You either love of hate Kevin Smith, at least so they say. I’m a fan of his early work – the Clerks to Dogma years. After that things got a bit wobbly and I’ve not really been able to get back into his stuff. I’ve yet to even watch Red State, though several people have told me it is great. But Red State also marked a weird moment in Smith’s career, as if he was trying to get out of some kind of rut. It turns out that this was very true, as he explains to The Verge. After his initial few movies Smith felt he was running out of ideas:
“Honestly, I flat-out stopped [making movies] and I wasn’t intending to come back, except for Clerks 3,” Smith told me over the phone. While Clerks and the films that followed them were often polarizing to critics, they were also films only Smith could have made, full of details pulled from his own life. “I’m not a creative person,” he says, “I just took what I lived and put it in the movies. And at a certain point, you strip-mine what little real life you had.”
It’s a dilemma all creatives face at some point. I believe Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki once remarked that when you are young you should take in all the inspiration that you can, because when you are older there is no time for that anymore. Anyway, Smith was about to pack it in, especially since he had his popular podcasts to focus on, as well as his reality show Comic Book Men. Some pundits even decided his love of marijuana was killing his film career, though that never stood up and if anything helped make the Smodcast and his Comic Con appearances so memorable.
Then along came Tusk, which gave Smith a new inspiration to make movies:
Tusk — an incredibly bizarre horror-comedy film about, in Smith’s words, “a guy who turns a guy into a fucking walrus” — and its forthcoming follow-ups Yoga Hosers and Moose Jaws are perfect example of his current filmmaking philosophy — Smith is back in the moviemaking game purely on his own terms, and he’s clearly feeling reinvigorated. “Rather than be like ‘I’m not making movies anymore,’ I just decided after Tusk that the mantra was more about, ‘I’ll only make movies that only I would bother to make,'” Smith declares, following it up by noting dryly that “nobody would ever try to make that walrus movie.” And while Tusk was considered a box office flop, Smith says that the low budgets he now works with have let him make films with very little risk. Tusk even helped him find a financing partner who is helping Smith complete his bizarre, Canada-focused “True North” horror trilogy — and finally get Clerks 3 off the ground.
Smith also gives some details on Clerks 3, a movie I must admit I am not all that excited about. But I didn’t enjoy Clerks 2 either. That said, the third (and final) movie will not be about the morose Dante, but fan favourite man-child Randal.
Rather than focusing on the hapless clerk Dante who dominated the first two Clerks films, Smith says Clerks 3 will focus more on the disgruntled but hilarious man-child Randal. “This dude does not know how to function in the real world and [he] winds up escaping in a way that’s kind of similar to the way I escaped from life from time to time,” Smith explains. “There’s something about being online a lot that informs this movie.”
A movie about Randal growing up and facing reality? That could be a hit or miss, but as long as Smith stays away from the overbearing rom-com tropes that dragged down Clerks 2, it could be interesting. Regardless, Smith is back in the directing saddle and away from the mainstream schlock that nearly ruined him. Maybe I will give Red State a try this week, just to celebrate the news.
Last Updated: October 28, 2014