Kevin Smith will get some help distributing Red State, not that he needs it
If you were unable to take advantage of the opportunity to give Kevin Smith approximately $80 to see his self-distributed horror film Red State on its recent cross-country tour, not to worry: You’ll soon be able to get a version of the same experience for much less when it’s screened at your local theater in a four-hour edition, complete with a live-via-satellite broadcast of a Q&A (with questions submitted via Twitter) and a follow-up live podcast. True to form, Smith made the announcement himself in a long blog post, unwinding the sort of alternately self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating diatribe that has fast become his idiom.
In it, Smith spends many paragraphs recounting his controversial Sundance presentation, a grand statement for art that he more or less makes out to be the filmmaking version of Martin Luther nailing the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door. He also talks about how what some saw as an "implosion" was really a "reinvention," all part of the “Kevin Smith 2.0” of the last six months that has seen him inking book and TV deals and even losing 70 pounds. And yet, while he celebrates his victories, Smith also rails endlessly against the “hacks” who doubted him—a doubt that convinced him he was “on the right fucking track," but, y'know, also they suck and are out of touch and should shut up. The condensed version of his post, basically: Red State already made its $4 million budget back through all of those private screenings, foreign sales, and—even though it sort of undermines his DIY philosophy—a new multiplatform deal with Lionsgate, so fuck you.
Smith, consciously or not, also cops to something that made so many skeptical about his strategy in the first place, acknowledging, “The only skill I have as a filmmaker—the marketable whatsit I bring to the table that gets people out of their houses and into a movie theater? It’s the talking thing I do after the movie’s over.” Smith says that for years the critics “would write shit that diminished me as a filmmaker because I didn’t fit into their limited definition of what a filmmaker is,” apparently decrying the anachronistic view of director as someone who makes films that speak for themselves, rather than someone who will “refuse to let the film end when the credits roll; that’s when I come out and continue the story.” So Smith is essentially drawing the same conclusion that our own Nathan Rabin did when he took in Red State: that Kevin Smith’s self-distribution revolution really only makes sense for Kevin Smith, because the audience isn’t really paying to see a Kevin Smith film, so much as hear Kevin Smith talk about why no one likes Kevin Smith’s films.
But fortunately for Kevin Smith and his fans, that’s exactly what you’ll get in the upcoming Red State screenings scheduled for this October, provided your local theater chain agrees to “jump into digital bed” with Smith and save themselves from their otherwise “empty buildings.” In fact, Smith not only proclaims that he can sell the place out, he also promises, “The concessions loot you’ll rake in that night will make you richer than the pharaohs (my people like to eat snacks).” Should your local theater be shortsighted enough not to pick up the four-hour Red State extravaganza that he’s put together and sell a shitload of Raisinets, you can also catch the film on video-on-demand through Lionsgate, which Smith says was his first choice for a distributor back before he decided to strike out on his own. Of course, then you’ll be watching just Red State without Smith to talk to you afterward—and judging by this post, even Smith doesn’t seem too convinced that the movie can go it alone.