“If you don’t like Kevin Smith, this movie will trigger the f*ck out of you.”
Kevin Smith has always opted for doing things outside of the box. Starting with being one of the first interactive directors on the Internet, long before Twitter, he has always seemed to be one step ahead of where the game is. As a filmmaker, one can imagine there’s no greater high than opening a film on 3,000 screens and having everyone see your masterpiece at once. However, somewhere along the way, Kevin Smith realized this wasn’t the road he wanted to take.
So for his new film, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, he has opted to take his new film out on the road with a 62 city tour that started this past Saturday. This way, he can bring the film directly to his fans with a post-Q and A, for anyone that didn’t catch one of the Fathom Events screening last week or simply wants to see it again. And after the tour leaves each city, it opens wide in that market.
This is something that harkens back to the old days of the movie roadshow, where certain big blockbusters would hit the road from city to city with their star in tow. You could actually be in the middle of Iowa and Jerry Lewis may come by to introduce his movie. It’s a practice not really done a whole lot these days, which is why we’ve got guys like Kevin Smith to do so.
Below is our part two of our two part epic interview with Kevin Smith, with part one available to find here. It is fitting that such an epic movie full of amazing cameos would give way to such an epic showcasing of the film which then gives way to such an epic 45 minute interview. Believe it or not, Kevin Smith is way more of a showman than he would lead you to believe.
You have often talked in interviews about how this is the “same movie twice,” but it’s honestly quite different in many ways. Is there anything in that first movie that makes you cringe or stuff you wish you did differently?
Oh my God. First, when I look at my entire career I f*cking cringe. But for the reasons of “Ah I didn’t know what I was doing.” But nothing content wise. Everything is a product of where you were at the time. But the thing is, if I made Reboot and there’s still cringe moments, then that’s problematic. It’s like “Oh, you haven’t learned anything.” So part of the fun of doing the sequel was dragging those characters into the future. We didn’t view them through quite the same prism as like Archie Bunker, but in the story we were like “Well, these two cats are old. Everyone else is young.” So they’re gonna be exposed to woke culture for the first time in their 25 years cinematic history. And so we were able to have fun with that while still able to have it be a part of the actual plot. And so because of that, the whole story is about how these dudes get dragged into the present, really. But most of my humor is always directed inward, not outward. I’m not the attack guy. So I didn’t have “Oh there’s a bunch of people I’ve got to apologize to.” Most of my humor I just make fun of myself. And I don’t have to apologize to myself. I can take it, especially if I’m dishing it out. So I don’t have much to dish out. Because I couldn’t take it from anybody else. I’ve got low self-esteem. But if you make fun of yourself first, people tend not to follow along. “Oh well he already said it.” So I benefited a little bit from making fun of me and my world as opposed to making fun of others or attacking others.
And that really shows. The movies never really punch down. Maybe at themselves.
There you go. Exactly. That’s an expression that we hear so much more. I think prior to the last two months, punching down was something maybe I heard it twice over the course of my life, but now it’s become a frequently used expression.
Well it was that Carlin interview from Larry King in the 90’s that started circulating.
Such a great piece. I loved that man to death, it goes without saying. He was the smartest man I ever met. And some people misread that quote completely. They were going “Hey man, he was talking about how there’s no lines, there’s no lines.” And it’s like that’s not who George was. That’s gotta be where it came from, because I remember when that clip started recirculating, I got misty. Every once in a while he reenters the online conversation and people go “Remember? God he was so smart. I wish he were still around. He’d really give it to today’s politicians.” And he wouldn’t have. He didn’t really work that stuff. At one point I remember he talked about rockets and penises and the Persian Golf. But he didn’t punch down, he wasn’t really political. He was more about all of them, everyone, the structure, those in power. He did not punch down. Unless your name was Skip. Because he did have that f*cking bit “People I can do without. Guys who are named Skip.” There’s a lot of Skip’s out there who are like “Unnecessary, George.”
And going back to the movie, I’m going to get really meta. There’s this part in the movie that’s incredibly meta, where Kevin Smith is the director of the fictional film Bluntman V Chronic. At what point did you decide you want to put yourself in the Askewniverse? And in that universe, did Kevin Smith make Clerks?
In that universe, Kevin Smith’s big debut film is Bussing [side note: This was an unproduced script the real Kevin Smith wrote for Hollywood Pictures in 1995]. And it lead to other opportunities. Kevin Smith in that world directed every movie that’s not a View Askew movie. So it’s this weird career that goes from Bussing to Cop Out to Tusk to Yoga Hosers. It takes this weird 12-18 year jump and doesn’t reference all the movies that were inside.
But I became a character in the movie because Stan Lee passed away. Stan was our third act man. So he was the guy onstage that they were after. He was the whole third act including a Rogue One scene where he takes out a hallway full of Cock-knockers using the force. Just breaking necks and cutting people open and stuff like that. So Stan was meant to be our third act guy and unfortunately Stan passed.
So at that point I was like “Oh no. Well who can fill those shoes?” And I didn’t have anybody who could fill those shoes. But I do have a guy who I have access to every day, who is well known in pop culture, who I can make fun of constantly and who would never be offended by it or have his feelings hurt, I’m not gonna inconvenience him by bringing him down to New Orleans because he’s gonna be down there every day directing the movie anyway. So I was like “Hey man, I’ll use me. I could be a character, especially since all I’m gonna do is make fun of him.” And it’ll allow me to make a bunch of Kevin Smith jokes and sh*t like that.
So it became sort of practical at first. Like “We don’t have Stan. I’ve got to reshape the third act.” And it’s like Who can they want to kill? Who can they want to take out and be a villain?” And I was like “Oh me.” And I get to make some Yoga Hoser jokes. So it was more necessity than anything else.
But I’ll be honest with you, I had a f*cking blast doing it. If anybody asks me “How come Silent Bob doesn’t give a big speech like he does in the other movies?” It was like “Well Kevin Smith kind of takes care of all the talking in this movie. (Laughs). I don’t think Silent Bob needs the big sum up.” Like Ben in fact has the big sum up speech which sends our heroes into the third act.
But yeah it is lots of Kevin Smith. If you don’t like Kevin Smith, this movie will trigger the f*ck out of you. You can’t escape him. When he’s not playing Silly Bob, he’s playing himself. When he’s not playing himself, Ben Affleck is playing a version of him as Holden McNeil. So you can’t escape Kevin Smith. My mother’s favorite movie of all the movies I’ve made. Because I’m all over it. She’s like “Oh my god, tiger, you’re all over the movie.” Because she loves her son so she’s big into that.
I feel like it works well with you sort of at the center of it. It makes sense.
But yeah I’m curious to see… This was always conceived as a movie for fans. Look, everything I’ve ever done has been conceived as a movie for fans after a certain point. Except Clerks. Clerks certainly wasn’t. I didn’t know I had fans. Mallrats kind of wasn’t because we didn’t we had fans because we were just coming off of an indie hit which never played on more than 50 screens. Chasing Amy forward let me know that there were actual fans to play to. So by the time we made Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, we were making a fan film for fans. It’s not like you could convince people cold to go into that movie. It was predicated on four movies that had come before it to some degree. Like “These characters were in four other movies.” And yes, it is its own adventure, but how do you get people to walk into it cold?
So same thing here. With Reboot, we had no allusions of like “We’re gonna bring in the f*cking teenagers.” They’re gonna go like “What? Who are these old men?” Who we’re going after, of course, a lot of people grew up watching our stuff.
Like we know there’s an audience. We go out there and see them all the time because we tour. Like 365 days of the year almost. Like they’re onstage doing solo shows by myself, or Hollywood Babble-On with Ralph Garman, or Smodcast sometimes with [Scott] Mosier, but mostly Jay and Silent Bob Get Old with Jay. So we’re used to going out into the live world all the time and talk to people. We sit there and tell stories about the old movies. So one day I was like “Look if we were in a new movie, we could do the same thing. We could come out and the people who pay the same exact price to see us talk to each other without a movie would pay this to see us with a movie as well. And because of that touring audience that we’ve built over the past 25 years, they were a factor in us even being able to make this movie in the first place.” Nobody’s f*cking banging on our doors like “We need a Jay and Silent Bob sequel.” I wanted it. Jay wanted it. But you’ve got to make it work for everybody else financially and stuff. So what we were able to bring to the table was “Okay, we could cover a certain amount of the budget by taking the movie out and touring it.” So like Saban [films] has 40 percent of the budget because they’ve got the domestic rights. Universal’s got the other 40 percent because they’ve got the overseas rights. And then you’ve got 20 percent of equity, real money in order to get your budget put together. We can only do that because I guarantee them “Look if we take this movie out and tour it when it’s done, we can cover this.” Rather than doing a Kickstarter or Indiegogo like “Hey audience give us money,” I was like “No, our tour will pay for this. Equity.” So once we get the equity in, we could pay the equity investors back. This is the name of the game indie filmmaking. If you pay back your investors, that gives you a chance to do this again in the future. We’re going to be able to pay ours back one year after we started shooting the movie. That’s like unheard of.
And the audiences have everything to do with that. I couldn’t have done this without knowing that I could take it to the people and they will pay $50-$100 bucks to watch the movie. They could pay like normal price for the Fathom Events screenings on the 15th and 17th. But on the tour, it’s like “We’re used to seeing Kevin and Jay every year anyway. This year they finally got a new movie as opposed to talking about the old movies.” And so because of that audience, we were able to go forward. If I don’t have a touring audience, with the podcast that we built, me and Jay over the past 5-10 years, we don’t get to make this movie. So it has everything to do with the fan base. And when you’re doing that, you realize “We’re making a movie for fans,” there’s a lot that you can let go of. You don’t have to like explain who these guys are. You’re working with all the familiarity that people have with these characters. And back in the day they would always try figure out how to sell my movies to strangers. “How do we we get people who aren’t into Kevin Smith movies to come into this?” I never understood that. Like why? Let’s just make it for the Kevin Smith people that are coming, man. And if the budgets aren’t enough, if it’s not enough to cover who’s coming to see the movie, we’ll just drop the budget. We’ll make it lower so that we could just keep doing this on our own and stuff. So I need the fan base, and not just because they’re the ones that watch it and shit like that. But they help me secure the future in this case. There is no Reboot unless I can count on them coming out to the tour, which they pre sold us like crazy, man. And we’ve been proven right by the whole thing.
I’m going to spend 62 dates on the road watching this movie. And everybody keeps apologizing to me, like Jordan [Monsanto, producer], who’s like “Sorry it’s a lot of work.” It’s like “That’s not a lot of work. This is the dream. Getting to sit down with 62 different audiences who, for them, this movie is their religion? It’s not like they’re just walking into the movie like ‘Lets check it out. This or the other movie is fine.’ This is the movie that they’re like ‘Oh my god. This is my Mecca. This is my Star Wars.’” So I don’t have the world, but I definitely have enough people who are into our bullsh*t that I can keep my bullsh*t going 25 years into it and stuff. And if you can make that happen, against all odds, that inspires people. Where people are like “Hey if you could still make this Jay and Silly Bob sh*t work, it’s possible I can get my sh*t going on.”
How are things going with the Clerks Animated Series which you teased earlier this year at Comic Con?
Here’s my dream. I’m working on something right now with Netflix. This Masters of the Universe program. And it’s been going really, really well. So once we’re all done and all the scripts are turned in and Powerhouse Animation is now taking over and it’s all about animating and stuff, hopefully everyone’s happy with what we’ve done so far. And when inevitably the conversation happens when they’re like “Hey, do you have any ide…,” they won’t get to finish that question before I go “Clerks cartoon.” Because it’s so easy to pull off, it’s good IP where people are like “Oh, I know Clerks and I like that cartoon.” Like remember how they cancelled Family Guy and after a few DVDs Family Guy came back? They cancelled our sh*t in 2000. If I can make the Clerks cartoon come back in 2020, that’s a little magic trick that gives my f*cking bullsh*t a little more gas to lead to a little more life. Because I’m not talented, they won’t look to me like “Show me a breakthrough.” They look to see what magic tricks you can provide. My whole life is doing magic tricks, the first one being Clerks. It’s like pulling a quarter out of someone’s f*cking ear. So if I can like do this weird little magic trick where they’re like “Are you kidding me? 20 years later bear is going to be driving again?” It just makes your tail a little longer. You’ve just got to give people something to inspire people. And that’s what I get the most from people online about my career. Like “Man, nobody gives a f*ck but you just keep going. You’ll find a way to make it happen, even if the whole world is not interested in what you’re doing at that point.”
So like for me, I feel like everything’s lining up for me to walk in and be like “Can we do this?” And now that we’re doing the movie it’d be a nice hand off from one to the other as well. Fingers crossed, man.
Here’s another. Dave, who I did the Clerks cartoon with, Dave Mandel he just closed up the last 3 years of Veep and now he’s a big deal at HBO. So that’s another place to be like “Dave, let’s do Clerks here.” That’s a possibility as well. I’ve seen so many other things come to life, and that wasn’t insanely well known the Clerks cartoon, but people who knew it really loved it. And it did have a cool pedigree with like Paul Dini worked on our second episode. And Brian Kelley went on to work on The Simpsons for like a decade. Dave went onto Veep. But I think it’s doable. I think you can bring it back to life. And in a world where it’s animated, it doesn’t even matter how old we all are. I just hope that if it happens, they cast me to play Silent Bob.
Information on the Reboot Roadshow tour can be found at http://www.rebootroadshow.com