The line stretched along the sidewalk in front of the New Beverly
Cinema in Los Angeles. It was a sold-out, one-night only screening
of Kevin Smith's new movie, Red State, and a Q
& A, or "a real 3-D experience," as he later called
it, was to follow. At the front of the line were the die-hard
Kevin Smith fans with Clerks t-shirts, trench coats or hockey
jerseys. A lot of them were young, mostly guys, but there were
more women than I expected. Smith had taken an unconventional
approach to distributing his new film, but it seemed to be working.
years ago, Kevin Smith screened his first film, Clerks,
at Sundance. The conventional wisdom at the time was that
you needed at least $250,000 to make a movie. Here was a 23-year-old
who had quit film school, maxed out some credit cards and
used the convenience store where he worked as a set to create
a $30,000 cult classic. After the screening, the buzz was
that "this kid is going to do something someday."
He thinks he's finally delivered.
Red State premiered at Sundance, he sold the film to
himself for $20, leaving potential distributors stunned in
their seats. For a four-million dollar film, Smith didn't
think spending twenty million more on advertising made any
sense. "Let's not spend anything. Give up the sexy! It's
art. You are going to lose people. Everyone can't dig it."
With these ideas in mind, he released the film under his own
Smodcast Pictures, making a statement to the film industry
and to aspiring filmmakers that you can get your film out
there without standing on the shoulders of giants. Sure, the
average American might not know about Red State, but
the man who made it has maintained full rights and is slowly
making his way out of the "red" as he tours the
country to screen it.