October 2, 2019

3 Filmmaking Tips Kevin Smith Gives Us in 'The Making of Tusk'

Five years ago, Kevin Smith went full Walrus and made the movie Tusk. Learn from his successes and mistakes!  

Kevin Smith came into Hollywood as a raconteur who boldly self-funded his first film and was dying for a shot to make his mark and write his own stories. He was able to capitalize on that in the 90s, but a series of shortcomings shelved him in the oughts. 

The past several years he's worked on his own projects, sourcing materials, going on roadshow tours and chasing original ideas, one of which became the very weird but very interesting movie, Tusk.

Tusk was not the critical or fiscal success anyone hoped it would be, but I think there's a lot to glean for filmmakers here. From idea inception to crowdsourcing, there are lots of intelligent tips within Smith's experiences. Plus a bunch of funny jokes. 

Smith celebrated the anniversary by tweeting out a documentary about making the movie. 

Check out this video and let's talk after the jump. 

3 Filmmaking Tips Kevin Smith Gives Us in 'The Making of Tusk'

Tusk stars Justin Long as a podcast producer who heads to the great white north to explore a legend about a man and a walrus. In interviews, Smith says making the film was “one of the most creatively satisfying experiences of my life.” 

In addition to Long, Tusk starred Michael Parks, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, Johnny Depp, Harley Quinn Smith, Lily-Rose Depp, Ralph Garman, Harley Morenstein, and Ashley Greene.

It's a weird little movie that seems like it missed the horror window, which exploded a few years later with Blumhouse. 

Still, Tusk is worth a revisit when it comes to just going out and doing something ambitious, even if the end results don't line up exactly the way you wanted. 

Let's go over some advice we got from Smith's documentary. 

1. Use your commute wisely! 

When you're working on a low budget feature, you might need to cram your prep into a car ride. Do it. Huge features have the luxury of building days or weeks in to plan every detail of every day. You might not have it. Smith didn't have it on Tusk

Instead, he road to set with his entire team. They used the long commute to go over blocking, shots, and any things they needed to set up that day. They also used the time to find a cohesive vision and get to know one another. 

Getting close with your crew is a luxury on a smaller set. 

Take advantage of it while you can, so you can continue hiring the best crews possible. 

2. Be conscious of your actors time and your time on set. 

When you have bigger names working on smaller movies, you want to maximize their time. Get your shots and get them out the door. Each extra day is more and more pay. That means you want to create a sense of ease on set and control. 

And it means you need to make a logical schedule that doesn't cram your days and sets realistic goals. 

If you make set comfortable and well-run, you might get extra out of your crew and cast. 

3. Be weird, man. 

Your most valuable commodity is you. You point of view is the way you see the world. Let that be your guiding light. 

Look, Tusk is a weird movie. 

Kevin Smith is one of my heroes and an interesting person, but the movie is out there. It's insane anyone made it, but Tusk being made is also the reason Shovel Buddies (my movie) got made. 

I saw Tusk and thought, "That's so weird...what do I have to say that's weird?"

That led me down my own path of different things I wanted to talk about and it gave me the confidence to be as weird as possible. 

If you take one thing away from this movie, it should be that any idea you have is valid. Just write it well. Write it in a way where it finds its audience. Tusk got made because it went viral on Twitter. 

But Shovel got made because the spec was passed around bunch. Mostly because it was so weird. 

Find your POV. Write your movie. 

I can't wait to see it. 

What's next? Check out the making of Jay and Silent Bob: Reboot

Kevin Smith is still alive. And we're happy about that so we can see the weekly behind the scenes coverage of his new movie...

Click to learn!      

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1 Comment

May we be spared of more Kevin Smith, please? Enough already that he is all over the IMDb.

October 2, 2019 at 6:16PM

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Misha Aranyshev
Film Editor
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