Red State director Kevin Smith abandons standard film-promotion practices


Kevin Smith has found alternative means of promotion using new media.

Juice Columnist

I’m an avid Kevin Smith fan, and one of his books, My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith, never leaves my side. I regularly watch his films, and quite frankly, I like this dude. I want to give Smith a round of applause for what he is currently doing with his new movie, the dedication he shows to his fan base, and his retirement from filmmaking.

Red State, one of Smith’s final films, tells a story about three friends on a mission to pursue their interest in having group sex with an older woman. Arriving at their destination, they are met with a violent fundamental family that resembles the Phelps family of the Westboro Baptist church. This clash sparks obvious conflict, which results in a standoff similar to what happened in Waco Texas in 1993.

This flick strays away from what Smith is known for; that funny toilet and drug humor we all know from Jay and Silent Bob. There is a dark feel in this movie that isn’t present in any of Smith’s other films.

Another unusual thing (besides the dark, horror-style of Red State) is that Smith is promoting and distributing the movie all by himself. He showed it at the Sundance Film Festival this year, then purchased it from himself deciding that self-distribution was the way to go. This is the same thing that Mel Gibson did when he released his successful film, The Passion of the Christ.

Smith just finished a two-month tour of the film by renting it out to various venues and showing it on a projector that he’s been carrying with him on his tour bus. After each screening, he conducted question and answer sessions. He’s going back to his indie roots and I’m proud to see that his last few movies will be released and made in the same style that made him as a big shot in the first place.

When making a big budget picture, you have to use the budget the studio gives you. Once the movie is created you have to market it, obviously. That’s just more money piled on top of the regular budget, and seeing as filmmaking is a business, making money on a picture is necessary. When you tack on, say 10 million dollars to market a film like Red State (which is only a 4 million dollar film), that equals another million dollars that the movie will have to generate to be deemed successful from a monetary standpoint. On top of that, not many people are aware of Smith’s films so they wouldn’t likely know about new movies of his in the first place. This bugged Smith due to the fact that his films don’t receive a ton of revenue.

After Smith’s first film, Clerks, he developed a solid fan base. So instead of spending tons of money marketing a film that will only be seen by people who follow him, Smith decided to promote the film through his fast growing “smodcast,” which is his podcast network.

He’s using new media to touch his fan-base in ways that studios wouldn’t by informing fans who listen to his various shows about the film tour. He’s literally telling people to go see his movie. I like that idea more than a commercial on TV or a billboard on the street. I feel that Smith is asking me to personally watch something he created. I’m sure all his fans feel the same way.

After Red State, Smith (a big hockey fan) plans on making one final movie called Hit Somebody, which is based off a famous song by Warren Zevon about a hockey player who wants to get “one more goal.”

Red State isn’t being released until Oct. 2011. In the meantime, I hope Smith will keep doing what he’s doing and finish his filmmaking career with a big bang.