Kevin Smith's full 'Red State' speech to studios at Sundance online

Kevin-SmithImage Credit: George Pimentel/Getty ImagesYou’ve read about Kevin Smith’s speech to those who screened his new film, Red State, at Sundance, the one in which instead of auctioning the film to a distributor live from the stage, he announced that he would use his fanbase, Twitter followers, podcast listeners, people skills (to cut deals directly with theater owners), and a road tour to release the movie himself. Watch it here. It seems his decision to leave studios behind traces back to the advice his personal hero Wayne Gretzky got from his father/hockey teacher, Walter Gretzky — “Don’t go where the puck’s been, go where it’s gonna be” — and what he’s learned from 17 years in the business, particularly from Harvey Weinstein (“Never give up a good thing, hold onto it yourself”). He made Red State for $4 million, and the idea of selling it to a studio who would pour $20 million into marketing was “obscene” to him. “Why the f— does it cost five times the amount the cost of this movie to open the movie?” he said. That studio model is soul-crushing, he said: “It took seven years for Clerks, a movie that cost $27,575 to go into profit. When that’s happening — when you’re spending four times, five times the amount to market a movie or open a movie than you are to make it — that’s not an inspiring game at all. No kid can get into it now. I look at the f—in’ film world now, and I’m like, there’s no way I would have tried. I wouldn’t try Clerks today because it’s impenetrable. Even if you’re lucky enough to make a movie, how the f– are you gonna open a movie? It takes so much f—in’ money and s—. So much time, effort. And everything is fetishized about that one f—in’ three days. They’ll spend $30, $40, $50 million just for three f—in’ days. I spent 25 days workin’ on this. I’m not gonna f—in’ sit there and bank everything on three days. Like, there’s no point.”

“True independence,” Smith said, “isn’t making a film and selling it to some jackass. True independence is schlepping that s— to the people yourself.” The Red State USA Tour kicks off March 5 at Radio City Music Hall. If they sell out their initial string of dates, Smith said they will have essentially made back half of their money already. The goal is to make back the budget by the time the film his theaters Oct. 19, the 17th anniversary of the theatrical release of his first film, Clerks. “We’re gonna play the game straight. We’re not gonna spend a f—in’ dime on marketing.”

Read more: Kevin Smith debuts blood Red State and severs relations with Hollywood

Comments (16 total) Add your comment
  • Devin Faraci

    He went on an unhinged rant, imploding before the audience. He’s a paranoid crank at this point.

    • Roekest

      What? Kevin Smith has always been like this. You think different because all you know is “Silent Bob”. Why don’t you turn off that copy of Clerks you’ve been watching for 15 years and learn about the Man, The Legend, The Fat Bast*rd Lunchbox…Kevin Smith. Snoogins, bitc#es!

  • shadow lord

    He may be a crank, but he is right. Studios where saying films like star wars and other big films never made money. All because they put a huge marketing program behind them.
    The system in Hollywood keeps films and film makers lock in a vice. In he is right too do it on his own. Good luck Kevin.

  • JC

    He’s becoming seriously unhinged. Humiliation at the hands of Southwest Airlines and resentment towards Judd Apatow has turned this guy into self-parody.

  • CaliJ

    The best part of this is,crazy or not…He’s going to turn a profit.Look around and you’ll see business as usual only benefits those already reaping the benefits.Go get em’Kevin !

  • Katie

    Trying something new isn’t “becoming unhinged”. More power to him, IMO.

  • JDD

    I am curious as to why some of you think he is going off on a rant. Because he swears? He is speaking as he always has. All he is doing is the same thing artists in pretty much every other form of artistic outlet is doing. Taking the product back and retaining control of his creation.

  • Katie

    I’m sure we could all go on a “rant” about whatever inefficiencies we deal with at our own jobs/field any day of the week. And he’s right. It’s ridiculous that it costs 3 to 4 times what the movie cost to promote it.

    • ZantrieGaul

      Happy 4th, Sweetie!I’m sure the day will be full of fun and hearty latguher. Bask in it with your boys! Hugs,C.PS Now I can’t wait to see that movie. Thanks for the tip!

  • Kim

    I totally agree with him. Why does it cost so much to market a movie? With “Tron: Legacy” I think the movie cost $170 million to make (nothing to sneeze at), but $300 million to market it. What’s up with that?

  • Slave I

    I would expect nothing less from one of my all-time movie heroes. He is not on a “rant”, nor becoming “unhinged”. He is, in fact, proving that he is not a sell out and still fights for new, fresh film making during the Hollywood reboot era. Thank you, Kevin. You’re still my hero 17 years later!

  • Martin

    I think he’s right on about certain points but he’s just now coming to this? He’d be fine if it wasn’t for a string of bad performing movies, he’d not have seen this as “the way”. It’s like Prince in a way. He realizes that if he “owns” his art, he’ll be able to make more money. It’s easy though for him at this point. He’s built his fanbase for 17 years.

    The 1st timers who buy into it will be the one’s in for a shock.


    “Step Off” available on DVD March 15th!

  • Annabelle

    Kevin Smith is absolutely right about the ridiculous excesses and dead weight within the studio system. It’s an old dinosaur carcass propelled along by annoying parasites.

  • Stipler

    BRILLIANT! And now I am spared from seeing the best parts of a movie edited for a commercials over and over. Word of mouth is always the best buzz for a movie! Always ask why things are done – creativity at work.

  • Rich

    Kevin Smith has the right idea, but is going about it the wrong way… The average ticket prices for his Red State movie showing are way too high. Who would pay upwards of $70 to see a movie and a Q&A?

  • Yeti Bubbles – Bubble Shooter

    Excellent write-up, I will bookmark this.

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