Kevin Smith

From Academic Kids

This page is about the American filmmaker; for the New Zealand actor see Kevin Smith (actor).
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Kevin Smith at a comics convention in 2005

Kevin Patrick Smith (born August 2, 1970) is a American screenwriter, film director and comic book writer.

His films are known for their distinctive vision and dialogue, but are sometimes criticized for crude humor, limited attention to plot development, and technical amateurishness. Smith's films are often set in his home state of New Jersey and stuffed with pop culture references, particularly to comic books and the Star Wars movies. All of his movies, except his most recent, 2004's Jersey Girl, take place in the "View Askewniverse" and feature appearances from small time pot-dealers Jay and Silent Bob, the latter of whom is played by Smith himself.


Biography and film career

Smith was born and raised in Highlands, New Jersey and the cultural atmosphere of New Jersey has heavily influenced his films. As a young adult, Smith attended the New School for Social Research's creative writing program but dropped out. He then enrolled in the Vancouver Film School, but left that school as well.

Afterwards, Smith took a job as a convenience store clerk, which inspired the script to his first film "Clerks.". Gathering together a mere $27,000 from parents, loans and the sale of Smith's comic book collection, Smith and a friend from the Vancouver Film School Scott Mosier began production on the black-and-white film about two 20-something slackers, using friends and local actors and filming at night in the convenience store Smith worked at during the day.

"Clerks." debuted and was a huge hit at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival. After Smith won a court battle with the Motion Picture Association of America to get the film's rating lowered from NC-17 to R (the NC-17 rating, which would have allowed no one younger than 17 to see the film, was given by the MPAA almost solely due to crude dialogue), it became a success on the growing independent film circuit, and was eventually shown during non-concert hours at Woodstock 1994.

In 1995 Smith was asked to re-write the screenplay for a dormant Generation-X film, Mallrats, which Miramax could not get off the ground due to negative media scrutiny of Shannen Doherty. Mallrats chronicles the romantic difficulties of two slackers (Jason Lee and Jeremy London) who spend their days hanging around a shopping mall. Miramax hoped attaching Smith would in some part even out the hackneyed plot and subtext. A more typical Hollywood comedy than "Clerks.", Mallrats was a failure with critics and also at the box office and Smith even apologized for making it. Later recanted, the apology still haunts Smith since he did not make it sincerely, but as a joke at an awards show. Smith also complained in his question and answer session (An Evening with Kevin Smith) that Miramax executives pressured him to cut scenes, including a part where Jay (Jason Mewes) is masturbating over Gwen (played by Joey Lauren Adams) while she is changing clothes and ejaculates over the partition and into her hair. According to the scene, her hair would be altered as a result (as done in There's Something About Mary), but the executives claimed that the gross-out factor was too disgusting to be comedic. Smith, however, was able to obtain his Writers Guild of America card for re-writing the script.

In 1997 he released Chasing Amy, a more emotionally mature comedy about a man (Ben Affleck) who falls in love with a lesbian (Joey Lauren Adams), which gathered moderate acclaim.

In 1999 he released the controversial Dogma about a Catholic who works in an abortion clinic (Linda Fiorentino), selected by God to prevent two renegade angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) from returning to heaven by means of a loophole in Catholic dogma. As God had mandated that they could never return to heaven, the angel's actions would have made God wrong, causing a contradiction and resulting in the termination of existence. Despite the fact that Smith is a practicing Catholic, members of the church protested that the film was blasphemous.

In 2001 Smith released what he claimed would be his final film featuring Jay and Silent Bob, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, about the duo's attempt to travel to Hollywood to stop production on a film based on their characters. Littered with cameos from characters in previous Smith films, the director called it a "valentine" to his fans.

In 2004 Smith released Jersey Girl about the efforts of a man (Affleck) to raise his daughter after the death of his wife (played by Jennifer Lopez). The film opened to mixed reviews and ultimately suffered from the poor critical and box office success of the 2003 Affleck and Lopez film Gigli.

In 2005 Smith will begin filming a sequel to his first film "Clerks." entitled The Passion of the Clerks. Unlike the first movie the sequel is rumored to have a budget of $250,000 to $5,000,000. According to Smith, the only returning characters from the previous films will be Dante, Randal, Jay and Silent Bob. He will also join Jason Lee in Richard Kelly's Southland Tales.

Miscellaneous information

Filmography (as writer and director)

See also

External links

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