kevinsmithcoupleofdicks

By the way, you’re the first person I’ve ever interviewed that used the phrase “dick and fart jokes” and then “leitmotif” later on.

I like to mix it up.

I know you do.

I like to mix it up. No man is one thing. It’s like M.J. said, dude. Black or white.

[Laughs] Are you enjoying a lot of creative freedom with Warners? Because some of the people I’ve interviewed, like Jody Hill especially was saying he had no idea that Warners would be that supportive of Observe and Report.

They are pretty filmmaker friendly. I don’t wanna jinx it and shit, but I’m still waiting for the friction. Look, maybe it’s coming, because maybe I’ll turn in my version of the flick, my cut, and I’m all proud of myself, and they’re like, “You have no idea what you’ve done here! This is terrible.” Then all the sudden life becomes hectic, but right now they’ve been so filmmaker friendly, dude. So friendly! It’s crazy. They had rule on this movie: don’t go above this budget. And when we needed more money, and I went to them, I was like, “Can we get more cash?” and they were like, “No. Absolutely not.” And I was like, “Well, I guess I may have to put some of my salary in,” and they were like, “Okay, thank you,” and they took it.

That’s what happened to Todd Phillips, too.

Yeah.

They gave him a number and told him that he could use whatever actors he wanted for The Hangover, that he could do whatever he wanted, but that he couldn’t go over that number.

Do you know what I like about it, dude? I’ve had training in that because that’s the way the Weinsteins work. That’s the way Mirimax used to work. It was like, “Here’s your number. Go apeshit. We’re hiring you because we like what you do, but just stay in this box because if you stay in this box, we’re gonna turn a profit no matter what you do. Even if it’s a piece of shit.” So, you know, that’s the way I’m used to working. Finding a number and staying in the box. That Warner Bros. would apply it, I think is interesting, but it shows you where the studios are right now. They’re like, “Clearly the old model doesn’t work anymore so we’re gonna change it.”

What do you mean by The Old Model?

In terms of just over-spending. Let’s just fucking spend $70 million every movie. At some point, someone was telling me that the budget of Must Love Dogs was $50+. Must Love Dogs, dude! That’s because most of these studio flicks, they give them like 12 weeks of pre-production, and for a movie like ours, A Couple of Dicks, a quasi-actioner at best – it’s like Lethal Weapon with 50% less action, we didn’t need 12 weeks pre! Every one of those weeks of pre costs money. So I was like, “We don’t need that shit, dude.” We had about 5 weeks of pre, max. And the studio was like, “You’ll never do it! You can’t do that! You need 12 weeks!” and all the sudden we started, and they were like, “Oh, it turns out you don’t need 12 weeks.”

So I think I may have accidentally ruined the curve for other filmmakers at Warner Bros., but you know, to me it’s like, why would you waste all this time and money? And we came in under budget on the flick. I was really happy about that.

What was the budget?

The budget was, like, essentially, I forget what the figure was before the tax rebate but after the tax rebate, I think it was about $35-$37 million depending on what the music budget ends up being. So essentially it was about as much as Jersey Girl. God willing we won’t have the same result…

Once again, you undermine your own marketing skills because “Die Hard with 60% less action” belongs on the poster.

It does, doesn’t it?

Totally.

I think “Die Hard” belongs on the poster. Just call the mother fucker Die Hard 5. The one where he’s got a black friend. And people will show up.

Wait. He’s already got a black friend. In Samuel L. Jackson.

The other one! Where he’s got a new black friend!

That doesn’t read as well, but I see where you’re going with it.

But you know people will be like, “Shit. I’m going if for no other reason than because these mother fuckers are clearly honest. They’re putting it right on Front Street. I know exactly what I’m getting. This is the most blatant title since Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Let’s not go to this either!”

“The actor from Live Free or Die Hard directed a movie.” I think that should be the selling point.

Totally.

kevinsmithzackandmiri

Speaking of which, this is sort of random, but I was checking out your movie credits yesterday, and I’m noticing a trend. I think you are thanked in the Special Thanks from filmmakers close to 50 times.

Get outta here. Really?

And these are probably movies that you’ve never even heard of.

I know Waiting… I heard Waiting… all the time. People are like, “The dude from Waiting… thanked you!” and I was like, “Well, that makes sense.”

Why does that make sense?

If you look at Waiting… it’s like, there was certainly a model that they had at one point.

You have Cold Hearts, Overnight Delivery, have you heard of these movies? You’re thanked in Donnie Darko, a movie called Reality of Life,  a few shorts, a movie called For Catherine. A movie called Doogal where you do the voice of a moose.

I do the voice of a farting moose in Doogal.

Does this phenomenon surprise you at all?

Some of the thanks I’d never heard of. I mean, I knew the Cold Hearts one because I knew that dude in Jersey. And he actually made a good-looking movie. I remember that dude was like, “Hey man, you made it!” Some people at the beginning were like, “You are where I wanna be.” Like the little dog in the Warner Bros. cartoon, like “Spike! He’s my friend! He’s so big and strong!” He was definitely one of those guys, and years later I saw his movie, and was like, “Jesus.” Rob Masciantonio. He made a far better-looking movie than I ever have in my life, and I was like, “Wow! This dude! All this time the little dog was far more talented than the big dog!”

So you thanked him on the next movie you made.

What would I thank him for? “Thanks for being fucking better than me!” Then I’d have to thank everybody in this business in my credits.

But does the phenomenon surprise you? Do you understand it?

Look, I understand that Clerks is the movie that launched a thousand bad movies. That much is true. Because everyone sees it and kinda reacted the way I did when I saw Slacker, which was like, “This counts as a movie? Fuck, I can make a movie.” And everyone went off and did it, and you know, yeah, everyone can make a movie, but what they don’t tell you is that not all of those movies are going to be remotely watchable. Some are. Some aren’t. And it’s not like they’re not talented. It’s just that some shit seems like it makes a lot of sense on the page and then all the sudden, you put it into practice and it just lays there. I mean, on every flick there’s at least a half an hour of scenes that are cut out. At least in my shit. I don’t know about anybody else. But that’s because it just lays there, but we get lucky more often than not. Our average is pretty good. The shit that works is higher than the shit that doesn’t work in terms of what we’ve shot and what ends up in the movie. But that’s true for everybody. It’s just that some people, their percentages are off. You know. There’s no movie that is wholly bad. I would argue that every movie has at least one good idea somewhere, something that validates its existence. Even something like Bloodsucking Freaks, when the guy’s like, “Her mouth shall make an interesting urinal!” That line has stayed with me since I was 11-years old. So it’s like, thank God that movie was made so I can remember that line. So every once in a while at a party, I could whip it out.

Does that mean you thanked Richard Linkater at all? Or Joel Reed?

Yeah, at the end of Clerks I thanked Richard Linklater, Hal Hartley, Jim Jarmusch, and Spike Lee for leading the way. “For leading the way,” I wrote. And then Martin Scorsese apparently told Ileana Douglas, who he was dating at the time, when he watched it, “Oh, they led the way?”

[Laughs]

I always thought that was kinda funny. She told me that. She was just like, “You wanna hear a Marty story?” I was like, “I would love to hear a Marty story.” She said, “Well, it involves you.”I was like, “Then I really wanna hear it!” She told me that story. I always thought it was funny.

But you didn’t thank Joel Reed for Bloodsucking Freaks?

I didn’t! Because I haven’t used the line yet. The moment I crib it for a movie…but I credit him in life. I’m always like, “Hey, man, that was from Joel Reed.”

“Copyright, Joel Reed….

“That was Joel Reed classic.”

...1976.”

“Copyright, Joel Reed.” Fantastic.

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