“Going to a Kevin Smith Show is like going to a bearded fat man convention.”
This tweet (which he read aloud) from @WingZombie started the Kevin Smith Q&A show and set the tone for a very intimate and candid night with legendary artist Kevin Smith at the Carnegie Library Music Hall in Homestead.
Unlike his last performance at this venue a year ago, Smith returned for a night of Questions and Answers from the fans in Pittsburgh. There were no rules and no restrictions, it was truly a night of honesty, surprises and a lot of laughter.
“We’ll talk about whatever you want to talk about,” said Smith.
People immediately started lining up at the four microphones around the room, eager for the chance to not only speak directly to Smith, but to ask that burning question they had on their minds. Questions ranged through all parts of his career dating back to “Clerks” and to the present with upcoming films and his current podcasts.
Before fielding questions, Smith reminisced with the audience about his love for our city. It was the first city he traveled to alone and he has frequently returned to visit a girlfriend at Carnegie Mellon University years ago and then to film “Dogma” and “Zack and Miri.”
Of course, the big topic of the night was Smith’s quest to inspire everyone in the room to record their own podcasts.
“Everyone in this room should be making a podcast,” said Smith. “Everyone in this room has a story to tell. It’s one thing to sit around and watch the fat man on stage, But you can do this too … just without the weight and the sweating. Stop being entertained and become the entertainer.”
Podcasts have been increasingly gaining in popularity, especially with the digital age. Smith returned to this topic frequently throughout the night. One might wonder how his career might have been different if podcasts existed before “Clerks.” Podcasts are simple to produce and much cheaper than film by a long shot.
“Film is the only art form where the artist has to say, I want to express myself— give me 20 million dollars and Ben Affleck,” said Smith. “Recording podcasts just let you sit around and remember the good times. I can sit down and record a conversation and then listen to it again 10 years later.”
While many questions dug deep into Smith’s history and career, some audience members choose to ask his opinion, such as his thoughts on the acceptance of the geek culture and how the internet has changed the concept of “geek” by making any item available in a moment’s notice via sites like Amazon and Ebay.
“The wonder and the hunt is gone,” said Smith. “The thrill of the hunt, that’s what made you a geek. I was glad to be part of something that cost to love it. Cost of friendships and the cost of hunting.”
Later, one audience member (clearly unhappy about the move of "Star Wars" to Disney), pleaded with Smith to take over the franchise with his own creative skills. Though flattered, Smith declined with a chuckle claiming he was not meant for science fiction.
“No, I am not the man,” said Smith. “There would be a LOT of changes.”
Though a hot topic on everyone’s mind was the next film brewing in Smith’s brain, “Hit Somebody” which is still in drafting phase. At one point, the film was written as a two part production and when he stopped writing and wanted feedback, he contacted an old friend, Jerry Bruckheimer, to take a look at the script.
Rather than going about the traditional method of contacting a legendary film direct, Smith attempted to reach out to Jerry himself (just to see how far he would get). Surprisingly, he made it all the way to Jerry with just a few bumps along the way and an email to the blackhole of office emails.
While thrilled with the script, Bruckheimer cautioned Smith that getting two films made would be extremely tough. In fact, Bruckheimer even clued Smith in that he has been trying for years to get Disney to make a hockey film of his.
Disney, the franchise that still reaps the rewards of the extremely successful hockey films “The Mighty Ducks” wouldn’t bite on a hockey movie by one of the worlds most successful artists in the businesses.
“If Jerry Bruckheimer can’t get a hockey movie made at Disney, how the **** am I going to get TWO,” said Smith.
So as for his next release, well it’s going to be a while. He’s attempting to get it down to one movie and … well, simply put it’s a tough job so there’s still no timeline.
While some might wonder why Smith doesn’t just push his films through knowing there are millions of fans worldwide that will flock to see them, to him it’s more important to tell the story. It’s always been about the story with him, never the money. Just like when AMC contacted him with their pitch of “Comic Book Men.”
When drafting the pilot episode, Smith and a team from AMC were going to trek across the country in search of the perfect location. But before the initial investment, Smith offered up filming at his own comic book store using his employees to show AMC just what the show could do. The pilot did so well, there was no need for a search – the show was already camera ready in Jersey and today, it’s a huge success.
“Comic Book Men is really the pawn stars of the comic book world,” said Smith. “Or Clerk’s 3 in reality TV.”
As Smith wound down the night, he left the audience with a few parting words.
“Surround yourself with ‘why not’ people,” said Smith. “Have the courage to try something you wouldtalk yourself out of normally. This is the time. Express yourself. There’s no excuse not to try. Face life knowing you’ve done everything you can or wanted to.”