The news broke last Friday that writer/director Kevin Smith’s last movie will be Clerks III – ending off his career with the movie he began it with. From all accounts, the news broke a little earlier than planned, although Smith did reveal some more details about the film’s production and plans on the latest episode of his Hollywood Babble-On podcast with Ralph Garman and long-time producer Scott Mosier. The episode can be heard here, but in case you don’t fancy listening to the two-hour long show (although you should as it’s really funny and insightful), here are the highlights:
Smith starts off by talking about the genesis of Hit Somebody and how it became a TV show which is taken from episode 99 of Jay and Silent Bob Get Old. He goes into a lot of detail about the disappointment of his Judd Apatow-esque Zack & Miri Make A Porno and how it did just “regular Kevin Smith business” (around the $30million mark domestic) and his subsequent idolising of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky – which lead to the idea of a 30-year spanning double feature, Hit Somebody. After completing the first script, he decided to contact producer Jerry Bruckheimer (because he is a massive hockey fan and the two worked together on Coyote Ugly) for some advice on who to speak to for funding. Bruckheimer told Smith that it was the best thing he’d ever written (which Smith also agrees with), but informed him that he’d also been struggling for 10 years to get a hockey based movie made by Disney.
With this news, Smith realised that if one of Hollywood’s biggest producers couldn’t get his hockey movie off the ground then there was no chance for him. With that, he began to trim the two scripts down so that he could source funding from other people but was reluctant to do so as it tampered with the story and nuances. It wasn’t until his best friend Jason Mewes suggested that Smith turn the film into a TV mini-series that Hit Somebody stopped being Kevin Smith’s swansong from filmmaking. As an update, he has been working on the TV version of the script for 6-8 months and they have a TV network interested (but he can’t say who).
With the void of “final movie” needing to be filled, he decided to revisit the movie that put him on the map in the first place – Clerks. However, this has led to problems of its own. As it currently stands, Kevin Smith and his lawyers have been conducting an audit of the Weinsteins due to some complications with the money from Clerks II. In particular, producer Scott Mosier and Jeff Anderson (who played Randall in both movies) are at odds with the Weinsteins and are reluctant to work with them until all of these issues have been resolved. It sounds like a really complicated and messy situation that could slow down the production of Clerks III. Smith has met with Bob Weinstein and has pitched the movie to him and is also considering going back to Miramax who own the rights to the Clerks name (the loophole being they are making a sequel to Clerks and not Clerks II). Although, even if they do go with Miramax, they still have to deal with the Weinsteins.
But even with these dealings and meetings, the fact still remains – Jeff Anderson isn’t willing to sign on and Scott Mosier doesn’t want to work with the Weinsteins until the audit of Clerks II is finished. While losing Mosier would be a disappointment, the film cannot be made without Jeff Anderson who Smith believes is the embodiment of the Clerks movies. However, I think Smith is quietly confident he can convince him (once the Weinstein issues are done and dusted) as Anderson was reluctant to join Clerks II because he feared it would taint the love people have for the original movie but ended up loving the movie.
While the podcast deals mostly with the issues between the Weinsteins and Kevin Smith and company, Smith did reveal some details of the story for Clerks III.
The film, like the first movie, is to be made in black and white, although Smith doesn’t want to just make it digitally to then remove the colour in post. The basic plot he did reveal (which wasn’t much) suggests that it will revolve around Randall (which will be nice considering Dante was the focal point of the previous two movies) as a man who begins to question his life of obsessing over movies (was it all worthwhile?). According to Smith, of the few people he’s told the story too, he hasn’t been able to finish it without crying by the end. He also goes on to say that Clerks was a movie about his twenties and Clerks II was about moving into his thirties, so Clerks III will be his thoughts on life as a man in his forties. The other key thing to note from the podcast is that the film is to be crowd funded either via their own site (which they had planned to do for Red State) or Kickstarter.
Too long; didn’t read? Basically – Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes and Brian O’Halloran are on board for Clerks III, but Scott Mosier and Jeff Anderson are yet to sign on for the movie and I don’t think Smith wants to make it without all five components in place. The story is finished and no script has been written but he would like to aim for a Sundance premier in 2014 to mark the 20th anniversary of Clerks. Back when Hit Somebody was to be his final movie, he suggested that a lot of people he’d worked with in the past would be making an appearance in the movie so I think it’s fair to assume that we’ll see cameos from Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Walt Flanagan, Bryan Johnson, Joey Lauren Adams, Ethan Suplee and maybe even Marilyn Ghigliotti and Lisa Spoonhauer (the female leads from the original movie). We should also assume (given the ending of the movie) that we’ll see Trevor Fehrman and Rosario Dawson reprising their roles from Clerks II.
I highly recommend listening to the podcast to hear all of this straight from the horse’s mouth as it’s a great insight into the inner workings of the Hollywood system and how people make money. Clerks III would be the perfect movie for Kevin Smith to end his career on and it being released on the 20th anniversary of the original movie would be a nice end to his tale, but getting there won’t be an easy task. With only two years to deal with the audit, convince Jeff Anderson, complete a script and secure enough crowd funding, a 2014 release date for Clerks III could be quite the stretch.