“Don’t let anybody tell you different, man: The main goal in life careerwise should always be to try to get paid to simply be yourself.” – Kevin Smith
I stumbled across a set of DVD’s called “An Evening With Kevin Smith” and thought: “Hmm, this might be interesting!”. Some of you probably recognize him from one of two things, being the host of “Comic Book Men” or his role as Silent Bob.
Didn’t really know anything about the DVD’s except that he’d be talking about movies with a bunch of students asking him questions. So, what the hell let’s check ’em out!
I got really into it and had to take a break after 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours. Each talk is something like 3,5 hours! There were so many great insights into the business mixed with stories from his life. Some including the cast of “Comic Book Men”! Like when Kevin & Brian went to a protest of Kevin’s movie “Dogma”.
There was a moment where he talked about the script for a new Superman movie called “Superman Lives”. After reading the first script he ripped it a new one, this apparently impressed the executives so much that they had Kevin come back several times to rip the script in front of new people each time.
When he got the gig to write a new one he was asked to meet with the producer. This meeting did not sit well with Smith who was pretty confused after hearing the producer’s 3 requests:
1. There will be no Superman suit.
2. There will be no flying.
3. There will however be a fight scene featuring a giant ass spider.
Well, after two rewrites it was announced to Kevin that Tim Burton had signed on to the movie. However, Tim would not take the script. This lead to Kevin leaving the project. The project obviously went down the toilet thank goodness. I mean, Nicolas Cage was supposed to play Superman. I shit you not.
Cut to Kevin a year later watching a movie. Well, the producer of that movie was the same guy who would’ve produced “Superman Lives”. Kevin nearly shits himself (presumably from laughter) when, lo and behold, Will Smith battles a giant ass spider in “Wild, Wild West”.
Well, the movie didn’t get made but a documentary on it got funding on Kickstarter and hopefully it’ll be out May 1st 2015! Check the trailer below!
If you get a chance, I seriously recommend you to watch these talks with Kevin Smith. They can really give you an interesting perspective on the magic of Hollywood and some of the more or less necessary bullshit creatives need to face during their careers.
If I had to choose one thing as the most important take away from them it’s this: Tell your story.
It sounds so simplistic (and it is!) but that’s what everything he says boils down to. You’ve got to tell your story. Sometimes in the business of creativity people will tell you that the audience won’t like this or that and that you should take it with a grain of salt. What those people want to do is to please as many people as possible, or rather not risk alienating anyone.
Now, not all advice is bad. We all need to listen to even the harshest of critiques because there might be something there that we can learn from. If someone makes a valid point then take it, it doesn’t mean you need to change anything right now if you feel that it’s right.
What we creatives want to do is usually the opposite. We want to challenge people and ask them: “Do you see what I see here?”. What usually happens is one of three things:
A) They like it.
B) They hate it.
C) They don’t give a crap.
What do we do? We take the A’s. There is no reason to chase the other peeps approval. Best case scenario, they like your work and you’ve compromised the story you wanted to tell. Is that really worth it? Just… Just trust me here. Take the A’s!
Another story Kevin told was about making a compromise and cutting a scene where a guy was masturbating in a fitting room and the sperm flew into a girl’s hair. The girl turned up later in another scene with a weird hairdo. Someone told him that it was too much and that nobody would find it funny. So, he cut it. Well, turned out a couple of years later that most people disagreed…
Sometimes it’s just better to stick your fingers in your ears and go: “La-la-la I can’t hear you!”. Choose those moments wisely. I mean, you don’t want to come across like an asshole?
Stop, stop doing that! Always comes back to bite you, doesn’t it?
Here are some quotes from Kevin Smith to round this one off!
“The writer crafts their ideal world. In my world, everyone has really long conversations or just picks apart pop culture to death and everyone talks in monologue.”
“Storytelling is my currency.”
“Any book is a self-help guide if you can take something from it.”
“Everybody’s got one killer story. It doesn’t take talent to tell that story, it just takes experience.”
“There’s something to be said for failing. It’s not the failure you feel, it’s the failure that people project when something disappoints. You’re back to ground zero, where there’s no expectations, and that’s where I like to be.”
“In Hollywood you just fail upwards.”
“When somebody is paying you to talk about yourself, you’ve won.”
“I didn’t get into film to win Academy Awards. I wanted to have a conversation with the audience.”