Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back... these are just a few of the films known by one of the biggest independent filmmakers of all time, #KevinSmith. Most of all, though, Smith is responsible for creating the cult classic Clerks.
The black and white comedic film took off after it was played at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival. Smith's movies have become a staple in the world of independent filmmaking ever since, inspiring independent filmmakers — literally, in the case of new biopic film Shooting Clerks, which is set to be released at the Orlando Film Festival on October 22, 2016 (meeting the 10-year anniversary of Clerks II).
The film uses actors to depict the true story of how convenience store clerk Kevin Smith made his first film with maxed-out credit cards, and the people who aided him in his indie crusade. Check out the #ShootingClerks trailer:
UK writer and director Christopher Downie of Auld Reekie Media has already made several short films based off of Smith (Emo Kev, Get Greedo). This time, however, he decided to collaborate with American filmmaker and Kevin Smith fan Ryan James — and his production company Pink Plaid — to tell the full story of how Kevin Smith and his legendary film Clerks came to be.
We had the chance to sit down with James on the making of Shooting Clerks. A lifelong fan of Smith, James revealed how Shooting Clerks allowed him to follow in the footsteps of his idol to help create his first feature-length film. For the fans and by the fans, this black-and-white biopic earned these independent filmmakers a chance to showcase their own talent that would surely make Smith proud.
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Here are some fun facts we learned about Shooting Clerks.
They Follow The 'Kevin Smith Model
Aside from filming the biopic in black and white, the filmmakers dug deep into their own pockets to make this film a reality — just like how Smith funded his film (which ended up costing about $27,000) by using credit cards and selling his own comic book collection.
The filmmakers for Shooting Clerks used crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo and maxed out their own credit cards to bring the story to the big screen. As James told us, "We used the same DIY approach that Clerks had at its disposal: low-to-no budget, the most accessible cameras and equipment, called in favors, and funded the film ourselves."
They're Taking It To Film Festivals First, Just Like 'Clerks'
Despite his first two Kevin Smith-inspired films, James tells us that this is director Downie's first film festival. In retrospect, Clerks received the "Filmmakers Trophy" at the Sundance Film Festival and also garnered the "Award of the Youth" and the "Mercedes-Benz Award" at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. So the film festival circuit seems like the best place for the up-and-coming filmmakers of Shooting Clerks.
What's even more incredible about this film is that Downie and James were able to land featured screenings at three separate festivals. The premiere will be played at the Orlando Film Festival, followed by New York’s Anthology Film Archives, and ending at the Atlantic Cinemas 5 in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey (which is actually where Smith used to watch films growing up).
"Kevin gives us our own rein to tell his story because we've proven ourselves with the prequel shorts that originally caught his attention," James says.
They Filmed In The Same Locations As 'Clerks'
Despite Downie and James being an ocean apart, they were able to team up to make this film possible. From sending files and co-editing to hunting down new actors, the dynamic duo were so enthused by the prospect of Shooting Clerks that they were able to administer a Kevin Smith-endorsed film.
James not only produced the film, but he used his own crew of local movie masterminds and paid his way to shoot for the film in New Jersey and Florida. James's small crew of five went to New Jersey so that they could film in all the same locations as the original film. Enlisting in the help of his closest friends and local film schools, the team spent five 18-hour days shooting on location so that their film would present an authentic Clerks feel.
'Shooting Clerks' Brings Back Original Cast Members
James was responsible for getting ahold of and directing the Clerks cameos (that's right, you'll be seeing some familiar faces). He revealed that Marilyn Ghigliotti, who plays Veronica in the original Clerks, comes back as a journalist in the new film. Brian O'Halloran (a.k.a Dante in Clerks) is studio head Elis Heimermann in Shooting Clerks.
You also may have recognized the man telling the story in the Shooting Clerks trailer as John Willyung (Cohee Lundin of "Fingercuffs fame" in Chasing Amy). Walter Flanagan of Comic Book Men will also make a cameo. Flanagan appears in nearly all of Smith's films, so it's only fitting that he's in a movie about Kevin Smith making a movie.
James was able to bring cameos to the film after establishing acquaintances as a member of Smith's own hockey team. This unique opportunity gave James access to these celebrity contacts. After spending ample time and energy on street games, he was able to encourage the original cast to appear in the film.
There will be well over 12 cameos from the original cast in this biopic comedy, including Kevin Smith himself. The filmmakers even get to work with Indie film legend Bob Hawk (who is credited with discovering Clerks) at the world premiere of Shooting Clerks.
There Will Be A Ton Of 'Clerks' Easter Eggs
Besides the original cast members appearing in the film, there will be a plethora of Easter eggs to look out for in Shooting Clerks. Veronica's trademark jacket from Clerks appears in the film, alongside a variety of other original props and wardrobe from the first film.
Audiences will also catch a glimpse of James and Downie in their first feature-length film. They serve as director, editor, and actor extraordinaires, done in true Kevin Smith fashion.
It's clear that this film will be a turning point for filmmakers Downie and James, along with the rest of their crew. They have had the chance of a lifetime and have provided an incredible first feature-length film. Including the striking similarities between their own filmmaking journey and Smith's, Shooting Clerks promises to bring audiences the true Kevin Smith story.
"Shooting Clerks puts a spotlight on the Kevin Smith independent filmmaker before his success as an entertainment mogul." James tells us. "The film takes true and untold stories told by Kevin himself, various cast members and friends who were there and grew up with Kevin, podcasts, filmmaker commentaries, published books, personal diaries and behind the scenes documentaries. I mean, after all, 'It's about making a movie with your friends.'"
Is Clerks your favorite Kevin Smith movie? Tell us in the comments below!