Kevin Smith has made an appeal to fans to donate to back his next movie, the long-delayed horror movie Red State, after heeding a suggestion made to him through Twitter.
There has been some backlash against the idea, and it doesn’t seem even close to fullproof, but this could prove a really interesting acid test of a new financing model for moviemaking. Smith is a famous enough director, with his first studio film (and first non-written director project) coming out soon, that he will garner much in the way of press coverage for the move. If successful it could open some doors for those with difficult and uncommercial projects to get to market.
The problem, as I see it, is unfortunately potentially multifold. First, there is a need to consider that you are making a commercial product which will seek to generate a profit. Taking donations to do finance this could prove troublesome unless Smith pledges to put all profits into his next project or redistribute the profits to the donors, effectively transforming them into investors. That would undermine the process in the first place to a degree, although the lack of clarity over how the system would work is, in itself, slightly troubling. If this is to work then Smith will have to put together a real-life business plan to outline his plans
The second major issue is the potential backlash which could come should the fans decide they want to have a little creative control over the project. If there are particularly hefty donors, which is a problem which could easily be remedied through creating an actual business plan and providing information on how much one could donate, there is a danger that, given they are currently not going to be expecting any kind of return, that they will want to get special consideration on their creative desires. Any sense that this would be turning into a crowdsourced movie could well end up with a supersize disaster/experiment which Smith won’t want to get involved in.
However, if successful, it does put the fans into the power seat, at least in a very small way. The people who actually care enough to have a movie made, people you could argue are true fans of moviemaking, would have a hand in the industry, something which may drive young filmmakers to start to consider the method for financing their own smaller pictures. Though it would require a significant amount of money, and a strong donation infrastructure, to succeed, this could definitely start a grass roots movement in moviemaking if the right intentions are able to take precedence.
There has yet to be a great use of the internet as a distribution model reaching a wide audience for new filmmakers. What is out there appears often too niche or exclusive (the very cool but uber-artsy Garage, part of The Auteurs) to really capture the imagination. I have only cynicism that the likes of Michael Bay will ever be defeated by the small, heartfelt independent moviemaking which keeps the art form rolling, but at least a black eye could be dealt to the industry if enough smart, committed people can take the germ of the idea from Smith and run with it.
Looks like George Clooney could end up directing the Hamdan vs Rumsfeld project, with Matt Damon starring.
Precious is beginning its Oscar buzz season with a win in Toronto.
Apparently Gavin Hood wouldn’t mind making a shitty Magneto movie too.
Jack Kirby’s estate has begun delivering copyright termination notices to a whole bunch folks, including Marvel and Disney, relating to characters the late creator was responsible for.
Five movies which make Film School Rejects hungry.
Declaration of Independence: The Ten Principles of Hybrid Distribution from Indiewire.
Johnny Depp is reportedly less interested in another Pirates movie without Dick Cook at the helm of Walt Disney Studios.
MTV has an exclusive excerpt from Kevin Smith’s SModcast book.
Henry Rollins voicing a Batman character? Fuck, yeah!!
Twitch has an interview with Guy Maddin at TIFF about Night Mayor.
Venice Golden Lion winner Lebanon has been purchased by Sony Pictures Classics.
District 9 has made it over to Nigeria.
Debate has begun to rage, at least for me, over the move by Kevin Smith to drive out of the View Askew-niverse to take on his first major studio movie, A Couple of Cops (or possibly its original title of A Couple of Dicks). Ben Child, writing for The Guardian, wrote on the subject last week, at least partly-lamenting the move by the ‘one-time doyen of indie comedy’.
I would argue immediately that this is no sell out. Yes, its a big budget studio movie. Yes, he used to work within his own movie universe and will have to compromise on that. But, he is developing as a movie-maker. Clerks 2 and Zack and Miri Make a Porno both feature much more visual spark and maturity of writing than has been seen in previous years. His work on Zack and Miri in particular did indicate a shift into a new type of comedy. Still keeping in his verbose gross-out conversational style and blending that with the gutteral world of pornography, it may not have endeared him to the intellectual glitterati. But no doubt that he is developing and moving on. Working in Hollywood with a new producer and a commitment to learning and adapting could see Smith return to his muse-land with a greater degree of skill than ever before.
A better question that Child poses is whether the world needs Kevin Smith even more. His deconstructive dialogue on relationships, male insecurity and geekdom have been co-opted by the Apatow crowd which, unfortunately for Smith, has a stronger stable of performers than his troupe. Child points out too that the verbose language and constant deconstructive commentary has been taken further into the leftfield by the mumblecore crowd. It is a disturbing thought that perhaps Smith has become somewhat obsolete. His Evening With… series is very good but perhaps through there, and through his Smodcast and online obsession, is where his influence now lies.
Zack and Miri is one of his best movies, even employing one of the key Apatow players, seemingly with a view to both working with a like-minded comedian and also to tap into Seth Rogen’s box-office potential. It’s perhaps ironic that, as identified here, Apatow has made Smith’s Zack and Miri possible despite Smith influencing Apatow (something Smith agrees with). Maybe the casting of Rogen indicated his desire to shift closer to the mainstream but maybe, just maybe, there just isn’t any space for Smith anymore and those to have been influenced by him, notably in the Apatow crowd and in the mumblecore genre, have taken the place which may well have been his had he been braver earlier on. It would be a sad filmic world to me to see Smith, one of the best screenwriters of his whole generation, fall by the wayside when, in my opinion, he still has much to give.
Kevin Smith is to launch outside of his comfort zone (no View Askew, no Scott Mosier producing) to direct A Couple of Cops, a buddy movie to star Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. Could provide an interesting view on how Smith is developing as a director and possibly give the world another really good buddy movie which, on premise, seems closely in the vein of late-80s Shane Black-style stuff.
Zack Snyder is forming an all-girl cast for Sucker Punch, about girls in a mental asylum who fantasises about escaping with all her inmates. Likely to star the likes of Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Evan Rachel Wood and Emma Stone. Doesn’t specifically make me too excited but I would be interested to see what Snyder does next because he handled the entire Watchmen saga, the build-up and movie, with aplomb.
Megan Fox has begun to take up some new offers which are likely to offer very little new to her current persona. Fox has reportedly joined the cast of Jonah Hex alongside Josh Brolin and will star in Fathom, an adaptation of the comic series. Cinematical reports that Fox has been a fan of the comic series for some time and is helping to bring it to the screen, likely making her the dream girl for many, many JoBlo readers around the world. Maybe however she should get a little praise for understanding that she has limits and using her talents in the most lucrative way possible. Hats off to Ms Fox.
Leonardo DiCaprio is to team with Christopher Nolan on the latter’s post-Dark Knight project, Inception. the film has been described as a science fiction piece ‘set in the architecture of the mind’ and was also written by Nolan. You’d have to suggest that this won’t garner anything near the level of business Dark Knight did but it’s good to see Nolan is nourishing his filmmaking skills elsewhere, something that would have been advisable to Sam Raimi back in the day and would most likely have provided the world with better Spiderman sequels.
Talk is rife on what the next Danny Boyle movie will be. Reports emerged early in the week, very speculative, that he could direct the next James Bond. Later however, it seems he is closing in on doing a remake of My Fair Lady, putting of another project called Hanna, about a teenage assassin.
Also in the news: Jim Jarmusch’s Limits of Control has a trailer; Mickey Rourke, Vince Cassell and Alice Braga will star in an adaptation of Paulo Coehlo’s 11 Minutes; A viewpoint from Slate on how a Tarantino Watchmen would look; Barry Sonnenfeld will direct an adaptation of Korean film Scandal Makers; Keira Knightley is to star in Never Let Me Go, an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s amazing novel, which you should probably read instead now Knightley has signed up; A three minute clip of The Boat that Rocked has turned up; Ed Zwick is to direct In the Heart of the Sea by Nathan Philbrick; Ridley Scott has talked a little more about his Monopoly movie.