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Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash

by Mike McCarthy

MIKE: I understand you've been busy doing some editing. Finishing off Chasing Amy?
KEVIN: Yeah. Just took another four minutes out of it.

MIKE: You recently sold the rights to Miramax. Were you at all afraid you'd have a hard time getting it picked up?
KEVIN: No. I always had a feeling that Miramax would pretty much step up and grab it. The film's right up their alley.

MIKE: What made you decide to go the independent route again after doing Mallrats for a studio?
KEVIN: Um, it just made sense. It was pretty much the route we always intended to go and stay. With Mallrats, we kind of . . . diverged. We got sidetracked with Mallrats. This was the idea of doing what we intended to do, which was make this quirky little bunch of flicks. And I always dug the idea of making a movie that's not that expensive. It doesn't have to yield that much back during its theatrical run. Doing Mallrats for six million was kind of forced on us, and also kind of disappointing in that if it had a limited audience it's not gonna make back what its budget was. Chasing Amy was shot for like 250 grand.

MIKE: I've always wondered if there had been things in earlier drafts of the Mallrats script that the studio said were too vulgar and made you pull.
KEVIN: Absolutely, in the earlier drafts there were. The shooting draft is pretty much what the movie is except for the stuff in the first half hour we cut. There was some racy stuff, but during the script development process they were just like, lose that.

MIKE: Everyone is calling Chasing Amy boy-meets-lesbian. What's your actual pitch for it?
KEVIN: That is fairly close. On the surface, it's the story of a guy who falls in love with a lesbian, but I don't really have a pitch line. I just maintain that it's the most different film we've done to date. It's way more dramatic. It was a hell of a lot more satisfying for us to make. We stretch a lot in this movie.

MIKE: Do you want to talk a little bit about the characters and cast?
KEVIN: The cast was basically filled out with a lot of people we worked closely with on Mallrats. I like to think of Mallrats as my six million dollar casting call for Chasing Amy. We had a good time making Mallrats, and it was a cute little movie, but we were working with people that definitely could have shown more colors. Way more range. When I was writing Chasing Amy, I wrote the parts with these people in mind so they could show that range. Kind of stretch. Ben had pretty much played one note assholes up until this point. I knew Ben as a guy--as a person--and he's just way more charismatic than that. Way more colorful a character. So, I wrote that part with Ben in mind, knowing that he could pull it off. Same with Joey. Joey pretty much played the slut, the bad girl, and the cute squeaky voiced girl who shows her tits--even in one of my flicks--but I knew she was capable of a lot more.

MIKE: Has Amy hit any film festivals yet?
KEVIN: Not yet. We're hoping to start at Sundance this year. Kind of a return. Do like we did with Clerks.

MIKE: When's the anticipated official release?
KEVIN: Hopefully, February or March.

MIKE: During the Clerks credits it said Jay and Silent Bob would return in Dogma, as they will, but did you intend to make that one second at the time?
KEVIN: We were gonna make that second, but we opted not to. We knew that the second film was gonna get trashed. We knew that we'd take our hits from the critics. Sophomore effort always does. Dogma was just too good a film to get wasted on that, to get blasted just because it was the second film. So, we figured we'd throw them a film that was kind of critic proof in our opinion, where it didn't matter what the critics said about it, which was Mallrats. Then we intended to do Dogma third, but Chasing Amy popped into my head and I became hung up on that. And I thought it would make a great transition film because Dogma is a different kind of mix of humor and seriousness and subject matter. You're dealing with religion and it's kind of heavy stuff. At the same time, it's more of a satire than Chasing Amy is. But I thought Chasing Amy, especially after Mallrats, made sense as a transition because people can look at it and go, oh, the kid can do more than dick and fart jokes.

MIKE: When I read the Dogma script, I was surprised by all the Biblical proportions. Were they always there or did some of that stuff not show up until later drafts?
KEVIN: Basically, Dogma was pretty much always what it is. I started writing that right after I started writing Clerks. It was always the ambitious flick. But it used to be daunting for that reason. It was like, this is the movie where we're gonna show them what we could do. Something other than Clerks or whatever. But at the same time Amy kind of snuck up and took the pressure off of Dogma and wound up being the flick that is probably the most revealing. The biggest step for us yet. Now we can go have a good time with Dogma and not worry about the pressure of throwing them something completely different.

MIKE: Clerks was your film debut, as everybody knows, but was it your first screenplay?
KEVIN: Yeah. It absolutely was.

MIKE: I was flipping through a screenwriter's directory and it said you wrote a script called Busing. What's that one?
KEVIN: That's a script I wrote for Hollywood Pictures right after Clerks got picked up. Thankfully, it never went anywhere. We're trying to get it back to do it for Miramax. It was the first job I got after Clerks. It's been described as Clerks in a restaurant.

MIKE: Jay and Silent Bob were in Clerks and Mallrats and will be in Chasing Amy and Dogma. Do you plan to include them in your future directorial efforts beyond that?
KEVIN: No. I think Dogma's the last one. It gives them a nice send off.

MIKE: Were Jay and Silent Bob in the Busing script?
KEVIN: No, they weren't.

MIKE: Silent Bob only speaks once per film. Do you aspire to ever play more talkative characters?
KEVIN: In Chasing Amy he has a huge monologue where he explains the title. It's about four minutes. So, that's the most talkative thing I've done in the films yet. As for playing more talkative characters? I don't know. It's always fun to act, but it's definitely not my forte.

MIKE: Has Jason "Jay" Mewes done any acting outside of your films?
KEVIN: He did a smaller film we produced shot up in Canada called Drawing Flies. It actually debuted at the Vancouver Film Festival recently. But, yeah, he played a completely different character.

MIKE: Will that be released here in the U.S.?
KEVIN: We're gonna check it out. We're seeing. Hopefully a Canadian distributor will pick it up. That's where it will play best.

MIKE: I remember hearing a rumor that Four Rooms was originally going to be Five Rooms and that yourself and Richard Linklater were going to be two of the filmmakers involved. Any truth to that?
KEVIN: Sort of. There was supposed to be five rooms and Richard was supposed to be involved, not me. But somebody had asked . . . Who was it? I heard a story--I think from my lawyer, John--where the producer, Lawrence Bender, had asked him if Richard was gonna be available to do it. He represents Richard as well. John said, no, Richard's working on something, but you know who would be good, this new guy Kevin Smith, he did the movie Clerks. And Lawrence Bender was like, oh, I don't think so. So, he kind of boxed me out.

MIKE: I always wondered if Quentin was just afraid someone would show him up in the dialogue department.
KEVIN: No, it smelled like Lawrence Bender's insecurity.

MIKE: You're currently rewriting the new Superman script. How did that come about?
KEVIN: Basically, it came from Chasing Amy. The execs producing the project read the script and really liked it. They had me come in and talk about Superman. After jumping through hoops for about a month and a half, they gave me the job. It's ironic because I would say Chasing Amy is about the farthest thing from Superman you'll probably ever read.

MIKE: Is it just dialogue you're rewriting or . . . ?
KEVIN: No, it's everything. It's a page one rewrite.

MIKE: Great. Who's the villain going to be?
KEVIN: There's Lex Luther and Brainiac. Then there's Doomsday, of course, and the Cyborg Superman.

MIKE: Has a director been attached to the project yet?
KEVIN: Not yet.

MIKE: Might you direct it?
KEVIN: Hell no. That's way too big. Way too big.

MIKE: OK, then we know you'd write something you're not directing, but would you ever direct something you didn't write?
KEVIN: I would only direct stuff that I write because I think that's where my talent lies, in that I know what my dialogue should sound like. Directing somebody else's script, to me, it just seems like I couldn't do it justice.

MIKE: As far as writing and directing go, which gives you more fulfilment?
KEVIN: Oh, definitely the writing. Hands down. Although on Chasing Amy I felt like I grew a little bit as a director. But, still, it will always be the writing. If I had to choose one it would be the writing always.

MIKE: Now that you did Chasing Amy as an independent again, and have dealt with the studio doing Mallrats, are you hoping to get another studio deal after this one, or do you want to remain independent now?
KEVIN: Well, we're doing Dogma for Miramax next. And that's a nine million-dollar movie. So, I mean, somebody's picking up the check.

MIKE: And, of course, you need that money to translate what's in the script onto the screen. It's not like having to spend six million on Mallrats.
KEVIN: Oh yeah. Nine or ten million is gonna be a stretch, actually.

MIKE: Where did the inspiration for Dogma come from? Were the religious pokes thoughts you've always had?
KEVIN: I think they're thoughts I've always had. Growing up Catholic definitely does a lot of that to you. There's things like Matt Wagner, a comic book writer/artist that did this book called Mage, which was a big inspiration. And everything like listening to George Carlin talk about his Catholic background on his comedy records. Sam Kinison talking about his religious life. Things like that always kind of sink in. So, I kind of made it into a thing of my own.

MIKE: Chasing Amy is a very heartfelt script, and Dogma has lots of thought provoking elements, but they're also very funny. Could you see yourself ever writing and/or directing a straightforward drama or something?
KEVIN: I think that would be really hard for me. Humor is such a natural part of who I am. It winds up in everything. It would be really hard not to do it. I mean, I could probably get away with doing something dramatic, but it would always have some funny lines in it. The humor would always be there. Maybe not as obvious, or as loud as it is in Clerks or Mallrats, but I think it would always be there. Even with Chasing Amy, the first hour or forty five minutes, it feels like a comedy. It's my funniest stuff to date.

MIKE: That said, do you think your knack for humor will ever become a curse to you as a writer?
KEVIN: No, not really. It hasn't affected me. Writing Superman Lives, I can't really do comedy. You can be kind of funny, or cute like they are in Batman, but just as long as it doesn't go overboard.

MIKE: When you write your scripts, are you trying to write comedy or do you not set out to write any particular genre?
KEVIN: I think it pretty much starts off as what it intends to be. It's like, this is gonna be a funny flick or blah, blah, blah.

MIKE: You've said in the past that Slacker is the film that made you realize you could make films yourself. Since then, has there been another movie that you think would have inspired you to make films had you not seen that?
KEVIN: Um . . . shucks. I don't know. Maybe Welcome To The Dollhouse. Just in terms of the tone of the film. It was decidedly mixed. It mixed humor wonderfully with the drama. I think that would have done something for me.

MIKE: The Clerks and Mallrats soundtracks both sport dialogue excerpts. Will the Chasing Amy disc?
KEVIN: I'm not sure. It would be nice, but I don't know if the tone of the film is right. It's a little more serious. But we might.

MIKE: Have you decided on any bands for the soundtrack yet?
KEVIN: No. We start the end of this week, the beginning of next week.

MIKE: Before the Clerks soundtrack, the only other soundtrack I'd ever heard with dialogue was the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack. Was that the inspiration there?
KEVIN: No, I think the inspiration was actually two other soundtracks. One was Batman, the Prince soundtrack with the dialogue clips on it, and Terms of Endearment. That had dialogue on it. It had been a common practice once in the 70's.

MIKE: Was it really important to you that the Clerks disc have dialogue?
KEVIN: No. It just kind of popped up later on when we were putting the soundtrack together. The prospect of having an album or CD that actually had my words on it, I thought that was really cool.

MIKE: The "Berserker" and "Chewbacca" tracks really fit that film. Were they written for it?
KEVIN: With the "Berserker" thing, Love Among Freaks had covered it after Jason sang it in the movie. They covered it as a lark and I said, yeah, that's pretty cool, include it. The "Chewbacca" thing was actually found by the people who put the soundtrack together.

MIKE: What are your favorite tracks on that disc?
KEVIN: I'm still very partial to the opening track that Love Among Freaks had done. I do like The Jesus Lizard track a lot. "Making Me Sick." I like that track. And, of course, the Soul Asylum track, which the boys kind of wrote for the movie. That's very dear. Very near to my heart.

MIKE: And, of course, you directed the video for that. What was that like for you?
KEVIN: It was a lot of fun. It was different because, you know, video's pretty much a visual medium and that's it. And I'm a dialogue guy. But I enjoyed it. I really, really enjoyed it. The guys were great. They didn't want to play instruments in the video, which made it much easier to do the video I was thinking of doing, which was just basically Jay singing the song.

MIKE: Were there any other videos from Clerks?
KEVIN: There was a video for "Kill The Sex Player," but somebody else directed it.

MIKE: What about Mallrats. Any videos there?
KEVIN: There was a Goops music video that I directed for the cover tune of "Build Me Up Buttercup," which was just me and Jason. All Jay and Silent Bob. It's actually on our website. You can download it and see it.

MIKE: What's the website address?
KEVIN: It's www.viewaskew.com. I've been very into the website as of late. I spend a lot of time online. People ask questions and I spend a lot of time answering everyone.

MIKE: When people spot you on the street, do they call you Kevin or Silent Bob?
KEVIN: I get a lot of Silent Bob when people do recognize me, but I have shorter hair in real life and I wear glasses. So, I'm not instantly recognizable. So, it's people that have seen me in interviews that usually pick me out and say, you're that guy that did Clerks, right?

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