough, cause I can't tell a very succinct story unless you've got 48 to 96 pages.  That's kind of tough to go on for me.  And if at that point if I was gonna write something that was 96 pages long, they would just want to break it up into two issues anyway, so they could double bill it, so you get your issues then you get your trade afterwards.  I just think in the future whenever I do comic book work people should wait until every script is submitted before they even start soliciting, or even announce it, you know?  Like when I worked on GREEN ARROW, Schrek waited until every script was turned in... not every script, but he waited until the first five scripts were turned in, before he even announced it or even put an artist on the book.  So that was probably a good plan, because otherwise it would've ended up being late.  And I ended up being a month late on that book, somewhere in the run.  But it kept me more in line.  Because the problem is it's just not my day job, right?  It's something I enjoy doing, and it's fun, but it's always going to be an extra-curricular project.

MARK: You said you'd been buying a lot of books, but you haven't had a chance to read anything lately.  Rather than talk about some of your favorite books, who are some of your favorite artists that are working in the industry today?

KEVIN: I'm so not an art guy.  I certainly can appreciate good art when I see it, but I don't read a book based on the artist, I never really think about it.  I find when I read a comics I never really look at the images, I'm just kind of right in the text.  That being said there are people I think are great.  I think Jim Lee is great, John Cassaday I think is great.  And there are dudes whose names I don't even know, who I kind of have respect for and whatnot.  Like, who does GOTHAM CENTRAL?

MARK: Oh, Michael Lark.

KEVIN: Yeah, Lark, I like the look of that book.

MARK: He's another Dallas boy.

KEVIN: Yeah, really?  I like the look of that book.  I like the dude who does DAREDEVIL as well.

MARK: Are we thinking of Mack, or Alex Maleev?

KEVIN: Alex Maleev.  I love David Mack's stuff as well, it's gorgeous and interesting.  But I've never been that visually oriented, so I kind of tend to lean more toward the writers than the artists.

MARK: Yeah.  Couple of quick Hollywood questions.  GREEN HORNET, you've turned in your draft.  Now you're not sure what they're going to do with it right now, or if they have any plans?

KEVIN: Right.

MARK: Can you tell us anything about your direction, where you want to take the story with the characters?

KEVIN: There was a piece of my direction, and largely the direction that was dictated by virtue of the fact that it was going to be a very big-budgeted flick.  So they wanted to make it kind of as appealing to the mainstream as possible.  That was one of the reasons I was like, I don't know if I want to put it all on the line for something like this.  I want it to be for something that was mine from the get go.  Or at least something that was conceived by me 100%.  And with this one there were a lot more constraints.  I was getting a lot of "Make it more like SPIDER-MAN."  And I was like "What?!"  They're apples and oranges.  So at the end it becomes this kind of hybrid of stuff I wanted to do, and stuff I had to do.  What they wanted me to do by virtue of the fact that is was big-budget.

MARK: The JAY AND SILENT BOB DO DEGRASSI DVD is on it's way too, right?

KEVIN: Yeah, Jason Mewes and I did three episodes, which are going to be on the DVD.  And I think we're going to be shooting a movie at some point, probably for next year.

MARK: Last thing I'll ask you is the STAR WARS television series stuff, horseshit?  (For those of you that didn't hear it, rumors were flying around the internet that Kev was going to write and direct 5 episodes of the upcoming SW series)

KEVIN: The STAR WARS stuff is horseshit.  There was never any truth to that rumor.  I think someone even said Lucasfilm had made an official announcement about my involvement at some point.  Not true at all.  I'd be honored to work on something like that, but it's honestly never come up.

MARK: Cool.  Thanks for talking to us Kevin.

KEVIN: You bet, thanks man.

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