Kevin Smith: I Beat Harvey Weinstein When It Came to Cutting Up My Movies in the Editing Room09/23/2022
As Kevin Smith still fights to get his 1999 film “Dogma” out of the grips of convicted rapist and former mega-producer Harvey Weinstein, the “Clerks” director reflected on Weinstein’s snipper-happy approach to editing films.
“I hate bringing up the name, but back in the day before he was known for being a fucking convicted rapist, Harvey Weinstein was known for being Harvey Scissorhands, cutting movies up and shit,” Smith told Vulture. “He never did that with me because I’d beat him to it. I was like, I don’t want people sitting there any longer than they need to.”
Smith shared that he has always been “more sensitive to feedback than other filmmakers” and only stopped reading reviews after decades in Hollywood.
“It took 20 years or more of my career to be like, ‘Why are you bothering? You did this for you. This is an act of masturbation,’” Smith said. “‘When you jerk off, you don’t go to others for approval afterwards. Why the fuck are you looking for approval?’”
Yet as Smith clarified, critics “particularly carried” his hit feature debut “Clerks” into the mainstream after its explosive Sundance premiere.
“We made ‘Clerks II’ for like nothing — I gave up my salary to make it, which wasn’t that huge,” Smith said. “With ‘Zack and Miri,’ I thought, ‘Oh, everyone’s going to get paid, and we’re going to have a movie star.’ Also, I was already committed by the time we were editing ‘Clerks II.’”
Smith credited fellow Sundance breakout, “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” helmer Steven Soderbergh, for inspiring his later career moves. “‘Cop Out’ came from having a nervous breakdown because of ‘Zack and Miri,’ and I could’ve been talked into anything. Somebody was like, ‘What about doing a script you didn’t write?’ And I was like, ‘Soderbergh does it,’ despite never in my life me being like, ‘Well, me and Soderbergh are alike,’” Smith shared. “But in that one moment, I was like, ‘Well, he’s a director and he also directs other people’s stuff, and then he directs his stuff, so maybe I should investigate this.’ And I thought, ‘I’m going to hang out with Bruce Willis every day.’ And I wasn’t wrong!”
Smith later mirrored Soderbergh in another way, following the success of “Red State,” his filmmaking response to critics. “‘Jesus, they’re always on my dick about making Kevin Smith movies,’” Smith recalled thinking at the time. “‘Let me try to make a movie that I’m supposed to make. Let me see if I can make a fucking movie that somebody else would make. Let me try to make a Quentin Tarantino movie by way of the Coen brothers.’”
He added, “If I took my name off that, nobody would fucking know it was me. And when I was done, ‘I was like, So, this is ‘good’ filmmaking.’ I didn’t miss anything. That’s when I was like, I’m retiring. There was a three-year period where I was like, ‘I’m done with this.’ That was also Soderbergh inspired, because he retired and I was like, ‘We can do that! We could just stop!’ Okay, I guess I’m stopped.”
After helming long-awaited “Clerk III” earlier this year, Smith set his sights on directing a “Dogma” follow-up, if he can buy back to the rights to his own film and script. “It’s my movie and [Weinstein’s] got it,” Smith recently told The Wrap. “He’s holding it hostage. My movie about angels is owned by the devil himself. And if there’s only one way out of this, maybe we could buy it away. Sell me my self-expression back.”
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