Borders.com - Silent Bob Keeps Talking: Another Conversation with Kevin Smith
Silent Bob Keeps Talking: Another Conversation with Kevin Smith
Conducted by Sharon McRill, Borders.com Video Editor
Irreverent and fun, Kevin Smith is just a great guy who hasn't let the fact that he's a well-known director make his head swell. In our second conversation, Smith discussed more details of his most recent film Dogma, (including what he really feels about the cast), and his upcoming animated series Clerks to air on ABC, based on his wonderfully popular first film of the same name.
Are you getting tired of talking about Dogma?
Kevin Smith: No, I've had a nice break from it. Around the time of the release of the flick, yeah, I was pretty tired. I just wanted people to see the movie. I thought the film pretty much spoke for itself, so I guess it's easier to talk about than it was a few months back.
Has the attention from the Catholic League died down?
KS: It died down before the movie even came out. Once Disney was no longer involved with the film, the Catholic League went away, which proved my theory that they didn't really give a shit about us or the movie. They just wanted to attack Disney, and once Disney was no longer part of the mix, once there was no network or a couple theme parks to threaten, the Catholic League "went quietly into that good night."
One of the things that I read was there were severe tornadoes and rainstorms that slowed your shooting down in Pittsburgh.
KS: There was one.
KS: Yeah. [Laughing.] That was one of those stories that blows up into a larger story. We were at the hospital, and we were supposed to shoot an outside sequence with Jay and Bethany (Jason Mewes and Linda Fiorentino), where Jason drags her behind some equipment. And we were supposed to of course do that outside, but it was raining, and there were these tornadoes, so we actually did it inside -- just some room in the hospital.
And we shot inside, and between set-ups, we were outside, and Linda pointed out a funnel that was touching down a few miles away. We actually saw it. I'd never seen a tornado before. Linda of course surmised that it was an angry God trying to get at us.
You really did assemble an incredible cast. As I say their names, just say the first thing that pops in your head. Alan Rickman.
KS: Alan Rickman. A fantastic actor, a wonderful guy, a sweetheart of a man who lent a large amount of credibility to a movie that probably wouldn't have had any without him.
KS: A dude I would always make movies with. He's a sweetheart and one of the best actors I think we've ever worked with because the roles he plays are always so very different from who he is as a person. He's not a smart aleck or a wise-cracker. He's actually a really genuine, sincere person with a very eclectic sense of humor, but tremendous talent, who deserves far more attention than he's gotten so far.
And the lead in your film, Linda Fiorentino.
KS: Linda. [Pause. Laughing.] I thought she did a tremendous job in the movie. [Pause. Laughs again] She's difficult though, to say the least. The most difficult person I've ever worked with.
You did more special effects in this film than you've done in any other film. One thing I was wondering is, did the angel wings really weigh a hundred pounds?
KS: The wings were very heavy. They did actually weigh pretty close to a hundred.
Holy, moly. How did the FX guys make them explode?
KS: They just attached a bunch of squibs to them. I remember we shot it wide at first, and it didn't look that great, so then we went in and did up-tight shots on different parts of what was left of the wings. We had to quickly rebuild them, and do it very tightly, which actually worked out far better. But they attached squibs, some of these little things that detonate and go off and put little blood packs on them and stuff like that.
So the really great pair of wings that Ben wears, which are the same pair that Alan Rickman wears, we didn't blow up those. We blew up another pair of wings.
Of course the Dogma DVD is coming out, but there's a souped-up version coming out in October. So what can people expect to see on the version coming out now versus the version in October?
KS: The one that comes out now is pretty much just the film and maybe a trailer. The one that comes out in October has all the extras, like 90 minutes of cut footage, a documentary, trailers, behind-the-scenes type stuff, and the rationale for doing both (and I thought it was a pretty fair rationale) was.... We said, "Just wait until we're done and put out one version," and Columbia Tristar said, "Yeah, but not everyone buys a special edition. Some people just want the movie. They don't want to pay the extra. So we want to put out one [at the same time as the] VHS." So the hard-core fans who really want all the extras and what-not, wait a few months and pick up the other one in October. Which would be a little pricier.
But, you get lots of good stuff.
KS: There's a ton of extras. It's along the lines of the Mallrats disc, but Dogma actually has more stuff on it -- it may be a two-DVD set. It's pretty packed.
And speaking of DVDs - Chasing Amy Collector's Edition, very nice. [It releases June 13, 2000.]
KS: Yeah, pretty sweet. I mean we had done that, Chasing Amy Criterion laser disc. Basically the DVD that's coming out is everything that was on the laser disc that very few people saw because it came out as laser disk was dying. So, I recorded a new intro, and generally it's everything that was on the laser disk -- which we worked on pretty intensively back in the day, a few years back, and it's packed.
Up to that point, it was the disc we were most proud of. I think Mallrats wound up having a little more on it, and Dogma has a little more on that than both of them, but it's tons of extras and a great commentary we had done for that with Ben, just coming off of Armageddon, so it was before he'd become a massive movie star.
It should be a great DVD because it was a great laser disc.
So the next thing that's coming out is the Clerks animated series. Is it still a May 31 release?
KS: I believe it is. May 31 on ABC.
I read there's been some bumps along the way with ABC moving the date around. And I've heard rumors that you're possibly going to get these back and release them theatrically?
KS: That was something we were talking about at one point. About buying it back, and turning them into a movie, but there were six different episodes and it just wouldn't really have cut into a very coherent flick. So we just kind of bit the bullet, decided fuck it. Let it air on ABC. And ABC, I'm sure is going to cut out some of the jokes that they found to be too racy -- which I couldn't quite understand, but that was part of our problem with ABC the whole time.
Are you going to do more than six episodes?
KS: No, I think that's it. I think that's all they were interested in, and I think with me shooting off my mouth as much as I did, they're probably not interested in much more. [Laughing.]
But I was glad to see that you were sticking up for yourself.
KS: Yeah, exactly. I mean, that's the problem with this business sometimes. Not too many people do because everyone's afraid of burning bridges, and "Oh, I still have to work in this business or in this town or at this company or at this studio, at this network." But my feeling is, if you're getting fucked, you're getting fucked, and would you want to work with people that fucked you? Again? Why not stand up for yourself? And some people accuse you of being a crybaby, but I don't think it's being a crybaby. It's just not playing the politic game that most people do. I'd much rather have gone down having my say, than just quietly being led to the slaughter.
[Laughing.] I can't imagine you ever being quietly led to the slaughter!
KS: [Laughing.] Granted it wasn't that dire either. I mean it wasn't a situation of catastrophic or tragic proportions. They just said that [Clerks] was supposed to air in March, then they changed it to May. That kind of fucked with us. They caught word from upstairs that [Michael] Eisner didn't like it, and suddenly the network changes its opinion on the show, and that was my problem with it -- they didn't stand by what they initially thought of it. They pretty much rolled over. I mean, at least we got to make six cartoons.
I'm looking forward to seeing them. So I'm going to ask you a random question: have John Hughes or George Lucas ever contacted you for constantly referencing their films?
KS: No! Never. You would have thought Lucas would have done by now, but I guess the man was pretty busy. Thankfully we've never gotten contacted in that bad way, like, "We're suing you. Stop!" But we've also never gotten contacted in that good way. I guess I can understand it because when Phantom Menace came out or even with the rerelease of the Star Wars films a year or two back, they were brought firmly back into the public consciousness. But when we started filmmaking, like back in '94 with Clerks and even in '95 with Mallrats, nobody was talking about Star Wars any more, like it was dead. It was in three movies, and they existed a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
KS: Except online. Those weird cult pockets. But now throw a rock, and you hit something about Star Wars. It's back in the public consciousness -- thanks to rerelease and particularly the Phantom Menace -- so I'm not surprised anymore that the dude wouldn't call, but back in the day... I could see in '94, somebody being like, "George, man I saw a movie, and they talk about the Death Star." And him checking it out and calling up and like, "Wow. That's pretty funny. Thanks."
But I'd never heard from him personally, but Ben Affleck had gone to a party at [Steven] Spielberg's house once, and ran into Lucas. He said, "I went over to him, and I said, 'Have you ever heard of a picture called Clerks?' And he said, 'Yeah. Death Star Contractors. Very funny.'" So I thought that was kind of cool.
So, the last time I talked to you, you said that you were just going be taking some time off and hanging out with your new baby. Is that what you've been doing?
KS: Absolutely. Particularly for the last two or three months. Once everything on the show went south and it became apparent that those six episodes were going to be all that there were, I pretty much took some time and have just been spending it with the wife and with the baby and watching TV and playing video games.
Good for you.
KS: Yeah, it was kind of nice because it had been a very hectic two or three years, finally there was a nice breathing space, time to catch a breath and enjoy the fruits of the labor, so to speak.