Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Clerks


Over at filmmaker magazine's blog they had a news idem of Kevin Smith's "Clerks 2" getting a standing ovation at Canne. This made me kind of nostalgic, and so I reviewed "Clerks" ,Smith's debut film again. Why you ask? Well when Clerks was released, and the legend began I was still formulating on how to get a film done myself. I'm a fan of Kevin Smith, and I've seen most of his films. I've laughed at his characters antics, and have been thoroughly been entertained by what I call the Kevin Smith universe. Back in 1994 when Clerks was released I was taken aback by Clerks, and it's funny and comical look at minimum wage workers. I was even more impressed at Smith since he himself lived that life, and knew full well about that world. I was also impressed on the budget and how Smith filmed his debut film. I eventually saw the film three times. Once with my girlfriend, and then twice more by myself. I studied it, and all three times I enjoyed what I saw, and heard. Smith has a ear for funny dialogue, and he is well steeped in the youthful culture of today. I believe it is because of this he has so many rabid fans. Through the years I've seen most of his films, and been very entertained by them. After seeing most of Smith's films I have formed an opinion about him as an artist. Now I don't want to cause a huge debate on this, but Kevin Smith as a filmmaker is so-so. Even he'll admit that to you. It seems as though Smith has made a name for himself, and he himself is a character in his own films. I'm not talking about "Silent Bob" his character in some of his films, but Kevin Smith the writer & director. In a world where self promotion and inventing a persona is everything Kevin Smith is the man. While listening to "Managing the Gray" ,hosted by C.C Chapman, Mr. Chapman said something that made me connect the dots, and that was promoting a brand name. Well in essence Kevin Smith is a brand name. Smith's movies have it's core fan base that will see his films sight unseen, and that's what Kevin Smith has accomplished so well. Using the internet, and his appearances on Late Night television Smith has made his name into a "brand name". Smith's loyal fan base is of those who share a FU mentality to established institutions. It's generation X, and Smith has taped that market and made it his own.

So after reviewing Clerks again on DVD in it's 10th anniversary edition I had to really admire Smith's bravado, and his balls to the wall way of filmmaking. In the commentary track Smith tells his audience the trials and tribulations of guerilla filmmaking. It's not a very good looking film, but the style, and the look is what makes Clerks work. Had Smith gone with his original ending we probably would not be talking about Kevin Smith, and his movies. He has learned on each of his films, and yet kept his core fans happy. Kevin Smith is a model of good marketing & savvy media manipulation. 20 or 30 years from now though there will be someone else who will be the "Kevin Smith" of their time.
And where will Kevin Smith be? I'm sure he'll re-invent himself and hopefully still be making movies, or perhaps his future lies in TV.

All I know is that way back in 1994 a filmmaker burst on to the scene that convinced me that with a little luck and a lot of HARD work you can buck the odds, and possibly make a living at doing something you loved. The scene has changed a lot since then, but a film can connect to its audience and propel the maker of that film into the Hollywood scene. It's just a matter of promotion, and the message you want to send. Kevin Smith has been playing that game well, and a lesson can be learned from him. SO where will I be on July 21st, 2006? Where else. Watching "Clerks 2".

1 comment:

C.C. Chapman said...

Seeing my name along side one of my all time favorite directors made my day! Kevin Smith gets branding. He does it very well. And he writes amazingly funny movies!