360 Thursday Artist : Kevin Smith
In this, the second of many 360 thursday artist weeks, we will be going into something different than music but still in the entertainment biz none the less.
In 1970 Kevin Patrick Smith was brought into this world. This little New Jersey boy was to become a multi-talented person in the show biz world having a hand in acting, screenwriting, directing, comic book writing, co-founder of a production company and many other things which we’ll get to in a bit.
Early life and directing
Smith was born in a catholic household along with his older sister Virginia and older brother Donald Jr. Shortly after attending high school in Highlands Smith met Jason Mewes, he would not only become a close friend but a reoccurring actor in many of Kevin’s flicks. Kevin Smith would then attend The New School for social research in New York before going to film school in Vancouver, Canada. This is where he met Scott Mosier. Smith dropped out of film school and returned to Jersey, but not before making a pact with Mosier, whoever finished writing a film first the other would drive down to be the producer on it. True to their words “Clerks” was written and directed by Kevin Smith and produced by Scott Mosier. The movie cost a total of 27,575$ and was shot at the same convenience store Smith worked in. When the movie was shown at the Sundance Film Festival it won the filmmaker’s trophy and the flick was picked up by Miramax. Then the film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and won 2 awards : the “Prix de la jeunesse” and the “International critics’ week prize. With a very limited release the movie still made 3.1 million dollars and with such a minuscule cost it was a huge financial gain.
Smith’s next work was a movie called “Mallrats”, which feature Jason Lee’s first leading role. Despite having a larger release (500 screens instead of 50 like Clerks) it didn’t fare as well at the box office grossing 2.2 million.
“Widely hailed as one of Smith’s best films, Chasing Amy marked what Quentin Tarantino called “a quantum leap forward” for Smith. Starring Mallrats alumni Jason Lee, Joey Lauren Adams and Ben Affleck, the $250,000 film earned $12 million at the box office and wound up on a number of critics’ year-end best lists, and won two Independent Spirit Awards (screenplay and supporting actor for Lee).1″
Then Smith got into trouble shooting his next film, Dogma. It featured a great cast with Ben affleck, matt damon to name a few mixed with some of the regulars in Jason Mewes and Jason Lee. The trouble was with the Catholic league because the film raised some issues with religion and religious beliefs. Kevin’s humor might have been a bit of an odd mix with religion but an entertaining one none the less and many agreed as the 10 million dollar cost was overshadowed by the 30 million in sales.
“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” featured exactly that, Jay and Silent Bob, two of the famed characters from the “Askewniverse”. The Askewniverse is basically the world in which all of Smith’s characters are in. It is Kevin Smith’s created world, and “Jay and Bob strike back” was supposed to be the final chapter in this universe as Smith had other plans for the future. It is also a part of Kevin’s production company “View Askew Productions”. This film had cost more than the rest of his previous flicks combined at 20 million but still made a good profit at 30 million dollars.
The film “Jersey Girl” was made to step out of Smith’s “askewniverse” but unfortunately it was released after the main character Ben Affleck had made what was considered a bad film (Gigli) which may have caused the stumble at the box office. For its 35 million in cost it only brought in 25 million.
Clerks II marked one more trip into the Askewniverse, Smith resurrected the Dante and Randal characters from his first film and looked in on them ten years later. Roundly criticized before its release, the film went on to win favorable reviews as well as two awards (the Audience Award at the Edinburgh Film Festival and the Orbit Dirtiest Mouth Award at the MTV Movie Awards). It marked Smith’s third trip to the Cannes International Film Festival, where Clerks II received an eight minute standing ovation. The $5 million film, starring Jeff Anderson, Brian O’Halloran, Rosario Dawson, Jason Mewes, Jennifer Schwalbach and Smith himself—reprising his role as Silent Bob—earned $25 million.2″
After Clerks 2 Smith went for another attempt at making a non askewniverse based film. “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” ran into some problems as the rating was brought to R instead of 17+ which may have discouraged some moviegoers. This flick featured Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, Rogen being one of the most popular actor for comedies in the last year or so.
As an actor, Smith is known for his role as Silent Bob in Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, and Clerks II. He made a cameo appearance in the horror film Scream 3, and was featured along with Jason Mewes in several Degrassi episodes, including a special, “Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi” (also as a fictional version of himself).
From 1995 to 1997, Smith played small roles in the View Askew movies Drawing Flies, Vulgar, and Big Helium Dog. In 2001, he appeared in friend Jeff Anderson’s Now You Know. In 2003, Smith appeared in a cameo role as coroner Jack Kirby in the film Daredevil. In 2006, he voiced the Moose in the CGI cartoon Doogal. In 2007, Smith appeared in three films as an actor. He had his first starring role in a film he didn’t write or direct, co-starring as Sam in the film Catch and Release, starring Jennifer Garner. The performance earned him many favorable critical notices. Later that year, he had a small but significant part as a hacker called The Warlock in the fourth installment of the Die Hard franchise, Live Free or Die Hard for which he again received strong critical notices. At year’s end, he appeared briefly in friend and fellow writer-director Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales, in which he played the legless conspiracy theorist General Simon Theory. That same year, Smith also did voicework for the CGI film TMNT as a diner chef. He was also seen as Rusty (a friend of lead Jason Mewes) in Bottoms Up with co-star Paris Hilton.
Smith has also done small roles on television in shows such as Law & Order, Veronica Mars, Joey, Degrassi: The Next Generation, and Yes, Dear (in Yes, Dear, he also reprised his role as Silent Bob, which was simply him standing in one spot smoking a cigarette and saying nothing as the end credits rolled).3″
Smith uses the internet to his advantage by running his stores online, by writing regularly on some of his blogs and running his SModcast (poscast) episodes. He also actively updates his facebook and myspace pages.
Smith also has 2 books out : “Silent Bob Speaks” and My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith. Both books show an inside look on Kevin Smith’s life along with the movie industry and so much more. It’s one of the most unbelievable things to see someone write the way he speaks and he seems to enjoy sharing it with us so much.
One of the greatest things Kevin Smith does that most others don’t though is speak publicly. He does so many Q and A’s and is an incredible speaker and story teller. He’s even made DVD’s called “An Evening With Kevin Smith” and “An Evening With Kevin Smith : evening harder” which is some of the best work and is basically video from some of the Q & A’s he’s done. So I’ll leave you with this video of Kevin Smith talking about “Superman” and a script he wrote for it…