Kevin Smith has enough indie director cred for a whole film festival—he funded his first movie, Clerks, by maxing out his credit cards. So it makes sense that when the time came to get traditional filmmakers on board with Web video companies who were looking to compete with linear television, Smith would be first in line. He took time out from a busier-than-ever schedule to talk to Adweek about his new project, Spoilers (a non-review review show about movies and how awesome they are.) He also gave us the lowdown on working with Hulu and a few other projects he’s had in the works. Also weed.
Adweek: So this is pretty informal, if that's all right.
Kevin Smith: I'm stoned, so it's very informal on this side.
Sounds good. More or less I figured I'd just ask you to walk me through your day, if that's cool.
Absolutely. I hit my office and start smoking and that's where the good work comes from. I really started doing this at age 38. If I'd started in my youth—what pressures does one have to relieve at that age, really?
So it's a big help to you.
Finding something that allows you to kind of focus and organize? Yes. I had no idea there was this community of productive stoners. Here on Zack & Miri Make a Porno [which Smith directed in 2008] I was hanging out with one of the most productive stoners of all time—Seth Rogen. He's this kid who's baked all the time, and he gets more done than me. I'd never done it before and then after Zack & Miri I was in the house alone with the wife and we were like a couple of teenagers; somebody had given us some pot and so I pulled it out of the safe—it was all crumbly and shit— and I liked who I was on it.
But it's a totally new thing.
Yeah, for a long time I didn't want people to call me a fat lazy stoner; I've got fat and lazy covered. But as long as you're producing, nobody can give you any shit. Since I started smoking I've become super f-cking productive. By the time most people I know get up at 9, I've produced two podcasts. And I'm working on the hockey movie that just keeps getting longer and longer.
You always have that inhibitor, you're always going "Wouldn't it be cool if somebody did this? Oh, wait, somebody's probably already doing that, or who are you, or whatever." And if you don’t do that, one of two things happens. A) Someone else does it sooner or later and you go, man I wish I'd followed through or B) you drop dead one day and you never tried something really simple like a TV show. Hulu, they're kind of like weed.
They make you creative?
They're like, "Let's try it," only without the drugs. They're experimental—it's like a college.
And one of those ideas you had while stoned on Hulu was Spoilers.
We asked ourselves, "What if we did this with a bunch of guys who know about as much about movies as a bonafide critic?" It's not a fat guy and a skinny guy, it's a fat guy and forty other guys, and they’re all just normal guys. If you have a job in this business, you govern your f-cking tongue. You don't work for Disney, you can say whatever the f-ck you want. And you put some of these guys in front of a camera, and man! I’ll go on and say "I defy you to be as entertaining as me."
So it's not something you could do elsewhere?
They don't put guys as fat as me on TV. Look at Drew Carey! He used to be a fluffy dude and then they put him on The Price is Right and they went, "Drop some f-cking weight."
What do you listen to while you’re working?
I will plug in my iPod and generally I listen to a playlist of old 70's and 80's music called "Feel Good." It makes me feel good. But it’s all stuff I’m embarrassed about.
So obviously I have to ask you what’s on it.
Uh, “Sailing” by Christopher Cross, “Sad Eyes” by Robert John, “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb, “Reminiscing” by Little River Band. When I play music I tend to go extremely mellow.
It sounds like that fits with the new lifestyle, though.
Absolutely, although it’s not mellow for anyone else. It's the same 22-song playlist every time, and for me it's just white noise, and I don't even know it's going on, and everybody else in the room is like, "If I hear Neil Sedaka's 'Laughter in the Rain' one more time I'm gonna slice your throat open."
Do you still have time for comic books?
I do. DC kind of flipped on me—I’ve always been a DC guy. We were working on The Widening Gyre when they rebooted the whole universe and it wasn’t like the Marvel Ultimate line where they left the other universe behind. So I said "What happens to the continuity?” and they said, “We don’t care.” Which I couldn’t believe, because I got so much shit about continuity working on the first book. So now Walt [Flanagan, the book’s artist and Mallrats’ Steve-Dave] and I are going to make it a little bit different and maybe take the last couple of issues and do our final Batman story.
Well, I hope you do something daring. Have him come out of the closet or something.
Nah, man, Grant Morrison’s champing at the bit to write that story.
Have you read any of the controversial Before Watchmen stuff they’re doing now?
This is what I did for it—they came to me back in the day. Dan DiDio and Jim Lee came up to me at the Cop Out premiere and they said "We're working on the next Watchmen series," and I said, "Awesome, is Alan Moore doing it?" and they were like, "Of course not." And I said, "Wow, you guys have a lot of balls," and they said, "Well, that's what we want to know—do you have the balls to write it?" And I was like, "No, man." I mean I respect those guys but all over the Internet they'd be like, "First he made Cop Out and then he shit all over Alan Moore's legacy!" Those are huge f-cking shoes to fill.
This interview has been edited down from notes for cohesion and continuity. Some of the questions have been changed slightly to give the reader a better sense of the subject at hand.