Kevin Smith on Celebrity Kickstarters: 'Leave It to People Who Really Need It'
Whether 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.
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.
- Kevin Smith on The Business — KCRW
- Kevin Smith Doesn’t Need Your Money Upfront for Clerks III — Film School Rejects