January 5, 2013

Writer/Director Kevin Smith on Filmmaking: You Must Have a 'Reasonable Amount of Unreasonability'

Independent film would probably not have become what it is today without people like Kevin Smith. Whether they actually made things worse for the rest of us because of their success is up for debate, but there is no doubt Smith is one of those few filmmakers in Hollywood who makes exactly the kinds of movies he wants to make (not too dissimilar from Andrei Tarkovsky). In this interview below from Gavin Michael Booth's How Many Days Project, Kevin Smith talks about what it takes to be a filmmaker, the current state of distribution, and what brought him to make Clerks.

Keep in mind this is Kevin Smith, so there is plenty of NSFW language:

Learning to compromise and work with other people is an important part of filmmaking. Unless you are the one throwing down tons of money to make a project and paying everyone well, there is a good chance people may be working for less than they're worth, or even for free. That is just a fact of independent filmmaking. Not all of us can be like Tarkovsky, so you're going to be making compromises on the production and about what's actually possible with the money, time, and equipment you have. Once a movie is done, there will probably be more compromises, from post-production to distribution. I know personally I've had many projects where I've had to cut things on the day of shooting or shoot something completely different because an actor isn't available. Many of these things are daily occurrences, and learning to work through them is important.

Kevin goes on about filmmaking and digital distribution, what it takes to be a filmmaker, and why he made Clerks (keep in mind this interview was made before he did Red State):

Being a filmmaker is certainly not easy, and really, if you've ever heard someone say it is, they're lying. Independent film has a tough road ahead, especially as we figure out how to monetize what we're doing. If no one is making money from independent films (or at least not going into massive debt while making them), all we'll be left with is monster Hollywood movies to entertain us.

What do you think about Kevin Smith's ideas on filmmaking and what it takes to make movies? Has his career inspired you to make movies?

Your Comment

19 Comments

Good stuff, but outdated on the self-distribution front, Smith himself dove deeply into waters he says he knows nothing about shortly after these were filmed.

January 5, 2013

0
Reply
Stuart

Loving these posts lately Joe. Very useful stuff. Keep it up!

January 5, 2013

-1
Reply

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin at SxSW last year with a group of friends/collaborators and it was a real treat. There are a few overlapping answers with these videos. The biggest take away that I had was him talking about never using "aspiring" filmmaker to describe yourself. If you want to be a filmmaker and that is what you're aiming to be, then tell yourself you are one and get on with it already. Very Yoda "do or do not, there is no try."

January 5, 2013

-1
Reply
Anton

I think you should, actually, have to make a film before you call yourself a filmmaker, though.

January 6, 2013

0
Reply
dixter

That's obviously a good point. But the way I took it is that calling yourself and aspiring filmmaker can sometimes cause a mental block that could get in the way of making films, because you can just keep telling yourself you're aspiring and that you aren't ready. I saw it as him just saying make the plunge and go for it, don't just wait around day dreaming of making films.

Now whether someone IS ready when they start making their films, thats a whole other story...

January 6, 2013

1
Reply
Anton

Lets say you shoot your movie using crowd funding or credit cards.
What are some of the first steps or first places you want to send it? Straight to Sundace?
Is there a syntax of festivals you want to submit to in order to so the right people to see it?

January 5, 2013

0
Reply
VINCEGORTHO

Make a cheap horror feature Film and send it to all the genre festivals you can find.

January 5, 2013

-1
Reply

but only if you really want to

January 5, 2013

-3
Reply
brett

"Whether they actually made things worse for the rest of us because of their success is up for debate"

What horse crap, you cant sling that out that because someone finds success in the industry it was bad for filmmakers. Thats the same line of thinking as those friends who when you're out or watching TV get pissed off when they see a new product and say, "HEY THOSE GUYS TOTALLY STOLE MY IDEAD." I'm getting off my pedestal, but you can't blame someone for your own inaction or inability, for whatever that reason may be.

January 6, 2013

0
Reply

@Austin

You're kind of taking Joes line out of context dude. He is pointing out to skip the debate stuff and jump to how he makes the movies he wants to make and then his advice and so on and so forth.

January 6, 2013

1
Reply
Adam

Also, I think Joe was reacting to the line in the interview when Kevin actually says, "Maybe I made it harder for everybody else."

January 6, 2013

-1
Reply

Yes I was, exactly that line.

January 6, 2013

2
Reply
avatar
Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Ah gotcha, I honestly read it, responded, then proceeded to watch. Carry on!

January 6, 2013

-2
Reply

Kevin's advice is solid and is along the lines of what we tell people who come to us. This is really important advice and insight, especially for beginning filmmakers who do have a crusade to "change the world".

January 6, 2013

-1
Reply
DIYFilmSchool.net