Earlier this year at Sundance Film Festival, Kevin Smith shocked everyone with his film Red State (the camera is finally off the sticks! And there are no talking heads in this bad-boy), as well as with his own personal, live performance that went along with it. Some people called it a stunt, some people questioned why he had called “the auction” when he had no intent on selling it, members of the press got pissy because he wouldn’t do a press conference like everyone else, others wondered if it was true if Harvey Weinstein was ever in the building… and rightly so.
There was a lot going on that day and quite obviously, a lot that none of us knew about. We were seeing the results of Kevin Smith developing into a new kind of filmmaker and finally getting to the point where he was able to separate from his father figure Harvey Weinstein, and tell him to fuck off. It’s only now that we really understand exactly how far Smith has come. He is currently part of the group of pioneers (Robert Rodriguez has something similar going on at Comic-Con) that are forging the way forward for independent filmmakers in a style that I’ve been in awe of since Sundance. Indie filmmakers have been trying to release their films like Smith, but it took someone ballsy and bold enough and with an established name to really break new ground.
Smith cleared up a lot of questions as to what was really going on between him and the Weinsteins before, during and after Sundance and why he did a lot of the things that it he did to promote it. Some of them worked, some he didn’t need, all of the added to the fun. Of course, he told us (as you can see in the video below) about him developing to courage to do this in a quite long albeit entertaining story that went back much further than we all knew. He was extremely open and honest about his wounds and expressed how personal the whole experience was to him. After all, Harvey brought him up and Smith even named his production company “The Harvey Boys” after him. only to later be completely insulted by him during his big moment. Though there was a silver-lining. By Harvey doing that, Smith no longer was able to rest on a production company and lean on Harvey, he had to step up his game and in doing so has helped him reach a new level as a filmmaker and also as a distributor for indie films.
He spoke to us for about 40 minutes at was was supposed to be a 15 minute, intimate “meet and greet” with the press yesterday at the Movies on Demand center, where he also announced that Red State would in fact he available on MOD and other VOD platforms on September 1st, before the film is released in theaters. Directly after that the film will have a short release in theaters (if you’re in LA, it will be at the New Bev) and a short time after that it will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Some people think that without a huge theatrical run that a film is not a success, but the truth is, theatrical runs are mainly about ego, not profits or viewers. It takes more money than most films can ever make back just to get it into theaters and it costs more than most viewers can afford. Theatrical runs really make very little sense for artistic, risky, lower budget films like Red State (and MANY others). By taking the film to the people via VOD and DVD, while at the same time having it offered for those cinefiles that already love and follow Kevin Smith on Twitter, he’ll reach his audience without spending a dime — there’s no need to market to the people who will already they seek it out. AND, the idea of taking it on tour with Smith doing Q&A’s gives the audience something more to be excited about, again without him having to spend money.
Everything about this film, from the way that this film was made to how he’s getting it to the people, shows that it’s not about ego, but about working with the way that indie film is going and getting his film in front of viewers for a reasonable price. THIS, is the future of great indie cinema and makes the $5 million viable once again! it also poses a threat for bigger films, because if we can get GREAT films at home, for less, why would be pay more — but that’s a discussion for another day.
One of the most exciting things that Smith talked about was something that I have just learned (on a much smaller scale) with my film Do Not Disturb about marketing a film. A lot of people are tempted to say “leave it to the professionals” but “they” don’t always know what’s best and sometimes “they” make some stupid choices (Ex: Kevin Smith ad on Lifetime for Women). Without spending a dime and giving into the system (which would mean that he would have to make back over $40 million to recoup his $5 million that the movie cost to make), he would use his own voice and time to spread the word and get his film in front of people without wasting millions of dollars. Because of that, he’s already making money.
Now, not any indie filmmaker has his reach nor his ability to front the kind of money to do the things he’s done, BUT by movies of this caliber with filmmakers of his level doing what he’s doing, it will help to change the way that indie films and therefore mainstream films get to the public. It’s not just about the big studios anymore. It’s about the films and the filmmakers, or at least headed in that direction…
We also highly recommend that you join us in watching Smith speaking in Hall H tonight at 5:45. I’m sure he’ll speak more on this topic and just about anything else he feels like. If you can’t make it into the Hall, we will do our best to record “An Early Evening with Kevin Smith” and have it for you on the site as soon as we can.
Part 1/5 – “Red State” at Sundance (and he does “blow it” here. he just couldn’t stop himself):
Part 2/5 – Harvey Weinstein at Sundance:
Part 3/5 – Protesters and Creating a “Big Bang”:
Part 4/5 – New Way of Distributing Indie Films:
Part 5/5 – Benefits of VOD: