Independent film director Kevin Smith (“Clerks,” “Dogma,” “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”) announced this weekend at the Sundance Film Festival that he would be severing all ties with Hollywood, according to an article in Entertainment Weekly. In a bold move by the director, Smith gave a nearly 30-minute-long speech after the screening of his new religious horror film “Red State” explaining how he was planning on using his fan base to help distribute his film.
The unusual thing here is that Smith announced via Twitter that he was there to sell his film to a studio for distribution, knowing that he had no such plans to do so. He announced that he was going to purchase his own film for $20 and use Twitter and a road tour of his film to raise money and release the film himself, without the help of the studio system.
While Smith did apologize for the deception about the auction, he did claim that the people in the studio system has “lied to [him] many times,” further motivating this hoax.
A video of the speech can be found below:
Later that day, the dates and locations of the road tour were released on Bloody-Disgusting.com. This is not the first time something like this has been done with a cult film. Darren Lynn Bousman’s 2008 film “Repo! The Genetic Opera” did something similar, although to unsuccessful box office results.
Now, I have a great deal of respect for Kevin Smith, but I’m not so sure this is the best course of action for him right now. He has been in trouble with the film industry before, as evidenced by his backlash towards critics of his last film “Cop Out.”
I’m certain that others feel this way as well. Devin Faraci, of the blog “Bada** Nerd,” finds Smith’s analysis on the state of the independent film to be “hurtful to the many good people working in indie film today.”
Smith has always been a bit of a rogue in the Hollywood circuit, and this debacle at Sundance could potentially destroy his career. Granted, he also announced that his next film “Hit Somebody” would be the last directorial effort of his career. Then he will strictly be working with his own distribution company.
This announcement of his retirement from directing came as a bit of a shock as well, but that may be why he chose this point in time to directly attack the studio system and try to do something about it. Is he wanting to start a revolution? Only time will tell.
While I don’t think Smith would ever accept help from a publicist, I think it is exactly what he needs right now. If I were his publicist, I would suggest possibly taking a less radical approach to the entire affair. I understand his frustration with the studio system but I feel like, despite his 1.7 million Twitter followers, he could be isolating his fans by doing this.
If Smith truly wants to make “Red State” for the fans and bring it to them personally, I would suggest not being so preachy about the studio system. I also think that he needs to make his statements about his issues with the studio system sound less like attacks and more like actual concerns. This might garner more sympathy for his cause from his viewers and even from people in the studio system itself.
Either way, I look forward to seeing “Red State” when it is (hopefully) released on October 19 (the anniversary of the release of “Clerks,” Smith’s directorial debut). I just hope Smith’s plan works, and that he learns to perhaps be a little bit more soft with his attacks. Although anyone who has seen at least one of Smith’s movies (with the exception of “Jersey Girl”) knows that “soft” isn’t something he is very skilled at.
“Red State” stars Michael Park, Academy Award nominee Melissa Leo, John Goodman, and Kyle Gallner. A trailer for the film can be found below the jump.