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Kevin Smith on Celebrity Kickstarters: 'Leave It to People Who Really Need It'

Kevin SmithWhether or not you feel that people with so-called access to funding should be staying away from Kickstarter, the continued impact of crowdfunding on the world of filmmaking is fascinating to watch. Some of the recent big name crowdfunding campaigns have received criticism, and while many think it’s a good this for all of us, Kevin Smith has other ideas, stating that it’s “not fair to real indie filmmakers who need the help.” A recent interview with Smith on KCRW’s The Business reveals more of Smith’s thoughts on the issue and his plan to finance his final film in CLERKS III without the use of crowdfunding. Hit jump to find out more.

Whether or not we can define yet what constitutes a ‘real indie filmmaker,’ Smith seems to believe that people in a position like his don’t really need to use crowdfunding:

Unlike back when I made CLERKS in ’91, I’ve GOT access to money now — so I should use that money and not suck any loot out of the crowdfunding marketplace that might otherwise go to some first-timer who can really use it.

Kevin Smith almost beat the Kickstarter-scene to the punch in 2009 when he set himself up to crowdfund his film Red State, but some scathing criticism caused him to pull the plug on his campaign:

Some unrelated blogger said something like “Kevin Smith is gonna start begging for his next movie.” The moment I saw that, I froze. I called John Gordon and I said, “We gotta pull the plug. Some dude online called me a beggar.” I can’t even remember the website, or the person that wrote it, but I do remember that was the last moment in my life where I let some outsider shape my point of view. I was on to a good idea — but I chickened out.

Smith admits his film career is dying down, but he wants to make one final feature film, CLERKS III. He nearly launched a Kickstarter for it 2012, but backed down from that as well, afraid to “soak up” resources that would otherwise go to presumably younger and less financially solvent filmmakers. He’s not condemning those bigger-named people who have done it, but he’s not gonna do it that way, even after saying his campaign could easily raise $5-7 million.

I applaud people who want to do it, but for me personally, if I don’t have enough money to make a movie on my own that’s small, that is just people talking to each other — we’re not talking about Avengers or something like that — then I must have failed somewhere in my career — if I don’t have enough access to the meager amounts that it’s gonna take to make a talkey story anymore. That would mean I had fundamentally lost my way.

Kevin Smith Silent Bob

Smith feels a sense of ‘symmetry’ in paying for CLERKS III on his own, as he paid for CLERKS himself, which was made for just $27,000 in 1991. He always seems to be a little ahead of the curve in terms of embracing new technologies and new ways to create and distribute films. I like that in the interview he admits how little money it takes these days to be able to go out and shoot a film. He talks about kids that have gone out and shot horror features for $1,700 that look ‘viable.’

Of all people, Kevin Smith should be philosophically behind that idea of going out there and making your movie yourself, on your own terms. And when you do it with your own money, it awards you freedoms that larger budgets don’t often offer. Perhaps ironically, this seems to be the very reason projects like Veronica Mars and I Wish I Was Here ended up using crowdfunding options. We’re seeing a theme here: less studio controlled pictures, more control for the artist.

I think one of Smith’s greatest strength is that he knows who he is. He recognizes that he probably isn’t going to go out and make some masterpiece movie — he just wants to make one more with all of his friends. So, Kevin Smith will indeed gift upon us one last CLERKS film, and with his views on big-name crowdfunding in mind – would you buy a ticket? Share your thoughts below.



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  • I absolutely would like to see it. I personally think Smith gets way more flack than he deserves, especially when there are far worse people out there that seem to get free passes.

    • vinceGortho on 07.2.13 @ 12:33PM

      Smith’s problem always seems to be lack of confidence and taking too much stock in what critics or no name bloggers have to say.

  • You can think about celebs crowdfunding their films in two ways:

    1. The amount of money funders can spend on kickstarter is finite, so if celebs take some of it there is less for the rest.
    2. The crowds need to be much larger so filmmakers can make a living of crowdfunded films. Celebs help to attract more funders. This leads to more exposure to indie filmmakers.

    Not sure how it will work out but I personally tend to #2

    • I think most of the guys doing the crowdfunding are also realistic that their films aren’t going to get country wide show time on all the major theaters. A film by Kevin Smith, the Veronica Mars folks, etc, will be shown on theaters in every major city. That’s where these guys will make their money. Most of the crowdfunding indie films are passion projects that otherwise wouldn’t get made because they won’t make some production company millions at the box office. There was a article on NFS a couple weeks ago with Spielberg even saying that the production companies won’t take risks anymore, and it’ll be tough for even him to get some things greenlit going forward…and he’s fracking Steven Spielberg. If that dude can’t get a project greenlit, it’s going to be very hard for your average indie film maker to get theirs going. That’s what crowdfunding is for. It’s for those guys, and I think Kevin Smith really gets that.

  • I’ll definitely see Clerks III. Huge fan of Kevin Smith’s. Is he the most gifted director? Nope. Does he make cinematic masterpieces? No again. But the dude writes stuff that resonates with me on a comedic level. I love dick and fart jokes, and this cat writes some of the best stuff out there. He’s definitely a better writer and speaker then he is a “film maker”, as is evidenced by his comic book creds and his sold out shows wherever he speaks. But I’ve still enjoyed pretty much every movie he’s made, yes…even Jersey Girl.

  • vinceGortho on 07.2.13 @ 12:24PM

    The only way I would ever watch the new Star Wars would be if Kevin Smith directed it.

    • I don’t think I’d want him directing it, but I’d def want him in on it. He even admits he’s not a great director. He’d have some great ideas, and some good script changes, but I don’t think he’d even want to direct.

  • Hollywood millionaires begging for money (actually, in most cases it’s just begging for publicity, it seems) piss me off, because they completely screw up the whole point of the thing- supporting people who NEED the help. And of course, since everyone’s a starfucker, especially the Kickstarter people (and why wouldn’t they be? They get a cut of everything!), everybody gets all thrilled that their little passion project is on the same begging platform as an ex-TV star’s. BFD. In the end, what’s lost is a noble idea, a sense of community, supporting the underdog true indies out there, whether one’s an inventor or a filmmaker, and turning what could have been cool into yet another celebrity suckfest.

    And Kevin Smith rocks.

  • I’m on the fence as far as name people using crowdfunding to get movies made. Yes, there have been some very high profile names and projects in the last year but in the grand scale of things, these projects are anomalies and definitely not a trend. If celebrities with high profile projects took over Kickstarter and Indiegogo then I would have a problem but as it stands right now, it’s a good thing.

    We all know about crowdfunding because we’re filmmakers and are in what’s going on out there. The average person however, is not and most people have never heard of crowdfunding or the likes of Kickstarter etc. Therefore projects that are run by celebrities and that get a lot of publicity are good for all of us as they bring exposure to our own projects.

    Kudos to Kevin Smith on having principles and everything but at the same time, if his fans want to see him make a movie and are willing to contribute to make it happen then what’s the big deal? It’s like he would be forcing them to donate. Is it really any different than years past when it was common for artists to have their work paid for by patrons who wanted to support creative endeavors?

  • on the one hand should celebrities be involved..well they do get funded quick and hire crew …independent crews working for less it does help…from that standpoint..and also they get more people looking at the site…like now for instance

  • Having written my dissertation on the subject more than a year ago now, I came to a conclusion that it doesn’t matter at all how many people are crowdfunding. The idea that there is a finite amount of possible projects is very naive and superficial; there are a dozen or more high-turnover cf sites and all of them with their own respective models and user groups. Besides, different celebrities and/or normal users have wildly varying audiences and thus unique projects will stand out (if they succeed to communicate this).

    The ultimate point of cf for me is that democratically funded projects will get the go ahead, as opposed to tired-out, thoughtless vanity projects with too much bulk funding. This dodsn’t mean everything one might think should get funded does – but those that the public wants to see get made.

  • reminds me about this talk

  • kickstarted100andcounting on 07.2.13 @ 4:10PM

    If Kevin Smith is going to give me access to the journey of bringing Clerks III to fruition without asking for anything in return, then I think he’s made the right choice. Otherwise… tell me how much money you need to count me in. It’s not a one way road when it comes to asking your fans for something. Crowdfunding is not begging for money. It’s more akin to the barter system. The unique experiences I’ve been given access to crowdfunding creators of all disciplines has been worth way more than the minuscule support I have provided. And celebrity does not guarantee success on Kickstarter. The project has to have its heart in the right place. Just ask Kenny G.

  • “I know a dude who just won an Oscar”. Well hello Ben!

  • Kevin Smith can make the best out of a blockbuster and of a no-budget indie movie… (I personally prefer his indie stuff, I believe most of us) We all had a laugh on J&B Strike Back, but nothing like Clerks. I do agree in the fact that recognized and award winning directors/producers shouldn’t crowdfund their films, but there is an artist side on people like Smith or even Braff that make them different. I am happy to help funding their films (if I had to choose) cause we all know that the delivery will be what make us like those directors on first place.

    What I’m basically saying is that a movie like Cop Out wouldn’t start a kickstarter project but Clerks 3 is something else. I would like to be a backer for it as I am a backer for Wish I was here. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t back other less known filmmmakers (which I do) It doesn’t have to be a 10 grand donation, the price for a couple of pints by millions of people out there… do your maths! You know someday you’ll start a kickstarter project yourself!

  • I find such arguments irrelevant. It’s the equivalent of complaining about stars that charge for autographs at conventions.

    Who’s to blame? The star that asks for money, or the fans that line up like cattle to give it to them?

  • Sign Me up, I love Clerks one and two. Can’t wait for 3.

  • Clerks III? Only if it’s free on YouTube, where juvenile films without any content belong.

    I turned off Clerks. Would never pay even a dollar for a sequel to a bad sequel of a trite movie with zero imagination. Could never understand paying money to watch on TV what you can see live at Walmart everyday.

  • Would definitely love to see a third Clerks. As #2 was my favorite film of that year. Really cracks me up. Kevin should NEVER let some shithead make him think he’s a beggar. Has he asked the kid what he’s been doing lately? As I doubt the kid that called him a beggar isn’t doing anything. Listen ONLY to the ones who are doing it.

  • but he wants to make one final feature film, CLERKS III. He nearly launched a Kickstarter for it 2012,

  • The original idea of Kickstarter is to bring out up-and-coming filmmakers and not Hollywood millionaires who can get their funding anyway, if they really want it. Maybe those celebrities should just help independent filmmakers with the pitch. Now that would be really something.

  • I don’t think its selfish in the slightest that celebs use crowdfunding to help fund there films! I actually think its a great idea as then there fans can feel they have contributed to the film which is being made. I’m currently trying to raise money to fund my dissertation short film and yes i’m not famous so not many people have contributed and itis difficult to find people who will but if Kevin Smith was to ask me to put money towards one of his films I 100% would! James Franco has recently done it for various projects and he makes good use of the “perks” featured on such sites as Indiegogo which is a great idea. Here is my little project… Maybe I should see if Kevin Smith will donate lol–2/x/6181505