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Interview: Kevin Smith

By BARRY THOMPSON  |  November 29, 2010

Hm, maybe I should reconsider my Gen-X cultural touchstone question….
Hold that for Richard Linklater, dude. He’s far more appropriate for that kind of thing.

Well, how ‘bout this: Nirvana made it look like anybody could be a rockstar, the same way Clerks made it look like anybody could be a filmmaker…which they can’t, but still.
Somebody once expressed it to me like this, and I loved it so much, but it’s one of those things you can’t say on your own behalf without people being like ‘Oh, fucking arrogant much?’ But it was said like this to me. Not everybody bought the Velvet Underground’s first album, but everybody who bought the Velvet Underground’s first album started bands. That’s what that person compared Clerks to, and I was kind of flattered by that, because not everybody saw Clerks. I’ve been doing this 17 years, I’ll be coming up on 18 this year, and I’ve met enough people who’re like, ‘Your movie made me want to make movies,’ which is always a weird backhanded compliment, because it’s like, ‘Your shit made it look like anybody could do it. Your movie looked so terrible, I figured I could do that. If that counts as a movie, I’ll do it!’ I know that ‘cause that’s how I felt about Slacker. I was like, ‘If this counts as a movie, I can do this!’ So, at the end of the day, I could kind of see the comparison to some degree, but Nirvana was very successful. We’re more like Mudhoney.

Yeah, but nobody remembers Slacker.
I do! You got to watch those terms, dude, like ‘nobody,’ or ‘everybody.’ You sound like Malcolm Ingram. It’s taken me years to explain that to him. Lots of people remember Slacker, dude. Check it out on Hulu. See how many people have watched it. Everybody who works in filmmaking remembers that movie. Particularly certain kind of films. It’s just not covered in Entertainment Weekly anymore, or Us Weekly. It’s all about self-involvement, what’s going on right now. But a lot of people love that flick. I believe they’re honoring it at Sundance this year. A few people said in the past, ‘Clerks is well remembered, and that one’s not.’ And I’m like ‘Bullshit!’ Wherever I go, I’m out preaching the gospel of Slacker still to this day. Sometime it’s a backhanded compliment, like ‘I saw Slacker, and realized I could make a fucking movie,’ but I’m still out there spreading the word, everywhere I go. When people talk to me about what I do, I quickly defer back to the people who inspired me to do what I’m doing. So I love to keep Slacker out there and alive, because it is the kind of empowering flick where you go, ‘Oh, shit, I want to try this. I could give that a shot.’ And Clerks was that, as well, for a lot of people. Clerks looks so fucking achievable. Clerks looks like your fucking mom could’ve shot it. It’s so easy. The approach is so fuckin’ simple. It helps to have flicks like that for somebody else to look that and kind of being inspired by, and then make something kind of neat and maybe inspire somebody else.  I’ve met people who are successful and cite Clerks, like Jason Reitman. He’s very sweet about going, ‘Clerks is the movie, blah blah blah.’ But for every Jason Reitman, I’ve met 10,000 people who didn’t make Thank You for Smoking, but nonetheless gave it a shot because they saw Clerks, and said, ‘It spoke to something in me and I gave it a shot.’

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Related: Review: The Bad Plus's For All I Care, Interview and photos: Gerard Malanga, Love's life, More more >
  Topics: Features , Nirvana, Mudhoney, Richard Linklater,  More more >
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