Cinema Perfecto Magazine - Issue 1

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.

Seventeen 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.

When 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.

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