A filmmaker is nothing without his or her voice, and Kevin Smith, through the ebb and flow of his career, has the unfaltering voice of an authentic storyteller. Aside from having “the gift of the gab,” Smith offers his own sage advice on authenticity.
“Your voice is your currency,” he says. “It’s the only thing you got different in this life from everybody else. It says who you are and it spends incredibly easy.”
As a niche artist who treads firmly in off-the-cuff humor and raunchy quips, Smith has anchored his work toward his devoted fan base. Whether it’s an episode of his podcast Smodcast or his recent dive into comical absurdity with his new film “Yoga Hosers,” Smith knows how to cater to his audience.
The latter is the second feature of his “True North” trilogy. “Yoga Hosers,” out Sept. 2, features a strong voice (albeit Canadian) for the millennial generation, as it fixes itself on the boredom and social standings of two cashiers, Colleen Collette (Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp) and Colleen McKenzie (Smith’s daughter, Harley Quinn Smith), and the chaos that ensues (featuring mini sausage Nazis and tons of blood) as they desperately try to make it to the social event of their lives.
amNewYork spoke with Smith about the film.
You’re such an exceptional storyteller. You know how to pull the audience in and “Yoga Hosers” succeeds in doing just that.
Stop that! Don’t say exceptional. That’s what I like doing. That’s the only thing I’m gifted at. The easiest kind of storytelling, for me, is the kind done without cameras. Film is the only medium where if you want to self-express, they’ll say, “Give me $20 million and Ben Affleck.” Doing something like this is fun because it blends the podcasts and what I used to do for a living, making films. For me it’s an evolution.
How did you develop your tastes?
I don’t know if you can develop them or if that’s what you can do. I can’t do anything else. You’re supposed to make movies for others, but I always figured it was best to make them for me. I kind of followed the same philosophy in everything. I’m in it to see it come to life. At the end of the day, if you’re working for results, you can’t guarantee that sort of thing. Instead, you make it for you and pray that there’s enough people that want to see it, and that it will work. If you reverse that formula, and you’re trying to do it for everybody, that way lies heartbreak and ruin.
When you wanted to move away from making movies, did you have this trilogy of movies in your head?
No, I stopped making flicks I didn’t want to do. “Tusk” came from an episode of SModcast and we were sitting around making up stories, but this one I said, “I would totally watch this as a movie,” and I was filled with the spirit. Before I knew it, in six months we were on the set and we were making the movie of it. Once that happened, I said, “That was fast!” So “Yoga Hosers” came off the tail end of “Tusk,” and Johnny [Depp] loved playing that character [Guy Lapointe]. Then, it was about three or four weeks later, thinking about the girls in the store, and [I realized] I could do a whole movie about those girls. I like doing that now because it doesn’t give you a chance to gut-check yourself.
You started off as being this voice for Generation X and now you’re transitioning into the millennial generation. Was that a learning curve for you?
No, and thank God that they gave a [expletive]. Maybe it’s because I still dress like a child and because I make juvenile films, but I was able to key into an audience that really shouldn’t give a [expletive] about me. It was nothing I could’ve intended. They’ve grown up watching my stuff, but at the same time, when you’re talking to these new kids, they’ll give me an essay on what I’ve done. It feels good as an artist, because I wasn’t thinking if “Clerks” would age well. I was thinking in the moment. I think the millennials are like, “Oh, he’s like us inasmuch as he just wants to create. He’s got haters but he deals with him, and he does his own thing.”
“Yoga Hosers” is obviously a letter from a filmmaker to the critics. Do you have a different perspective on that relationship now?
Back when I was doing “Cop Out,” I got into a big fight with critics. My relationship with critics was kind of unhealthy at the time. At a certain point I was making films just for critics. I view them as part of the audience now. When I made “Tusk” with Harley Quinn-Smith, I said, “Oh my Gosh, this is joy!“ Her day on “Tusk” saved me from turning into a much more bitter artist. At the end of the day, you hope you mature within the business.
Will you be able to lock Ben Affleck in for “Mallrats” the TV series?
I haven’t gone after him yet. When it’s real, I’m going to be like, “Dude, there’s a small part that this character can do, that can take two minutes and be shot anywhere in the world.” If he says yes, hopefully it’ll be like old times and be great. But if he says no, then we can go and make 1,000 Ben Affleck jokes in the series.