DIRECTOR PROFILE: That Raconteur Kevin Smith Returns With Tusk
To anyone who has been following Kevin Smith's career his latest film Tusk is quite a surprise. However, taking a look back over his twenty years of making films perhaps it is not that far out of left field. For a man who began his on screen persona playing a character named "Silent Bob"--Mr. Smith the filmmaker, the artist, the man has rarely been silent. He is often outspoken, brutally honest and has an amazing sense of humor. It was twenty years ago that this new voice emerged in American independent cinema--from the most unlikeliest of places, Red Bank New Jersey. That film was Clerks. It launched a series of films set in the view askewniverse, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma to name a few. Clerks was self-financed , shot on 16mm black and white and made for 27 575 dollars. Kevin Smith raised the money by selling a portion of his extensive comic book collection and maxing out several credit cards. Truly independent cinema. The film was picked up and released by Miramax. It reads like a modern day film making fairytale.
Looking back over his filmography, Smith made efforts to branch out from what was expected. Jersey Girl, Zack and Miri Make a Porno and the a film he has often talked about in his sold out spoken word appearances the large budget studio film Cop Out. These films did not meet box office expectations. I believe his film Red State was as much a reaction to Kevin Smith's experiences making a large budget studio film as it was a reaction to the state of the country.
With the gift of hindsight it seems Red State was the beginning of a new phase of Kevin's career directing motion pictures. At the premiere of Red State in 2011 he told the audience he had two more flicks he was going to make, Hit Somebody, his long anticipated film about hockey and one more film. Somewhere since February 2011 Kevin widely diverged from this original plan. Here is the now infamous 2011 Sundance speech at the premiere of Red State. Here is a quote from the speech, "It's not enough to make the movie, we have to learn how to release the movie."
While clutching a hockey stick from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, Kevin seemed to be looking ahead to the future of film distribution while also returning to his independent film making roots.
I was mentioning something about surprises. The next film was not Hit Somebody the long awaited movie about one of Kevin Smith's driving passions, hockey. Instead it was the film about to have its world premiere at midnight madness is Tusk. A film that was born from a Smodcast conversation with long time friend and producer Scott Mosier. The episode was entitled The Carpenter and The Walrus. Smith turned to his legion of followers on twitter and asked them to use the hashtag #WalrusYes if they wanted to see him take this story and turn it a full length movie. Suffice to say it was indeed a yes and the film was made. Here is a clip from Smodcast 259 where the idea for the film Tusk was born.
Even more surprising Kevin is currently in the midst of shooting his next picture Yoga Hosers. Starring Johnny Depp and both Mr. Depp and Mr. Smith's daughters in the lead roles. The second film of what is being called his "Canada Trilogy" This is what Kevin Smith had to say about this film" “People always ask me 'Are you ever going to make a comic book movie?' This is it — but instead of yet another dude saving the day, our antiheroes are the most feared and formidable creatures man has ever encountered: two 15-year-old girls.”
The third film Moose Jaws is being described as Jaws with a moose. It looked as though Kevin Smith was just about done with directing movies, but with Tusk world premiering at midnight madness and Yoga Hosers in the middle of production it looks like he is returning to the film medium with a vengeance. It will be interesting to see where Kevin Smith's unique cinematic voice will go from here.
TUSK screening times:
Sat., Sept. 6th 11:59 PM, RYERSON
Sun., Sept. 7th, 9:45 PM, BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA
Fri., Sept. 12th, 3:45 PM, SCOTIABANK 1