Kevin Smith On Red State, The Decline of Moviemaking, and His Love Affair With "This Ridiculous F*cking Art Form"

Kevin Smith On Red State, The Decline of Moviemaking, and His Love Affair With "This Ridiculous F*cking Art Form"

Smith speaks with Toronto Underground Cinema on his international "Red State" tour.

In the 90's Kevin Smith was a household name, with his 1994 smash indie hit Clerks, and several other less prominent, but equally well-done films like Mallrats, and Chasing Amy. Several less important Jay and Silent Bob movies later (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back felt like Kevin Smith trying to write all of his friends into a movie he didn't really care about) and Smith has shrunk from the national stage somewhat. However, it wasn't until the brutal critical backlash for his movie Cop Out, with Bruce Willis and Tracey Morgan, that he decided to officially hang up his stirrups in the mainstream market. Frankly, I'm glad to hear it. There are some artists that get into the mainstream of popular acclaim (and criticism) and fade with their follow-ups, and others than cave to what's trending and lose the very quality that made them great in the first place. I don't see Smith as either of these, but as someone that needs to be on the fringes because that's just where he belongs. I don't see Clerks being the product of anything but someone on the outside, not bothering to look in.

Case in point, his new film Red State, is being hailed as one of his best ever, and rather than allowing it to make the usual cinema circuits, Smith publicly bought the distribution rights and is personally taking it on a tour; a tour that includes one of his famous live Q&A sessions that often last longer than the actual movie. It was during his tour of Red States that he stopped for a press conference with Toronto Underground Cinema. Explaining his departure from mainstream cinema, he says “I cut ties with the critical community after they went after Cop Out... They went after it like bullies in the schoolyard. It was so weird, and that movie wasn’t supposed to be Schindler’s List. It was literally called Cop Out, and still they wanted to grade it on a different scale.” His argument extends to those outside the critical side of movie making, to the corporate distribution side as well. Referencing a Disney exec, he says, "They know they're making sh*t," and he has a point. Listening to some of the shooting schedules and budget lines around modern films you come to understand that most of that is soaked up after they finish shooting with CGI and other big-budget looking effects that will draw audiences in a trailer. "It's a fast-food assembly line," Smith opines.

Red State is Smith's penultimate work, he states. He has a thriving podcast business with 25 different highly-successful channels, and has recently shot a pilot for a TV show. He does have one more cinematic project, his "magnum opus"; a two-part Canadian hockey movie called Hit Somebody. “Hit Somebody is about Canada, and it’s about hockey, so it’s not going to be easy to get financed." Fortunately, Red State has already made a profit and Smith still has tours left on his calendar. By paying back his financiers promptly he hopes to be able to raise the capital for Hit Somebody, and make the movie he's always wanted to. "The last two movies are going to be my best work because I don’t give a sh*t anymore. I have no career to think about. I’m closing it down, and if you’re not thinking about the future anymore, you’re only thinking about the present in a real, ‘seize the day’ kind of way."