Comic-Con


I’m so glad I’m at the Comee-Con!


Photo credit Tony Weidinger

Resuming his duties as the Hall H closing act of Comic-Con’s Saturday night, Kevin Smith once again took the stage and treated fans to over 2 hours of stories, that ranged from his burgeoning podcasting ventures, sexual acts with his wife (Jennifer Schwalbach), and even his soon-to-be ending directorial career.

Starting off, just in case anyone didn’t know the night was going to be the very definition of NSFW, Smith amused himself (and the audience) by seeing what he could get the sign language interpreter to sign. His personal favorite was “cock sucker” and after a few more choice vulgar words, he then started taking questions from the audience.

Asked about how he maintains a healthy relationship with his wife while still turning out great movies, Smith joked it doesn’t always work, pointing to “Cop Out” as an example. As a word of advice, he said, “Hands down, get a Fleshlight” (google it if you’re not familiar … just don’t google it at work). He pointed out that every one of the ladies in the audience has a vibrator, for use as a replacement boyfriend standing by, so guys should go and get themselves that Fleshlight.

The next question asked Smith whether he’d be doing more directing or podcasting in the future and this led to one of the more newsworthy items he revealed. As fans know, Smith’s work on SModcast has grown in the last two years and he now puts out hours and hours of content a week via the podcasting world. And as he put it, “Filmmaking is something I did because it looked fun and doable, and now it’s been 20 years. I’ve done it, I’m happy, but I don’t need to do it anymore”.

As such, Smith revealed that after his upcoming hockey film, “Hit Somebody” (which he talked about more later), he’d be concentrating fully on his podcasting empire and stop making feature films. He does have a few TV pilots in the works, one of which he just submitted to AMC television under the title “Secret Stash”, which he describes as “Pawn Stars in a comic book store”. The other pilot is still being kept under wraps but will feature many of the people working with him at SModcast. Also, Smith is excited about podbookz.com which he is involved with and allows podcasters to have their broadcasts transcribed and turned into books.

Next up to the mic was a man whose friend had gotten Smith to sign a “Twilight” poster for his wife and he had done so with the words “Fuck Twilight”. After the applause died down, the fan said that as a result, his friend hadn’t gotten laid in two years and wondered if Smith would hook him up with a Fleshlight. Smith laughed at the idea that he’d “cock-blocked a lad for two years” and jokingly offered up one his his own Fleshlights which were back stage: “Fleshlight. Never leave home without it because you never know”. His last piece of advice was to have the guy “tell his lady to stop being such a fucking harpy”.


Photo credit: Jose Zuniga

Kevin was then asked to name the most important pop culture element in the last 20 years and as a filmmaker, Smith chose the work of Quentin Tarantino. Watching “Reservoir Dogs”, he marveled at the scene in which all these “gangsters were sitting around a table talking about a Madonna song, which taught me that you could have dialogue that didn’t push the plot”. He complimented Tarantino for making cool movies and being a brilliant writer and named him and the Coen brothers as his directorial role models.

This led to Smith describing his current venture, “Red State”. He described it as a cross between a Tarantino and Coen brothers film and mentioned that it would be getting an Academy Award qualifying run at the New Beverly theater in August, for the sake of the actors’ performances, which would also feature Smith doing a Q&A afterwards. Fans who can’t make it to L.A., or to any of the stops Kevin has been making with the film in cities nationwide (and soon in Canada as well), will have the chance to watch the film on Sept. 1st via Video on Demand.

“I’m not going to make you leave your house to see a fucking movie”, Smith said. He’s proud of promoting the film in this grassroots manner, saying that doing so has made it easy to make back the relatively small $4 million budget, especially because there weren’t any added marketing costs.

He then showed a 5 minute clip from “Red State”, using on-screen text to apologize for it not being more footage from “The Dark Knight Rises”. The plot deals with a family of religious fanatics who arm themselves to the teeth and have a showdown with government officials, a la the ATF vs. David Koresh in Waco, TX. The family is based on the Phelps, who people know better as part of the Westboro Baptist Church (who have made plenty of news recently protesting everything from Smith’s films to funerals).

The clip showed to the Hall H crowd featured Michael Angarano attempting to escape the compound, as ATF agents John Goodman and Kevin Pollak try to resolve the situation peacefully (not helped by the actions of local sheriff Stephen Root).

The film is clearly a departure from anything Smith has done before, featuring camera-work, cinematography, and themes fans haven’t seen the director attempt to this point. Describing the film, Smith says “It’s not a comedy, like ‘Clerks’. It’s a horror movie, like ‘Jersey Girl’ “.

Photo credit Tony Weidinger

Asked by a couple of Edmonton Oiler jersey-wearing Canadians about “Hit Somebody”, Smith revealed that the film was based on the Warren Zevon song of the same name. It will follow a minor league hockey player who gets a chance to play pro hockey in a rival league to the NHL. Spanning 30 years of the character’s life, Smith describes it as the “Forrest Gump of Canada” and plans to shoot in Detroit at the beginning of 2012.

While clearly excited about the project, he was especially amped about getting Alan Rickman to not only narrate the film but possibly also play Lord Stanley (for whom the NHL championship trophy is named), as the film will have flashback-like segments interspersed into it. In fact, Smith hopes to bring back as many actors he’s every used in his previous films and include them somehow in “Hit Somebody”, seeing as this marks his last film.

Fans can read a few chapters of the script at SilentBobSpeaks.com (here and here) and Smith plans to release the entire script ahead of shooting, to get feedback from fans and interact with them. However, unlike “Red State”, “Hit Somebody” will probably be more traditionally released, as Smith foresees a budget more in the $15 to $20 million range because filming a story that spans so many years will require far more in the production side of things.

While he spent a lot of time talking about “Red State” and “Hit Somebody”, a few questions were far easier to sum up quickly:

Whose idea (Kevin or his wife, Jen) was it to name their daughter Harley Quinn (one of the villains in the Batman universe)? Smith said it was actually his wife’s idea, after reading The Batman Adventures: Mad Love by Paul Dini. He almost backed out of it upon Harley’s birth but Jen stuck to the idea.

What film was the hardest to pitch? “Chasing Amy” because in doing so, the studio responded, “Ben Affleck can turn a lesbian? Bullshit!”


Photo credit: Jose Zuniga

The night ended with a hilarious description of the Phelps family’s reaction to “Red State”, knowing that they were the basis for it. Smith talked about how they had come to Sundance to protest its debut there and that Kevin and his friends weren’t going to let that opportunity pass them by, after already seeing how they operate while protesting him in Kansas City a few months earlier and calling him names like “fag-enabler”, which Kevin wears like a badge of honor much to their chagrin.

After a call out to fans to show up and protest the protest, Smith was especially excited to see what Shirley Phelps (the defacto spokesperson of the group) would do when confronted with his friend Malcolm (whom fans know and has been described by Smith as a large gay ‘bear’ – a term for larger, hairy gay men). However, it wasn’t just Malcolm that he hoped would provide a great reaction but his proud display of a glitterfied sign proclaiming “Dick Tastes Yummy”.

Smith described a few more signs, and remarked that the local high school students who showed up to join in the anti-protest had ingeniously countered the Phelps’ inserting homophobic remarks into a version of “God Bless Hates America”, with Lady Gaga songs. Once the laughter in Hall H had died down from these notions, Smith then said that Shirley’s reaction to the sign had been one of clear disapproval. However, that reaction left him wondering and at a future “Red State” screening to which Smith had provided the Westboro Baptist Church with free tickets, so they could see the film after protesting it, he asked Shirley whether her look of disapproval had been because she disagreed with Malcolm’s lifestyle or because ‘dick doesn’t taste yummy’. Sadly, there was no answer but the idea of asking her sent Hall H into another fit of hysterics.

And with that, Smith thanked the audience and it was all over. The crowd was one of the largest I’ve seen attend one of his talks, as even following the infamous stabbing incident and a packed Marvel panel last year, Hall H wasn’t completely full … though I couldn’t see any empty seats this year. It was a great balance of giving fans an insight into his future endeavors and regaling them with hilarious stories that almost seem too good to be true.

If you’re coming down to Comic-Con 2012, remember to keep Smith’s annual Hall H talk on your radar. It’s one of the few events that feels spontaneous and lacks that press release sheen that coats most panels. And more importantly, it has yet to disappoint. Too bad I’ll have to wait another year to do it again.