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An Afternoon with Kevin Smith

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Warning! This column contains a few naughty words and a tiny spoiler for Clerks II!

I remember when I first saw Clerks. It was a very long time ago. I originally rented it because my favorite band, Bad Religion, was on the soundtrack. Man, was I pleased it didn’t suck!

I’ve been a fan of Kevin Smith ever since. I met him once before when he went to the Orlando MegaCon in 2002. So, when I heard Smith was going to be doing a Q&A here in Orlando I knew I had to attend. I called all of my friends and tried to assemble a huge group to go. How many actually went with me? One: my dear friend Monica.

The event was being held by Florida’s Future Filmmakers, an organization that assists Florida residents trying to getting into movies. I thought they might have been shooting themselves in the foot when they made the admission $35, but man was I wrong. There must have been close to a thousand people there. It was an all-day event really. It started with a screening of the tenth anniversary DVD of Clerks. After that there were a bunch of sponsors available for future movie-makers to make connections with.

After waiting in line for what seemed like forever, Monica and I were finally led into the room. Quickly, the seats were filled up. Unbeknownst to me Florida’s Future Filmmakers was holding a contest for filmmakers and giving a prize package worth over $50,000. We even got to see the winning short film, which was really good, much to my surprise. All the talking and back-patting was taking a bit too long for me though. I wanted to get on to the main event!

When Kevin Smith finally took the stage, the crowd erupted. A local design school called Full Sail designed a backdrop for the stage made to look like the Clerks Quick Stop and RST Video. Kevin remarked on how he’s never had a backdrop for a Q&A and he was impressed.

Immediately, the question lines began to form. Now, unlike 99.8% of the room (including Monica) I have not seen the An Evening with Kevin Smith DVD. Only a couple scenes here and there. But I noted that Kevin has a tendency to 1. Answer very honestly and 2. Tell very elaborate stories. Now that’s not to say they’re long, I found his stories to be very engrossing and I never got bored with listening. All month I had been planning what question I might ask, but after seeing how long the lines were, I knew I wasn’t going to get my question answered. And it wasn’t because the event would end before he got to me, but simply because I would probably have to leave before it was over.

The crowd did have some great questions, and more importantly, Kevin had some great answers too. Kevin was asked if there was any future for the Clerks cartoon. Kevin told us that they were planning a feature length animated film and it would go straight to DVD. The title is Clerks: Sellout, and in it Dante and Randal make an independent movie about working in a convenience store and win awards for it.

Knowing that Kevin is a big Superman fan, one fan asked his opinion on Superman Returns. The scribe/director remarked it reminded him of church because it had lots of Christ imagery and it was boring. He was angered that Superman didn’t get to punch anything. He did say, however, that the film was much better than he could have done.

When one fan asked him if he would ever make a comic movie Kevin said no. He feels that if he were to make a comic movie he would then negate his right to make fun of crappy comic movies.

As one of many aspiring filmmakers in the room, I found Kevin’s stories about the industry to be especially interesting. He explained that when making a film you have to choose your battles wisely when dealing with executive producers and financers. Often times it’s best to let little things go and save your arguments for the big things. The example he gave was a suggestion that was made by Harvey Weinstein for Clerks 2. In the scene where Elias tells Randal about his girlfriend’s pussy troll (Mr. Pillowpants), Weinstein insisted that they somehow film a pussy troll. Kevin and his producer Scott Mosier fought over the idea and were against it. They decided they were going to construct a giant wooden labia and dress up Jason Mewes as a troll. Eventually the idea was scrapped and the scene remained as Kevin had intended it.

We were also clued into Kevin’s plans for his next film. But don’t expect it to be something like his other movies, this one’s going to be a horror flick. Smith explained it won’t be like the slick, stylized horror films that have been made popular as of late. He plans to make a film more like the horror films he grew up with in the ‘70s.

The highlight of the event for me was when one fan asked if Kevin would leave her outgoing message on her voicemail. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but this is pretty close, “Hi, thank you for calling _____. This is Kevin Smith. If you saw Jersey Girl you should be able to understand why I’ve been reduced to leaving people’s voicemail messages. Leave a message after the beep and _____ will call you back. P.S., _____ loves it up the ass.” I couldn’t tell if the girl was offended or not, but I mean, come on. What did she expect? Has she seen any of Kevin’s movies?

So, all in all it was a great time. Monica and I had a blast even though we didn’t get to ask any questions. The lines were just too long. I’m sure the event was quite a success for Florida’s Future Filmmakers. I wonder who they will bring in next! A big thanks to FFF, especially Kelly. You guys pulled off a great event. To find out more about Florida’s Future Filmmakers, go to www.floridafilmmakers.com. And obviously, thanks to Kevin Smith for helping out FFF and coming to Orlando. Keep up the great work.

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