I have been a huge fan since I caught up with a lot of Smith films around about the time Dogma came out on video, so it's with a bit of a heavy heart that I heard Kevin Smith say that his next film 'Hit Somebody' would be his last as a director.
This was in his speech at the Sundance film festival which you can see here. It's 26 minutes long, but having seen some of the Kevin Smith Q&A DVD's it pales in comparison. What the speech is mainly about is distribution of his latest film Red State, and how with this film, Smith is going to break the mould and take his own film out on the road in March, to try and make back the $4 million spent on making the film, before the full US release on October 19th. Where that leaves the international market is another question, but for that reason alone, I'm pretty chuffed with this decision. Not only is it different and interesting for a director of his place to be taking a film like this in such a direction but it is a direct 'fuck you' to the system as it is.
However, the decision has it's critics (as do Kevin Smith's talents as a writer and director) and it doesn't take long to find someone who isn't keen on the idea. However some, like this IFC article, seem more concerned with the fact that it's not a new idea. Twitchfilm even go on to slate his remarks about anybody being able to release a movie in the same way being an entirely plausible idea, "Will this prove, as Smith states, that 'anyone can release a movie'? Not at all. It proves that people with a pre-existing and very large following can release a movie provided that they are willing to spend an extended period of time on the road with it using their own celebrity as a substitute for traditional marketing dollars. It's a smart decision for Smith given the size of his fanbase and the general way he is viewed in the mainstream industry post-Cop Out but hardly a game changer in any way."
This kind of thing, I think it's a little unfair on Smith, who has taken to doing something most directors in Hollywood would shy away from, especially considering within the same speech he announces he is stepping down from the directors chair after 'Hit Somebody' (which I'm more excited about to be honest) to move into helping distribute the new kid on the block's movie. The media at this point are in a frenzy over the speech but I think everyone at this point has made up their minds on Smith and nothing he does will edge them any closer to changing their viewpoint.
Like I've said before, I am a huge fan of Smith and loosing his talent as a director seems crazy to me, especially given his new found lust for making original films out-with his safe zone, where 9 films deep he decides to make a horror, when all he's know so far is comedy-drama. It's an admirable move followed by an odd one, followed by another incredibly admirable move. So, while I'm going to hate the day that Smith's director's chair is put away for the last time, I still have love for the reason he seems to be doing, and I'm confident that if he had another story to tell down the line he would come back out from 'behind the scenes' (who am I kidding, when has he ever been that?) and direct another classic film. Be it 'Mallrats 2' or a war epic, I'd be front and centre when it hit the screen.