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Kevin Smith Reflects On His Career, Talks About Awards Culture & Why 'Red State' Is His Best Film

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist December 4, 2012 at 10:02AM

If you ask Kevin Smith a question, you're going to get an answer, and when we sat down with the filmmaker last week he certainly wasn't at a loss for words. The director was speaking with press to promote his latest venture, the EPIX special "Jay and Silent Bob Go Down Under," a document of the Australian leg of his "Jay and Silent Bob Get Old" live show with his longtime collaborator Jason Mewes. It's another helping of what fans have come to love from Smith, as he relates his experiences with the humor and camaraderie of a fellow fan. And when he spoke with The Playlist, he was just as generous, and if you missed it yesterday, we ran the first part of our chat in which he shared his reasons why he prefers "The Avengers" to "The Dark Knight Rises," and why his hockey epic "Hit Somebody" is being scaled back to one movie instead of two. But there was even more.
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Red State Melissa Leo

And indeed, his horror movie is one that Smith is very proud of, a picture he feels is his finest accomplishment, and one that he stands behind as well for the unique promotion and release that saw him take it on the road across the country in roadshow screenings. "'Red State' is the best I will ever be as a filmmaker, maybe as an artist, and I was content to do it the way we did it – in 15 theaters without putting it on the world stage. The bells and whistles of people patting you on the back and saying, 'You did a good job,' I didn't need it, because I knew I did a good job and I didn't give a shit if nobody was there to fucking see it," Smith said. "Back in the day, because we were bred to reach as many people as possible, even though we were at Miramax, Miramax was still hell bent on world conquest, just in a tasteful way. So at the end of the day you still wanted to hit as many people as possible. But for me I got to the point where it was like, If I know it and my public knows it, that's all that matters. And really my public knowing it, I know that people will discover it in time. My favorite thing about 'Red State' is when I wake up in the morning and jump on Twitter, no lie, there's ten people who are like 'I just saw 'Red State' for the first time – holy fuck!' People play catch up now for the next few years because it's not this massive saturation thing."

"'Red State' feels like a movie I could and should have made in the early nineties if I had the talent and if I was a born filmmaker, which I wasn't."

"Like 'Clerks' back in the day got discovered. It made $3 million at the movie theater and never played in more than fifty screens. But when it hit home video it got passed around and in the way you can't pass shit around anymore. It became this currency of cool. Which doesn't quite exist anymore. But after that I had people backing me and there was commercials for your stuff. But 'Red State' had this identical experience since it wasn't shoved down everyone's throat and didn't have a 1,500 screen release, it has the ability to sneak up on people," Smith continued. "That's what I love about 'Red State' – it can really sneak up on people. It's just a really fucking weird movie. People come up and they're like 'I loved it!' and I'm like 'You're right.' And people come up to me and are like 'I hated it!' and I'm like 'Youre right.' Because it's designed to fuck with an audience's expectations. I'm not saying people who will hate it will one day like it, because people don't like to be tricked and they don't like to see you step out of your box.

And for now, Smith views "Red State" as a parallel -- and perhaps bookend -- to his very first movie. "If you watch 'Clerks' and 'Red State' back-to-back I honestly feel like one is a spiritual successor to the other because 'Clerks' is a movie made with true passion without a thought about what will happen, and it shows promise...And 'Red State' feels like the delivery of that promise, close to 20 years later. Remember that guy would could have made a great movie one day? He fucking did! 'Red State' feels like a movie I could and should have made in the early nineties if I had the talent and if I was a born filmmaker, which I wasn't. I was a writer first and the directing stuff came along because I wanted to make sure what I wrote ended up on the screen. And throughout directing, even though I'm a visual idiot, if you do something long enough, you get good enough. It's like what Malcolm Gladwell says – 10,000 hours. So if you spend enough time behind the camera not knowing what the fuck you're doing, one day you realize, 'Oh I do know what I'm doing.' That's why 'Red State' looks so good."

Finally, Smith says: "At the moment, if 'Red State' is the best I can ever fucking do, then I'm content to have it sit out there and make that statement. Until I come back with 'Hit Somebody.' That's the thesis statement."

"Jay & Silent Bob Go Down Under" is now available on EPIX.

This article is related to: Kevin Smith, Interviews, Red State


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