Festivals News

Kevin Smith plans to self-distribute Red State

Kevin Smith managed to get a lot of attention for the world premiere of his latest film at the Sundance Film Festival.

After the critical mauling of his last film, the studio comedy Cop Out, and his various Twitter rants about critics, he returned to to his indie roots with the $4m horror film Red State.

The build up to the premiere was cleverly stoked by Smith himself who has an army of fans online who follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

The festival guide described the plot of Red State:

“Three horny high school boys come across an online personal ad from an older woman looking for a gang bang, and boys being boys, they hit the road to satisfy their libidinal urges. What begins as a fantasy, however, takes a dark turn as they come face-to-face with a terrifying fundamentalist “holy” force with a fatal agenda”

Shot last summer, Smith announced that it would screen out of competition at Sundance and over the last couple of months he has released teaser posters and built up buzz for the film via his Twitter account (@thatkevinsmith).

This was the offical trailer, released just before Christmas along with two “teaser” websites, and

There was speculation that Smith would stage an auction for the distribution rights after the first screening at Sundance, which some viewed as a cheap publicity ploy.

The build up was marked by protests against the film as one of the villians is loosely based on a stern, religious figure along the lines of Fred Phelps.

Then Smith and other festival-goers protested against the protests, although was this hype staged?

Smith denied rumours that the film had already been pre-sold to a distributor by tweeting the following:

Via @CAmcKy “the media says ur full of s— and have sold RedState already and ur just being a showman” Who you gonna believe: me or them? The “full of s—” part is opinion, so it doesn’t matter. But the “already sold” part? 100% untrue. For those of you not just tuning in to the story, you guys can vouch that I’ve done everything I said I was gonna do thus far, correct? So why lie now? Folks can tell themselves whatever they want if it makes ’em feel better about watching the Jets. Honestly: I understand team passion. If you’re on the fence about seeing RedState or watching the game, I understand completely. No worries, no offense. But I promise you: though we’ve heard a few sight-unseen preemptive bids, THIS MOVIE HAS NOT ALREADY BEEN SOLD. After the screening, THEN we’ll pick the distributor.

Buzz was further fuelled by a mostly sceptical batch of film writers who seemed both repelled and excited by the P.T. Barnum-style event the screening had become.

Dave Chen of /Film posted this AudioBoo as he headed into the screening:

The situation was a win-win for Smith: whatever people thought of the film, he had got awareness, publicity and created one of the hot tickets at Sundance.

After the screening was over the director revealed to a packed Eccles Theatre that the expected ‘auction’ was little more than a gag, as he brought up the film’s producer, Jonathan Gordon, to the stage to open the bidding and after Smith offered $20, it was proclaimed ‘sold’.

The stunt was there to highlight his actual plans to bypass the traditional model of distribution, with its traditional costs of marketing and prints.

Smith will essentially distribute the film himself, taking it on a nationwide tour that begins on March 5th, before self releasing it in cinemas on October 19th

He clearly feels that he can at least break even with his loyal nationwide fan base:

“It’s indie film 2.0 and in indie film 2.0 we sell our films ourselves”

Reactions so far from critics have been mixed, with some praising Smith for doing something different whilst others were not so hot on the film.

Here are some reactions:

“I would say this is the best film he’s made since Chasing Amy. In this film, Smith has become something more than a comedy director — he shows real skill presenting action sequences which are both thrilling and well shot” – Peter Sciretta of /Film

“Messy, overwritten, visually stylish, but kind of a bore. More like Kevin Smith than it looks because nobody ever stops talking” – Katey Rich of Cinema Blend

“Red State: Bloody, violent, random, preachy. I dug it, but didn’t love it”. – Erik Davis of Cinematical

“Nasty fundamentalist caricatures vs nasty law enforcement ones. Literally and figuratively preachy”. Alison Willmore of IFC

“‘Red State’ was good, and also not what I expected at all”. – Matt Dentler of IndieWire

“It’s nice to contemplate how Kevin Smith wants to make films that aren’t comedies. Too bad he tried to make all of them at once”. – James Rocchi

My guess is that Smith is going to find it tough making a financial success out of this but many people in the indie film world, regardless of their opinion on the film, will be curious to see how it works out.

Although this isn’t the first time self-distribution has been tried, its rare to see a filmmaker with profile of Smith try something like this.

Time will tell if it works out or not.

> Sundance 2011
> Red State at IMDb


Kevin Smith on the Internet

Writer-director Kevin Smith was recently interviewed by Lee Stranahan and he had two very interesting sections where they discussed the Internet.

In this part he discusses the dark side of the online world, including negative feedback and the painful experience of when his last film opened:


Here he talks about the positive aspects of the Internet and his first experiences of it back in the mid-90s:

[Link via /Film]

> Kevin Smith at the IMDb
> Hilarious video of Smith talking about his experiences working on Superman

Cinema Interesting

Kevin Smith on the /Filmcast

If you didn’t catch it the other night the /Filmcast podcast with special guest Kevin Smith was great.

It was a discussion of The Dark Knight but also got into other areas such as the new Watchmen trailer, the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher films (my favourite anecdote was what Kevin was doing the day in 1989 when Batman came out) and the possible villains in the next Nolan film.

What’s nice is that the conversation is relaxed but intelligent (I liked the use of the term Nolan-verse) and full of passion about the Batman character and films.

One point that stuck out for me was when they mused on the fact that Warner Bros actually greenlit and stumped up the cash for a blockbuster as ambitious and dark as this – so props to the suits at Burbank for allowing Nolan to bring his vision to the screen.

A few years ago a friend of mine showed me the first DVD of An Evening with Kevin Smith and I was surprised how funny and engaging he could be on stage (especially as he plays Silent Bob in his movies). But some of the stories are hilarious.

One anecdote about working with producer Jon Peters on a Superman film in the mid-90s was a particular highlight:

You can listen to the /Film podcast with Kevin Smith here, download it as an MP3 or subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

> Kevin Smith’s blog and View Askew Productions
> Get an An Evening With Kevin Smith on DVD via Amazon
> /Film
> Check out more links, videos and background to this movie in our Countdown to The Dark Knight
> A post back in December about the Prologue at the London IMAX
> Official site
> The Dark Knight at the IMDb