Kevin Smith has been a hero filmmaker to me for a while now. My first exposure to his work was Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which I didn't really love, and is actually my least favorite of everything he's made, save for Cop Out, which I still don't think is that bad. Once I saw Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma, I got what he was about, and I loved it. His latest production is a flick called Red State, and it looks like nothing he's ever done before. But even more than the film itself, Smith is also trying something new with the distribution model. Below is a fantastic speech he gave after the premier of Red State this past Sunday at the Sudance Film Festival.
If you don't watch the whole above video, I understand. The salient points are that he's not even engaging in the usual marketing and distribution of the studio system. He has taken it upon himself, and is doing a cross country tour of the film, and following each screening with a Q&A with him, and star of the film Michael Parks. Many people criticized Nine Inch Nails, as well as Radiohead, when they self released their latest albums, saying that they were only able to be successful because of the audience they had already built. I don't disagree with those critics, and I don't disagree that Kevin Smith has built quite a following, but I think what Reznor, Radiohead, and Smith are doing is important because they lend an air of legitimacy to independent media distribution, which makes it that much easier for the rest of us still working towards a career.
If you don't love Kevin Smith, or don't like the look of Red State, I seriously encourage you to find other ways to support independent artists in any way you can. One of my friends introduced me to a singer songwriter named Ani DiFranco, and here's a lady who has never touched any studio system. Or Zoe Keating, who's an all indie avant garde cellist, or any number of other people. Blood, sweat, tears, and the support of those who love it should be the foundation of any art that is to be shared, and that's exactly what these folks are doing. It's kinda beautiful.
Here's the trailer for Red State
And here's a link to the Red State USA Tour: http://coopersdell.com/