(Warning: This article will contain some spoilers for previously released Kevin Smith films.)
In 1994, 24-year-old Kevin Smith released his first film — a low budget, indie flick called Clerks. Shot in black-and-white to capture the visual feel of closed circuit TV, the movie is about Dante and Randal (a convenience and video store clerk, respectively) having to work on their day off.
Now, writer and filmmaker Christopher Downie is releasing a (fittingly) independent movie about the making of Clerks. However, it is not a documentary, but a narrative based on the true events. Think more Saving Mr. Banks than Hearts of Darkness. Check out the trailer below:
I don't love this trailer, but it certainly feels like a tale worth telling, and I'll see it for that reason. Having said that, this is an ideal time for this story to be told, and here's why:
It's been more than 20 years since Clerks, and 10 years since Clerks II.
Smith has had a long and storied career in Hollywood, even though he’s remained mostly independent (save for Cop Out, and some episodes of television he’s directed). Clerks is now 22 years old, and Clerks II has reached a decade. While it would have been cool for this flick to be released on the 20th anniversary of Clerks, it wouldn’t make sense to rush it, and it would make even less sense to push it back for the 25th anniversary. Moreover, Smith himself has just released his latest film Yoga Hosers (more on that later), and is as much a part of the film culture discussion as he’s ever been.
Shooting Clerks Will Show Smith's Humble Beginnings
Shooting Clerks is about the proto-Smith. His early films were light on premise — two guys at work (Clerks), or two guys at the mall (Mallrats) — and heavy on dialogue.
As his career progressed, Smith expanded his wheelhouse considerably. Dialogue has never taken a backseat in his films, but it has become considerably less important than it was in his early days. This isn’t a criticism.
As his audience (and therefore, his budgets) grew, he had the ability to go deeper on premise (Dogma is in no way just about a couple of dudes at work), hire actors that people knew and respected, and include whacky (and obviously more expensive) visuals. His films no longer need to really rely on smart dialogue alone to sell themselves.
Indeed, as the years have gone by, his films have become more varied, and more crazy. In fact, Clerks II was his last movie that was clearly situated in the View Askiewniverse. Since then, he’s made Zack and Miri Make a Porno, the studio picture Cop Out (the only film he’s directed that he did not write), the 2011 horror film Red State, and, most recently, he’s begun work on what he calls his True North Trilogy. This is a trilogy of horror-comedies that all take place in Canada.
The series began with 2014’s incredibly bizarre (and thoroughly enjoyable) Tusk (a film in which one man surgically transforms another man into a walrus), continues with the recently released Yoga Hosers (about two convenience store clerks, and, you know, sentient Nazi bratwursts), and will conclude with Moose Jaws.
This film is purportedly to be exactly what it sounds like — Jaws, but with a moose instead of a shark.
Basically, the guy has gone batsh*t crazy, for better or for worse. It will be a nice juxtaposition to see a (somewhat fictionalized) version of Smith at the beginning of his career, before he lost his often brilliant mind.
Looking Back At His Early Days, Before He Became The Smith Corporation
Further to the above point, this film will show Smith as a simple indie filmmaker, maxing out his credit cards and borrowing money just to make what became a seminal independent film.
Since then, the man has branched out considerably. Not only does he continue to write and direct films, he’s also a podcaster extraordinaire, frequently posting shows like Fatman on Batman (with Marc Bernardin), and Hollywood Babble-On (with Ralph Garman) under the Smodcast umbrella.
He’s directed episodes of The Flash. He’s written comic books, like Batman: The Widening Gyre. He travels around North America for his live talks, often referred to as An Evening With Kevin Smith, where he takes questions and tells stories for an hour or two, always bringing his verbose and undeniably charming (and filthy) wit.
Additionally, he’s a husband and father. He even cast his daughter, Harley Quinn Smith in a cameo in Tusk, as well as a lead role in Yoga Hosers.
In many ways, Smith has become a corporation of his own, though he has retained his indie status. An independent corporation doesn’t make any kind of actual sense, and yet it applies perfectly to him. To see his latest flick Yoga Hosers back-to-back with a film about his early days will be fascinating to say the least. Even if Shooting Clerks is terrible. Admittedly, I can't wait to hear Smith's audio commentary on this film about his life, as we all know that it will happen.
Are you excited for Shooting Clerks? What’s your favorite Kevin Smith film, podcast, comic, etc.? Whatever your thoughts, hit the comments below and let’s discuss! Thank you for reading!