Filmmaker Kevin Smith opens up about life, movies in Phoenix

Kevin Smith was pissed.

He’s not anymore, now that he’s older, wiser and has become “more centered” (his description of his journey into the world of smoking marijuana), but at one point in his life, Smith was incensed.

“I would [do anything] to make ‘Chasing Amy’ (his hit 1997 film) all over again,” Smith said. “You can’t always do ‘Chasing Amy.’ I’m a happy guy now. When I wrote ‘Chasing Amy,’ I was a 26-year-old emo kid. But now, at age 39, I’m very content. Happy wife, happy life, beautiful kid —a body of work that’s bigger than me. Everything worked out.”

Smith, director and writer of such game-changing films as “Clerks” and “Dogma,” stopped by a packed Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix for his touring show, “An Evening With Kevin Smith,” Saturday night to do a three-hour-long question and answer session.

During the show, Smith talked about all aspects of his life and career, from working with Bruce Willis on his most recent film “Cop Out” to his recent quarrel with Southwest Airlines to his obsession with comic books — and anything else the audience was or was not curious about.

Smith’s most recent film, “Cop Out,” the first film he did not write, but only directed, did not do so well with many critics and fans. Smith felt that it was a worthwhile experiment.

“Before, I approached [film] as life blood and now I’m just approaching it as like, ‘OK, it’s an art form, let me approach it as such,’” he said. “And even though people are like, ‘Art form? You made ‘Cop Out’ you [explicative],’ ‘Cop Out’ was a way to start that process for me. It was a way to jump in and see if I could work for others in a world where I was not completely in charge.”

Smith’s filmmaking often involves crude jokes and politically incorrect material, and he’s faced with a lot of rejection and overall confusion as to why he does what he does. He said he gets that he’s not mainstream but feels people should take a different approach to looking at him and, in the bigger picture, looking at life.

“It’s a world of ‘Why?’ I don’t want to be surrounded by yes men, I just want people that say, ‘Why not? Let’s just do it! It hasn’t been done, let’s give it a shot,’” Smith said.

Often, in Smith’s offbeat films, many of his characters are big fans of a certain THC-laden herb, frequently leading people to assume that he himself is a major stoner, something he was not — until recently.

“I used to be like ‘Oh, I smoked a joint, I don’t really feel it,’ and now, there is THC coursing through my body at all times,” Smith said. “It’s not to say that I’m always stoned, but I’m not a teenager. I don’t get high, but I’m very centered.”

“I was so up my own ass in the pre-weed days in terms of ‘What are they saying about me? Where is my standing in the community? I got to keep working, to keep moving. I’m treading water,’” Smith said. “Then you start smoking weed and you’re just like ‘I made ‘Clerks,’ f--k it!’ It also helps that I’ve got longevity on my side.”

Smith also talked at length about his many experiences with filmmaking and how he started out making “Clerks” with $27,575, all of which came from various credit cards. He said he felt that when you really want to get into making films, there’s only one person you can depend on.

“If nobody’s handing you money for your scripts, then take destiny in your own hand and do it yourself,” Smith said.

Reach the reporter at pmelbour@asu.edu


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