Director's Reel: Kevin Smith on the Colorful History of the Black-and-White Sensation 'Clerks'

Kevin Polowy
Senior Editor


While promoting his new Yoga Hosers, Kevin Smith came into our studios to shoot an episode of Director’s Reel — Yahoo Movies’ series where filmmakers talk us through their career highlights. But if you’re a fan of Smith you already know the man can outtalk the talkiest talkers in Talk Land, and we only slightly regret to tell you that our attempt at moving through the director’s filmography failed miserably.

We opened with a question about Smith’s seminal 1994 directorial debut Clerks (which turns 22 this week) and he proceeded to speak about the film, breathlessly at points, and without pause, for the next 75 minutes. We’re not complaining, because what Smith revealed — in chronological, oral history-like fashion, about the film’s inspirations, casting, and surreal storybook ending — was fascinating.

You can watch a much more internet-friendlier, eight-and-a-half minute cut of Smith’s Clerks remembrances above. Here are a few highlights:

—It was Richard Linklater’s ultra-low-budget 1991 debut, Slacker, which Smith saw on his 21st birthday, that changed the way he looked at movies, and ultimately motivated him to make his own. “That’s the movie that changed my life. I had always been a movie buff up until that point. Seeing Slacker opened up the possibility, like, ‘Maybe you could do this.‘”

Related: Director’s Reel: Richard Linklater Looks Back at ‘Slacker,’ ‘Dazed and Confused’ and More

—The first public screening of Clerks was a disaster. Smith and his cast brought the movie to a screening at the Independent Film Feature Market (IFFM) at Manhattan’s famed Angelika Film Center. “It was all 10 of us, cast and crew, and we walked into the theater and we were literally the only people there. Later on two other people came in… one girl sat over there and then one bald guy sat up front.” That bald guy, however, Bob Hawk, would alter the course of the film’s history.

—Let Kevin Smith inspire you. “If you tell the world you want to do anything, you will slapped across the face with a big floppy [expletive] of ‘Why?'” the filmmaker said. “You can’t get anything done surrounded by the ‘Why?’ people. You’ve gotta surround yourself with the ‘Why not?’ people.”

Watch Kevin Smith and daughter Harley Quinn Smith share an emotional moment discussing ‘Yoga Hosers’: