For many, Kevin Smith is a filmmaker who once upon a time made great movies while others have stuck by his side through thick and thin. The well-reviewed Clerks II has brought to a close a story that has spanned 30 years. It is now time to take a look at Kevin Smith’s career and find out what happened. Smith has said that watching his father struggle at the post-office made him vow never to work a job he hated. However, despite his love of movies, he never thought that someone like him could have a career in the film industry. Smith made friends with future
Comic Book Men Bryan Johnson, Walt Flanagan and others in high school. They would all work together at a local youth center and Johnson and Flanagan told Smith about a kid who would enter the center and perform fake sexual acts before sitting down to enjoy a comic. Smith was initially jealous of the new person because he thought he was the funniest in the group. He didn’t want this person to encroach on his territory. This person, unaware that Smith was only friends with Johnson and Flanagan, came to his house one day and asked, “What are we doing today?” Smith told him they weren’t close friends, but the person didn’t understand and kept asking. Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, or Jay and Silent Bob as they are better known, began a lifelong and lucrative friendship. Smith stated that this film showed him that movies can be made anywhere and not just on Hollywood soundstages. He credits the film with sparking his desire to become a filmmaker. It was something he always wanted to do, but never imagined possible. Smith enrolled at the Vancouver Film School, where he met Scott Mosier. Smith decided after a few months to leave the film school and return to New Jersey. He and Mosier had made a deal before leaving: whoever wrote the first script, the other would drop everything to help them make it. Well, it just so happens that when Smith moved back to Jersey, he took his old job working at a local convenience store and he would use the exploits of working in that store as the basis for his first feature length script titled
Inconvenience, or as it would later be retitled: Clerks.
The story of Clerks is one of the most revered stories in all of independent cinema. Smith, a comic book collector who sold his entire collection, maxed out all of his credit cards to fund his debut. This would result in an overall budget of $27 575. In the modern world, you can shoot a film like Clerks for way less than that budget using digital technology. But in the early 1990’s, film stock was expensive and you had to buy it to make a film. Smith would hire a crew and cast of his friends to save money and film the movie at night after working a full day shift in the store. The result would be one of the biggest and most respected independent films ever released.
With the success of Clerks, Smith was courted by the major studios leading him to make his highly anticipated follow up Mallrats at Universal Studios with a budget over $5 million. The movie was hilarious but the general public wasn’t ready to accept Kevin Smith’s humor. It only made $2.1 million at the box office. Once
Mallrats hit home video though, it exploded, developing a cult following as it was one of the earlier roles of Ben Affleck and was a Cinematic Universe before that was even a thing as the events in Mallrats would directly reference those from Clerks.The failure of Mallrats hit Smith pretty hard and for his next film he went back to his indie roots where he would secure a budget of just $500,000 to film Chasing Amy which would reunite his
Mallrats stars Jason Lee, Ben Affleck and Smith’s former girlfriend Joey Lauren Adams. Smith’s success is evident in his smaller budget films. Chasing Amity grossed over $12 million at box office and was critically acclaimed. Smith won the Independent Spirit Award for the Best Screenplay. And of course he was hired to right that infamous Nic Cage Superman film that never happened…By this point Smith had gotten into producing movies, mainly just helping his friends get their work made. Ben Affleck, his now close friend, had written a screenplay with Matt Damon which would win them an Oscar. Kevin Smith was crucial to the production of Good will Hunting ! Smith took advantage of their friendship to cast Damon and Affleck as two fallen angels in his next movie, Dogma 001010about a pair of fallen angels who use a loophole for a way back into heaven. Smith was shocked to see people picketing his film because they didn’t understand it. The protests were led by Catholics who called the movie blasphemous. The same members of the Catholic church who were so righteous also sent Smith death threats. The film would gross nearly $50 million off a $10 million budget and would return Smith to the Independent Spirit Awards where he was nominated for Best Screenplay.After doing an uncredited rewrite of the 2000 film
Coyote Ugly in which only one of his lines made it into the final cut, with Jay and Silent Bob having a cameo in Scream 3,
and the short lived Clerks The Animated Series, Smith would bring the iconic supporting characters he created to the forefront with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) which would work as a capper to his View Askewniverse, with an after credits screen literally closing the book on it. The film was given a $22 million budget, but only managed to secure $34 million in global receipts. Smith claims that despite the film being his culmination of work to that point, it was one of his hardest films he has ever made. At the time, his hetero life-mate Jason Mewes had severe addiction and was experiencing mood swings as well as bouts of severe rage. Smith said he told Mewes to get sober after filming ended, and Mewes agreed! He has had a few bumps in the road along the way, but nothing like his addictions back during the making of the film and as of today Mewes has celebrated over 12 years of sobriety.After scoring a cameo in his buddy Ben Affleck’s Daredevil movie, Smith would bring the power couple of Affleck and Jennifer Lopez together on the big screen for his first PG13 rated directorial effort titled Jersey Girl. The film was released just a few months after the disastrous pairing of Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in Gigli. The movie is a sweet story about a father who has suffered a terrible loss and must pick up the pieces for himself and his daughter. I think that it got lost in the media frenzy surrounding Affleck/J Lo. Smith has teased an extended cut of the film saying he hopes to release it one day, and that its one I would like to see as I think it was unfairly maligned when it was released.2006 would be a pretty big year for Smith as he would appear in Richard Kelly’s infamous bomb
Southland Tales and opposite Jennifer Garner in Catch and Release, but the biggest Smith release of 2006 would be his first sequel, Clerks II. It’s not only hilarious, with the biting dialogue you would expect from a Clerks-
sequel but it also hits you right in the heart at the end. This is quite a feat considering all the grotesques shit this film contains! The film Clerks I received some attention before its release. It received an 8-minute standing ovation from the Cannes Film Festival, and also received some harsh criticism by critic Joel Siegel. Siegel reportedly walked away from a press screening of the film in an obtrusive and rude manner so that everyone would see him. He claimed to have never walked away from a film in his 30-year career of reviewing films. Smith called Siegel out for his behavior both online and on the Opie and Anthony Show, where Siegel apologized for his behavior and defended his criticism of the movie. Clerks 2, originally titled The Passion of the Clerks costed $5 million to produce, or approximately 165 times the cost of the first film. It was a decent hit at the box office, earning nearly $27 millions worldwide. Judd Apatow’s films like The forty-year-old virgin andKnocked up were popular. Smith decided to write a movie that was still his own, but also tried to incorporate some Apatow style. Seth Rogan, Elizabeth Banks and Zack & miri make a porno were the stars of 2008’s Zack & miri make a Porno . Smith believed that this film would help him achieve a first-place opening and a total gross of $100 million. After a bumpy campaign in which many main channels refused to advertise a film with the title
Porno, the film only opened in second with $10.7 million and went on to gross $42.8 million worldwide. Smith was depressed by the failure of his movie. Not only did it not make an impact on mainstream audiences, but he also felt that he had destroyed Seth Rogan’s career. Smith was even more upset that Harvey Weinstein had turned his back on Smith’s film, which he had supported for all his films up to that point. This soured their relationship. I guess in hindsight that really wasn’t such a bad thing to have some distance from Harvey Weinstein!Smith would then do something he never thought he’d do: direct a film he didn’t write for a major studio. After a cameo appearance in Bruce Willis’ Live free or die hard, Smith would reunite with Willis for a script entitled A Couple Of Dicks that was ultimately retitled Cop out after Smith believed it was a Cop-Out to change the original name. Smith has said in numerous interviews that he hated working with Bruce Willis, saying that Willis didn’t want to be there. Smith responded to counter claims that he was smoking too much marijuana and wasn’t being as involved as a good director should be. He said that when he smokes, he works harder. The two would eventually bury their hatchets years and years later. But not before Cop out
would fail at the box office, earning only $55.4 million compared to a $30 million budget before marketing costs. Kevin Smith has his audience and they will pay to see a Kevin Smith movie. Kevin Smith has his audience, and they will pay to watch his movies. This weekly chit-chat would not only spawn the largest Podcast network, but also several successful weekly shows. It would also inspire new movie ideas. Smith’s latest project was a film that brought him back to his humble, low-budget roots. However, it was also a complete departure from what he had done before. It was a horror movie loosely based off the once headline-grabbing Westboro Baptist Church called Red state. The movie, and Smith, would make headlines, and earn the ire of studios, when he pretended that he was holding an auction for potential studios after the Sundance screening. Smith, standing outside the theater, bought the film for one dollar for his newly formed Smodco Productions. Many film buyers were not impressed by the ruse Smith pulled. They said that he wasted their time, knowing that he didn’t intend to sell the movie. Smith, for his part took the film to a roadshow and did a live Q&A with fans after the screening. This was the direct result of Smith’s disillusionment with the studios. He thought that instead of spending twice as much on marketing a film, he would market to his fans in order to recoup whatever minuscule budget was available. These roadshows were able to pay back all financing for the film and then some. After writing Jay & Silent Bob’s super Groovy cartoon movie, Smith continued with his offbeat films with a story about a Podcaster that gets turned into a Walrus. The film was a direct outcome of his SMODcast, where he and Mosier talked about an article in which someone offered a free apartment to anyone who dressed like a walrus. Tusk, featuring an unrecognizable performance by Johnny Depp, would premiere at the Toronto Film Festival where it would win runner up Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award and has gained a cult following in the years since its release with Smith recently saying he is ready to roll cameras on a sequel. Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn would play two convenience store employees, while Johnny Depp’s daughter Lily Rose would be the other. Smith wanted to give his daughter a feature film, so he wrote Yoga Hosers- about the duo. This one featured everything from a young Austin Butler, to Bratzis which were little Nazi Bratwursts played by Smith! Critics and Smith’s loyal fans felt that the movie was a step too much, with little redeeming value. Rather than becoming a cult classic, it has largely been forgotten.
Smith would take some time off from making movies to focus on his podcasts and live shows. Smith was recording shows for EPIX on February 25, 2018. In between the shows, Smith lay down because he didn’t feel well. Smith reported the next day that he suffered a massive cardiac arrest, which kills 90% of those who suffer from it. Smith became a Vegan the next day and began chronicling his Runyan Canyon hikes. Look at the pictures of Smith when he was first introduced to the world. He is a totally different person. Smith seemed to be reevaluating his life. He missed making films, so he began writing a new movie in his View Askewniverse. Jay & Silent Bob Reboot would release in 2019, and parody the current craze for rebooting and sequalizing older properties. He took the film on tour, marketing directly to fans. The plan worked and the film was rated the second highest per-screen average in 2019. Smith’s professional career was most affected by the heart attack. He had written a script a few years ago for Clerks 3
, which he said he was glad they never made, because it didn’t seem like a Clerks movie. Jeff Anderson probably refused to make this film because of that. Smith rewrote his script after his heart attack to emphasize how a heartattack changes a person. Jeff Anderson, who played Randall, signed on, and in 2022, we got
Clerks 3. The film worked as a send off of a beloved characterwhile again giving us that great dialog that comes with a Clerks film. The new school Smith films may not have been as good as their older counterparts, but they were still a great way to end a series that was very dear to many. It showed that hard work and money can lead to a lifetime of wonderful memories, a filmography cherished by many, and a legion loyal fans who have changed his life by being himself. Kevin Smith is more than just the man who made the films Clerks and Yoga Hobos. He is the person who tells his audience that they can achieve whatever they set their hearts and minds to. Smith’s output may have slowed in recent years, but that doesn’t mean he has slowed down. You can catch him on live shows all over the country, where he shares stories from his 30 years in the entertainment industry. He even tells about finally seeing his version Superman by Nicolas Cage
up big screen. Kevin Smith is doing great!