Kevin Smith, Inspiration

clerks

Joe Rogan had Kevin Smith on his show today. The conversation reminded me exactly why I’ve always loved that fat man in an overcoat. He’s a fan that made it. He got behind the rope and still seems amazed by it.

I have a strong memory of seeing Clerks for the first time. I was with an old girlfriend (and still good friend) and a couple of our D&D playing cronies. We went into the video store and grabbed it off the shelf. The weird old man checking us out leaned over and said, “snowball” before cackling himself into a brutal coughing fit.

I had no idea he almost died cough-laughing at a blowjob joke.

By this time in my life, I was a seasoned underground film fan. Clerks had a ton of buzz around it in certain circles. Word on the street was it was sort of about Star Wars. We pushed the tape in and watched it, howling laughing. It was immediately rewound and played again. I remember the goofy grins on everyone’s faces.

Someone had made a movie for us.

It was shitty and the acting was bad. But the words were electrifyingly funny. The whole thing looked as vulnerable as amateur pornography. You knew every single person in that movie must have been his friend.

Mallrats came out shortly after. It definitely wasn’t the greatest film of all time, but it had continuity and lovable characters. It felt like Star Wars for super dorks. It also had some real teenage comedy gross out gags. It felt so totally like something I could make.

I had been making videos with my friends for years and I decided that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I wish to god I had been born a little later or technology had been a little better at the time. I spent one semester in college trying to make movies with 16mm soundless, back and white film. I wanted to use my video camera, but the professor wouldn’t let me. So I made a three minute movie of a punk rock girl kicking a TV set in. I’ve only seen it once, but I still have the reel somewhere.

Film school in New Orleans was totally worthless so I dropped out. Years later at Berkeley I actually took quite a few film theory classes. The Rhetoric Department is  connected to the Film Department there, so I could’ve double majored, but this twat in my very first class talked me out of it. Worst advice ever.

A good rule in life is to never listen to anyone younger than you or who lives with their parents.

I’m glad to see Kevin Smith so active in the world of podcasts. When he started his, he made such a case for it being a thing to do that I desperately wanted to have one, too. It took a long time for it to happen, but mine is up and running, and as my co-host Marc would say, it’s really fucking good.

On this last episode with Joe Rogan, Smith opened with a tremendously good piece of advice: If you want to make something, don’t let anyone stop you.

He continued on with Rogan for a while, touching on creativity quite a few times. I love his idea that he is really making films for ultra small, niche audiences and himself. So his latest, to me nearly unwatchable, Yoga Hosers, is apparently made for tween girls. I am deeply suspicious that Kevin Smith may be one of those emotionally disturbed adult My Little Pony collectors.

Smith’s message of DIY and friendship through creating things is tremendous. If you’re young at heart and have a few close friends that are too dumb to stop you, you can make some real magick happen.

I wish I had gotten much more serious about my creative projects at a much earlier age. But late is better than never. You never know what kind of life you’re going to have. My shit could completely blow up in a year, randomly. I might land a sweet promotion and not have time for anything but stacking cash and buying Mrs. Lott fast cars. Things are real fun right now, so I’m uncharacteristically optimistic.

I think you should be too. It is an unbelievably savage world, but it favors hominids that take chances. That tree branch is right there for your monkey ass hand to snatch it.

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