Nationality: American. Born: Highlands, New Jersey, 2 August 1970. Education: Attended the New School for Social Research in New York for one semester, and the Vancouver Film School in British Columbia for four months. Family: Married Jennifer Schwalbach, 1999; daughter: Harley Quinn. Career: Enjoyed critical and commercial success with his first feature, Clerks, 1994; hired by Jon Peters to script Superman Lives, but his script eventually was rejected, 1995; established View Askew production company with Scott Mosier; owner of Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash (comic book store), Red Bank, New Jersey; created Clerks: The Animated Series, ABC-TV, 2000. Awards: Cannes Film Festival Young Cinema Award, Sundance Film Festival Filmmakers Trophy, and Deauville Film Festival Audience Award, for Clerks, 1994; Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay, for Chasing Amy, 1997. Addresses: View Askew Productions, 69 Broad Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701, U.S.A.; c/o Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash, 35 Broad Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701, U.S.A.
Films as Director:
Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary (short) (+ sc, ro as himself, pr)
Clerks (+ sc, ro as Silent Bob, co-pr, co-ed)
Mallrats (+ sc, ro as Silent Bob)
Chasing Amy (+ sc, ro as Silent Bob, co-ed)
Dogma (+ sc, ro as Silent Bob, co-ed)
Drawing Flies (Gissing, Ingram) (ro as Silent Bob, pr)
A Better Place (Pereira) (pr); Good Will Hunting (Van Sant) (co-ex-pr)
Vulgar (Johnson) (ro as Martan Ingram); Independent's Day (Zenovich—for TV) (as himself); Overnight Delivery (Bloom) (co-sc, uncredited)
Big Helium Dog (Lynch) (exec pr); Tail Lights Fade (Ingram) (exec consultant)
Scream 3 (Craven) (ro as Silent Bob); Preacher (Talalay) (exec pr); Coyote Ugly (McNally) (co-sc)
By SMITH: books—
Clerks and Chasing Amy: Two Screenplays, New York, 1997.
Dogma: A Screenplay, New York, 1999.
Jay & Silent Bob: Chasing Dogma, Portland, Oregon, 1999.
Marvel's Finest: Daredevil Visionaries, New York, 1999.
Clerks: The Comic Book, Portland, Oregon, 2000.
By SMITH: articles—
John Pierson, "With the Conversational Collaboration of Kevin Smith," interview in Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes, New York, 1995.
"Film Fraternity," in Filmmaker (Los Angeles), no. 4, 1995.
"God Bless the Mall of America," in Premiere (New York), July 1995.
"Malleable," interview with M. Ingram in Film Threat (Beverly Hills), December 1995.
"Shannen Take 2: Director vs. Star," in Film Threat (Beverly Hills), December 1995.
"A Conversation with Writer and Director Kevin Smith," interview with C. Duritz Jr., in Film History (London), no. 2, 1996.
"Obsession Confession," in Details (New York), November 1996.
"Strip Teased," in Details (New York), November 1996.
"Lovelines," interview with R. Pride in Filmmaker (Los Angeles), no. 3, 1997.
"Mr. Smith Goes to Emotion," interview with G. Fuller in Interview (New York), April 1997.
"Mr. Smith Goes to Hollywood," interview with Mark Salisbury, in Premiere UK (London), December 1997.
"Mr. Smith Goes to Church: Religious Spoof Dogma Came out of Crisis of Faith, Filmmaker Says," interview with Bruce Kirkland, in Toronto Sun, 7 September 1999.
On SMITH: articles—
Smith, C., "Register Dogs," in New York, 24 October 1994.
Taubin, Amy, "The Sweet Sell of Success," in Village Voice (New York), 1 November 1994.
Peary, Danny, "What's the Catch," in Movieline (Los Angeles), March 1995.
Taubin, Amy, "Before the Fall," in Village Voice (New York), 5 September 1995.
Wheeler, K., "Have Script? Will Travel," in Onfilm (Auckland, New Zealand), no. 5, 1996.
"Great XPectations," in Time (New York), 9 June 1997.
Elias, M., "De l'amour different," in Séquences (Montreal), July-August 1997.
Rudolph, E., "View Askew Lines up Its Sights," in AmericanCinematographer (Hollywood), August 1997.
Current Biography (New York), February 1998.
Talty, Stephen, "The Clerk, the Girl, and the Corduroy Hand Job," in Playboy (Chicago), December 1998.
* * *
It is fitting that Kevin Smith hocked his comic book collection to partially finance Clerks, his breakthrough independent feature. The characters in Clerks and his subsequent films are reflective of the video game/comic book culture in which he came of age. They are slackers, stoners, and convenience store/suburban mall lounge lizards whose obsessions—American pop culture, drugs, and a colorfully graphic, gossipy, who-laid-who view of sex—have not transcended adolescence or young adulthood; his more entrepreneurial characters are artists, rather than yuppies. Smith's films are set in a nondescript suburban-American landscape that is as much a part of his celluloid palate as Monument Valley was for John Ford.
The worst that can be said of Clerks is that it is a movie made by a very young person who is short on real-life experience, and whose world view has been derived from repeated screenings of Star Wars. But that is precisely the point: Clerks features a distinctive cinematic sensibility that can be fully appreciated by those of Smith's age and background.
The main characters in the film are Dante, a likable 22-year-old convenience store clerk, and his obnoxious pal Randal, who works in an adjacent mom-and-pop video store. Dante and Randal are afflicted with the sort of ennui that the media tells us is the scourge of those contemporary twentysomethings who have not yet become millionaires by playing the stock market on-line. Dante resists the pleas of his girlfriend Veronica, who has been pressuring him to leave his dead-end job and return to school. He constantly complains about his job—if he quit, he would not be forfeiting a banker's salary—and he obsesses about an ex-girlfriend who has just become engaged. Randal, meanwhile, spends more time talking trash with Dante than clerking in the video store. He casually and smugly insults customers, and is forever managing to foul up Dante's life.
Clerks was inspired by Smith's experiences working for $5 an hour at the Quick Stop, the New Jersey convenience store that is the film's primary setting. He penned the script in a month, filmed it at the store during his off-hours at a cost of $27,575—and promptly found himself, at the tender age of 24, at the epicenter of the burgeoning mid-1990s independent film movement. There is neither sex nor nudity in the film, just some rough, locker-room language in which characters engage in hilariously profane sex-oriented conversations. Yet because of that language Clerks originally was rated NC-17, a fact that Miramax, the film's distributor, cannily milked for the maximum amount of publicity. The rating was changed to R on appeal.
Mallrats, Smith's follow-up feature, was a critical and commercial failure. Its story involves a parade of characters who hang out at a suburban mall; among them are T.S. Quint and Brodie, slackers who have just been dumped by their girlfriends. But Smith proved that he was no one-shot success story with his next film: Chasing Amy, a romantic comedy in which he ponders what might happen if a heterosexual male were to fall in love with a woman who is completely unavailable, not because she is married or has a steady boyfriend but because she prefers sleeping with women. Chasing Amy is the story of Holden, a successful young comic book artist who works with Banky, his old high school pal, and becomes smitten with Alissa, a perky fellow comic book artist, without knowing that she is a lesbian.
Suffice to say that in the final reel of a standard Hollywood romance, Alissa would permanently renounce her sexual preference and she and Holden would set off on a happy-ever-after dance along the New Jersey Turnpike of life. But Chasing Amy is no generic Hollywood product. So what happens to Alissa and Holden as they work out their feelings is far more complex and credible. As their stories unfold, Chasing Amy becomes a knowing examination of what it means to fall in love, and the sexual and emotional baggage that men and women bring to relationships in our modern era. With regard to Holden's connection to Banky, Chasing Amy contemplates the meaning of friendship and the petty jealousies that may come between friends as well as lovers. Ultimately, the film works best as a fervent plea for open-mindedness, compassion, and sensitivity. As such, it is by far the most fully developed of Smith's first three features.
Dogma, Smith's next film, is a wickedly funny satire/fantasy/road movie about Loki and Bartleby, fallen angels who find a loophole in the Bible that will allow them to re-enter Heaven. As they set off on their quest, an array of characters parade across the screen. They include a woman whose religious faith has been severely tested, a messenger sent from heaven, a black apostle, a demon, and a muse. The film's cheeky irreverence is exemplified by Smith's casting of the anti-establishment comedian George Carlin as a Cardinal, and the pop singer Alanis Morisette as God. But the filmmaker is just being playful; he does not take cheap shots at his subject matter. Despite its absurdist overtones, Dogma is a serious-minded reflection on the meaning of faith and spirituality. To this end, Smith poses a series of questions: Why do we practice religion, and what do we get out of our faith? How do we know that what is written in the Bible is fact? How do we know that the images of Jesus found in religious art are true-to-life? Could there have been another apostle, and might he have been black? Can a practicing Catholic justify working in a womans' health clinic? Could God really be a "she"? As Smith asks these questions, he also comes to conclusions. He is critical of the manner in which religion has been sold to the masses, as if it were a soft drink or potato chip; the corporate marketing of images that the masses come to worship as idols; and all of the wars and violence that, through the ages, have been carried out "in God's name."
Depending upon your point of view, Dogma either is a provocative or profane film. To some, Smith is thoughtfully reflecting on the nature of faith. To others, his satirizing of religion is tantamount to blasphemy. And so, unsurprisingly, Dogma was the subject of much controversy prior to its release as it was denounced by conservative Catholics as being sacrilegious. Miramax, once a beacon for independent filmmaking but now an arm of Disney, bowed out as distributor. Dogma eventually was released by Lions Gate Films.
Smith's films, all of which are powered by non-stop dialogue, are extensions of each other in that their characters are interrelated. Those portrayed or mentioned in one might be friends, acquaintances, old schoolmates, or former lovers of those in another. Two of Smith's creations slink in and out of each, and actually have featured roles in Dogma: Jay and Silent Bob (the latter played by Smith), a two-person slacker/stoner Greek chorus. Jay (Jason Mewes) is the loquacious one, endlessly obsessing about and commenting on sex and drugs, while Silent Bob is usually, but not always, speechless. When he does speak, he offers gems of wisdom. In addition to Jay and Silent Bob, Smith's films usually feature two male characters (Dante and Randal in Clerks; T.S. Quint and Brodie in Mallrats; Holden and Banky in Chasing Amy; and Loki and Bartleby in Dogma) who are long-time friends or partners, and who verbally spar as if they are Ralph and Alice Kramden in The Honeymooners.
Smith, Kevin 1970–
Smith, Kevin 1970–
(Silent Bob, Kevin P. Smith)
Full name, Kevin Patrick Smith; born August 2, 1970, in Red Bank, NJ; son of Donald (a postal worker) and Grace Smith; married Jennifer Schwalbach (a journalist, actress, and director), April 1999; children: Harley Quinn. Education: Studied creative writing at New School for Social Research, 1988–89; attended Vancouver Film School, 1990.
Addresses: Agent—Endeavor, 9601 Wilshire Blvd., 3rd Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Office—View Askew Productions, 116 Broad St., Red Bank, NJ 07701. Publicist—Angellotti Company, 12423 Ventura Court, Studio City, CA 91604.
Career: Writer, director, producer, editor, and actor. View Askew (a production company), founder; Jay & Silent Bob's Secrets Stash, Red Bank, NJ, owner; directed commercials for Diet Coke and Panasonic e-Wear TV; appeared in commercials for MTV and Panasonic DVD Recorder. Previously worked in delis, including Quick Stop, Leonardo, NJ, c. 1992, and community centers.
Awards, Honors: Filmmakers Trophy and Grand Jury Prize nomination, Sundance Film Festival, Young Cinema Award, foreign film, and Mercedes-Benz Award, both Cannes International Film Festival, Audience Award and Critics Award nomination, Deauville Film Festival, 1994, Independent Spirit Award nominations, best first feature (with Scott Mosier) and best first screenplay, 1995, all for Clerks; Boston Society of Film Critics Award, 2nd place, best screenplay, 1997, Independent Spirit Award, best screenplay, Butaca Award nomination, best art house film, 1998, all for Chasing Amy; Sierra Award nomination, best screen-play—original, Las Vegas Film Critics Society, Independent Spirit Award nomination, best screenplay, 2000, Nebula Award nomination, best script, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, 2001, all, for Dogma; Doctor of Humane Letters, Illinois Wesleyan University, 2000.
Himself, Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary (documentary short film), 1992.
Silent Bob, Clerks, Miramax, 1994.
Silent Bob, Mallrats, Gramercy, 1995.
(As Silent Bob) Himself, Drawing Flies, 1996.
Silent Bob, Chasing Amy, Miramax, 1997.
Silent Bob, Dogma, Miramax, 1999.
Himself, View Askew's Look Back at Mallrats (documentary short film), Universal, 1999.
Himself, The Blair Clown Project, 1999.
Director, Big Helium Dog, 1999.
Himself, Film-Fest DVD: Issue 4—Hawaii, 2000.
Himself, Chasing Kevin, 2000.
Silent Bob, Lucy You Love It (documentary), 2000.
Silent Bob, Scream 3, Miramax, 2000.
Martan Ingram, Vulgar, Lions Gate Films, 2000.
Silent Bob, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Dimension Films, 2001.
Himself, Starwoids (documentary), Film Threat DVD and Video, 2001.
Himself, Judge Not: In Defense of Dogma (documentary short film), Lions Gate Films Home Entertainment, 2001.
Himself, Stan Lee's "Mutants, Monsters, and Marvels" (documentary), Creative Light Worldwide, 2002.
Himself, An Evening with Kevin Smith (documentary), Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2002.
Himself, Spider-Man: The Mythology of the 21st Century (documentary short film), 2002.
Married guy, Now You Know, Lumberyard Productions, 2002.
Jack Kirby (forensic assistant), Daredevil (also known as Daredevil 1.5), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2003.
Himself, The Men without Fear: Creating "Daredevil" (documentary), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2003.
Himself, Comic Book: The Movie, Miramax Home Entertainment, 2004.
Himself, Snowball Effect: The Story of Clerks (documentary), Miramax, 2004.
Himself, Oh, What a Lovely Tea Party (documentary), 2004.
Silent Bob, The Passion of the Clerks, Miramax, 2005.
Director, editor, and producer, Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary (documentary short film), 1992.
Producer, editor, and (with Scott Mosier) director, Clerks, Miramax, 1994.
Director and (uncredited) producer, Mallrats, Gramercy, 1995.
(With Mosier) Executive producer, Drawing Flies, View Askew/Good Load Productions, 1996.
Producer, A Better Place, 1997.
Co-executive producer, Good Will Hunting, 1997.
Director, editor, and (uncredited) producer, Chasing Amy, Miramax, 1997.
Executive producer, Preacher, 1999.
Executive producer, Big Helium Dog, 1999.
Director, editor, (uncredited) producer, and (as Kevin P. Smith) puppeteer, Dogma, Miramax, 1999.
Executive consultant and (uncredited) executive producer, Tail Lights Fade, Trimark Pictures, 1999.
Executive producer, Vulgar, 2000.
Director, editor, and executive album producer, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Dimension Films, 2001.
Producer, Judge Not: In Defense of Dogma (documentary short film), Lions Gate Films Home Entertainment, 2001.
Director, executive producer, and editor, Jersey Girl, Miramax, 2004.
Director, Clerks: The Lost Scene (animated short film), Miramax, 2004.
Director, producer, and co-editor, The Passion of the Clerks, Miramax, 2005.
Executive producer, Reel Paradise (documentary), Miramax, 2005.
Executive producer and producer, The Green Hornet, Miramax, 2005.
Television Appearances; Series:
Voice of Silent Bob, Clerks (animated; also known as Clerks: The Cartoon and Clerks: Uncensored), ABC, 2000.
Also appeared as regular correspondent, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC.
Television Appearances; Miniseries:
Himself and Silent Bob, I Love the '90s (documentary), VH1, 2004.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Himself, Independent's Day, Sundance Channel, 1998.
Panelist, 9 Movie Moments That Made the 90's (documentary), MTV, 1999.
Himself, The Concert for New York City, VH1, 2001.
Himself, Reel Comedy: Jay and Silent Bob, 2001.
The Inside Reel: Digital Filmmaking (documentary), PBS, 2001.
Himself, Heroes of Black Comedy (documentary), Comedy Central, 2002.
Himself, The Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards, Sci-Fi Channel, 2002.
Himself, Wizard World Chicago (documentary), 2002.
Himself, Intimate Portrait: Jennifer Lopez (documentary), Lifetime, 2002.
Himself, Roadside Attractions, 2002.
Himself, Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked (documentary), History Channel, 2003.
Presenter, The 3rd Annual DVD Exclusive Awards, F/X, 2003.
When Star Wars Ruled the World (documentary), VH1, 2004.
Also appeared in Jay & Silent Bob's Video Stash, MTV.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
"Rio Ghosto," Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Cartoon Network, 1998.
Himself, "God," Dennis Miller Live, HBO, 2000.
Tony's wife's nephew, "Black, White and Blue," Law & Order, NBC, 2000.
Himself, "George Carlin: More than Words," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2000.
Himself, Exposure, Sci-Fi Channel, 2000.
Himself, "Pete Goes to Work," Project Greenlight, HBO, 2001.
Himself, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 2002, 2003, 2004.
Himself, Dinner for Five, Independent Film Channel, 2003, 2004.
"Hal Jordan/Green Lantern," Duck Dogers, 2003.
Himself, Extra, syndicated, 2003.
Voice of Hal Jordan, "The Green Loontern," Duck Dodgers, Carton Network, 2003.
Himself, "Superheroes," SuperSecret Movie Rules, 2004.
Captain "Eric" Scurvy, Mad TV, Fox, 2004.
Himself, "The Premiere," Yes, Dear, CBS, 2004.
Himself, Much on Demand, 2005.
Himself, "West End Girls," Degrassi: The Next Generation, 2005.
Himself, "Goin' Down the Road: Parts 1 & 2," Degrassi: The Next Generation, 2005.
Also appeared in Electric Playground, syndicated; as reenactment performer, "Bar Blast (2)/DUI Teen Driver," Rescue 911.
Television Work; Series:
Executive producer, Clerks (animated; also known as Clerks: The Cartoon and Clerks: Uncensored), ABC, 2000.
Television Work; Movies:
Director and (uncredited) editor, The Flying Car, 2002.
Television Work; Specials:
Director, "Why I Love New #∗$%!&@ York," The Concert for New York, VH1, 2001.
Music Videos; as Director:
Directed Afroman's "Because I Got High," 2001; Stroke 9's "Kick Some Ass," 2001; Soul Asylum's "Can't Tell Even"; The Goops' "Build Me Up, Buttercup."
Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary (documentary short film), 1992.
Clerks, Miramax, 1994.
Mallrats, Gramercy, 1995.
Chasing Amy, Miramax, 1997.
Fletch 3, Universal, 1998.
(Uncredited) Overnight Delivery, 1998.
Dogma, Miramax, 1999.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Dimension Films, 2001.
Jersey Girl, Miramax, 2004.
Clerks: The Lost Scene (animated short film), Miramax, 2004.
The Passion of the Clerks, Miramax, 2005.
The Green Hornet, Miramax, 2005.
Fletch Won, 2006.
Also wrote the rejected script for Superman Lives.
(As Kevin P. Smith) "Mooby Theme" and "Jay's Rap 2001," Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, 2001.
The Flying Car, 2002.
Roadside Attractions, 2002.
"Why I Love New #∗$%!&@ York," The Concert for New York, VH1, 2001.
Clerks (animated; also known as Clerks: The Cartoon and Clerks: Uncensored), ABC, 2000.
Daredevil (issues 1-6), Marvel Knights, c. 1998–99.
Green Arrow, 2001.
Spider-Man and the Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do, 2002.
Also wrote issues of Bluntman & Chronic, Oni Press; Green Arrow.
(With John Pierson) Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema, Hyperion, 1996.
Wrote Chasing Dogma.
Wrote forward to the "Preacher" collection, Until the End of the World; wrote "Walt Flanagan's Dog," for Oni Double Feature #1.
Characters from Clerks were adapted into comic books, Clerks (The Comic Book) and Jay & Silent Bob.
Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 37, Gale Group, 2000.
Newsmakers 2000, Issue 4, Gale Group, 2000.
Advertising Age, October 19, 1998, p. 24.
Entertainment Weekly, June 23, 1995, p. 26; April 11, 1997, p. 25; November 28, 1997, p. 87; November/December, 1997, p. 65; February 20, 1998, p. 12.
High Times, October, 2001.
Interview, April, 1997, p. 42.
Playboy, December 1, 1998, p. 150.
Two River Times, January 16, 1998.
Variety, February 23, 1998, p. A14.
SMITH, Kevin. American, b. 1970. Genres: Plays/Screenplays, Film. Career: Screenwriter, Director. Publications: SCREENPLAYS: Clerks, 1994; Mallrats, 1995; Overnight Delivery, 1996; Chasing Amy, 1997; Fletch 3, 1998; Dogma, 1998. OTHER: (with J. Pierson) Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema, 1996. Address: c/o Creative Artists Agency, Inc., 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.