Written by Robert O’ Doherty
Welcome to a new segment called ‘Freeze Frame’. This is where we take a look at the life and work of directors, actors, cinematographers etc.
Like most people with a dream, we have that one person (or more) who inspire us to take action and chase our goal(s) in life. For me, that individual is a man who was born and raised in Red Bank New Jersey – Kevin Smith. I recall catching bits and pieces of Dogma as a young teenager; a film that grabbed my attention due to silly antics of Jay and Bob, including a shit demon (what teen wouldn’t find that captivating?). I was confused, but curious when I stumbled across Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back at a rental store. I stared at the box thinking, ”How come these two keep appearing in movies together?”, I just didn’t ”get it”. You gotta understand kids, back then, I didn’t have access to the Internet, so, I had no idea that these films took place in a fictional universe called ‘View Askewniverse’. Anyway, I rented Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and laughed my pimply face off.
It wasn’t until 2006 (at this stage in my life, I started to become fanatical about film) that I picked up Clerks X on DVD. I enjoyed the flick the first time around, but soon enough I found myself re-watching it over-and-over. What was it about this black and white, low-budget film that kept drawing me back? I guess it was the relatability. The way the Randal and Dante would shoot the shit with each other, it was familiar to the way I conversed with my own friends. I was working in a shitty job and dealing with irritating customers, so were these loafers. Clerks for me, was like Richard Linklater’s Slacker to Smith. I’m going to quote Smith The Film That Changed My Life by Robert K. Elder to sum my own thoughts on Clerks: ”It was the movie that got me off my ass; it was the movie that lit a fire under me, the movie that made me think, “Hey, I could be a filmmaker.” And I had never seen a movie like that before ever in my life.” It wasn’t soon after I saw Clerks, I got familiar with the man behind it.
I never knew the actor who played Silent Bob was also the director, a director who could talk up a storm without loosing your interest. I was surprised with his honesty with an audience while making everyone in the room laugh in hysterics (An Evening with Kevin Smith). The personality of Smith is quite vivid throughout his movies; a story with a message that’s brought out through monologues containing crass, smart and witty humor, with the exception of Red State – which takes a more serious route – but still, this movie reflects Smith’s struggle with the studios. If I had to sum of Kevin Smiths style, I would say each movie is a reflection of himself; reflection of who he is at that stage in his life.
It’s funny because I prefer to listen to the man who built a podcast empire (Smodcast) than to pop in one of his flicks these days. Don’t get me wrong, I love most of Smith’s films, with the exception of Cop Out – a film that feels really distant. I’m glad he followed up with Red State; a film that showed growth and positive change in his directing style. Unfortunately Hit Somebody will be his retiring feature, but Smith will have much to offer through many other areas such as; podcasting, books, comic books, TV, acting etc. That’s what’s inspiring about the new jerseyan, he doesn’t confine himself to one particular outlet, he uses directing as a means to expand into other forms of media.
They say you should never meet your hero, but fuck that, I tried to meet/interact with Kevin Smith twice when he held a Q & A during 2010 and a live podcast (Jay and Bob Get Old) earlier this year. In 2010, I was ever so close to asking him a question, but the show was running over a half an hour at this point and it needed to be wrapped up. After the podcast, I waited outside the back to bump into Kev, but he didn’t stick around for a meet and greet. Don’t worry folks, one day…one day!
(Third times a charm)
To me, Kevin Smith is an open book that some people dislike, while others, like myself, find it fascinating that this larger than life personality can be so candid about the extravagant Hollywood machine and about oneself. That’s a lesson I’ve taken from Smith; be an open book, let people know who you are, because if you stay closed, no one will give a shit about who you are.