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Smith's Sundance Circus

Michael C. here from Serious Film to see if I can cover a media circus without joining it.

As most of you have no doubt read Kevin Smith followed the Sundance premiere of his film Red State – which reportedly received mixed/negative reaction - with a thirty minute diatribe against the bloated studio system. During the rambling speech Smith brandished Wayne Gretsky’s hockey stick, quoted Harvey Weinstein, and stated that because of the studio system if he were getting his start today he wouldn’t even bother. The main event was when he held a previously publicized auction for the film rights to Red State and then bought the rights himself for twenty bucks, declaring that he would distribute the film himself by personally taking it on the road around the country Gone With the Wind style.

It’s hard to see how this enterprise represents a genuine alternative for aspiring filmmakers since the traveling show is only financially feasible due to the massive cult following he’s grown with nine films released with the studios he’s rejecting. Still, he’s not crazy for being frustrated with a system that impersonally crams every movie into the same cookie cutter campaign in the hopes of grubbing a decent three-day opening before disappearing forever.

The only part of the event that gave me a visceral negative reaction was Smith’s announcement that he will retire from filmmaking after his next movie. Not that I’m crushed at the thought of losing Smith’s work - I’ve had a live-and-let-live attitude towards his movies for a long time. It's that even if Smith fulfills his admirable promised to become the patron saint of indies, you just don't push back from the table when you still have chips in play. If you can still get your films made, you get them made. Everything else comes second. 

Amateur video of the whole event can be seen here. Smith has also been tweeting prodigiously ever since if you are curious for his reaction to the reaction.


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Reader Comments (6)

Smith has lost it. But I like the poster!

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

he is weirdly weirdly defensive. some of his tweets are just straight up delusional about how things work or how they should work.

January 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I don't like this. At all. Just as he's starting to develop backbone (can't say "grow a pair" since I sometimes fell like I want to cut mine off, can I?) and actually become a brave filmmaker, he's deciding to quit? This whole thing (breakdown, roadshow, announcing retirement) just SCREAMS "cynical marketing ploy." And I'm genuinely interested in Red State, but that's more because I thought it was a sign of a, frankly, still rookie filmmaker trying to become an expert, not that rookie filmmaker on his last legs. So...I'll see his last two and be absolutely p***ed off if he actually follows through on this.

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Wildly off-topic, I know, but I am about to start my second ever "Biggest Oscar Snubs of the Decade" list. Looking back at every injustice we (the Oscar followers) have suffered, the omission of Ewan McGregor from 2001's Best Actor shortlist still resonates as the most infuriating. While I'd like to go on and on, I really shouldn't complain on the heels of such a great batch of nominees. Though it is that time of year...

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDevin D

My contender: Audrey Tautou, probably my WINNER for 2001. Compared to Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts she has the HARDEST JOB. (In close ties, degree of difficulty determines winner. Creating a believably REAL PERSON > guiding the audience through a mindbleep > creating a character cut wholly from the cloth of cinema's magic.) There's no question at the end of Moulin Rouge! that you've been watching archetypal cinema characters. Well realized cinema archetypes, but archetypes all the same. It gets a bit heavy handed and "BRONZE" level for me. Amelie may not be reality, but it's certainly closer than Rouge!

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

First, Smith has had this rant before when things didn't go the way he wanted - Second, didn't we also get the same rant from Vincent Gallo when his film was panned in Canne?

What cute little tantrums the boys are giving....IF we believed them at all it would be so much more entertaining.

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJ
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