Sundance 2011: Kevin Smith to self-distribute Red State

Writer-director heralds new age of Indie 2.0

Sundance 2011: Kevin Smith to self-distribute Red State

Kevin Smith's Sundance screening of his new film Red State had already grabbed attention, thanks to members of the Westboro Baptist Church famous for their 'God Hates Fags' placards) picketing the film for mocking their views.

However, the religious cult's protest outside the venue was little more than window-dressing for the main talking point - Kevin Smith's decision to distribute his own movie.

Red State producer Jonathon Gordon followed Sundance tradition by holding a post-screening auction, but the film industry audience was surprised when Smith bid $20 for his own work and was promptly declared the winner.

He explained the rationale behind the unorthodox move in a speech which lasted almost half an hour.

"What we need to prove is that anyone can release a movie," he said.

"Indie film isn't dead, it just grew up. It is just Indie Film 2.0 now. In Indie Film 2.0, we don't let them sell our movie - we sell our movie ourselves."

Whilst critical of the studio distribution system and its focus on marketing, Smith had nothing but praise for his industry mentor, Harvey Weinstein of Warner Bros.

Weinstein gave Smith his big break 17 years ago when his Miramax studio bought Smith's self-funded slacker comedy Clerks.

Since then it seems that Smith has become disillusioned with losing control over projects once they are passed on to be promoted and screened.

"True independence isn't making a film then selling it to some jackass. True independence is schlepping that sh*t to the people, and that's what I intend to do."

He pointed out that low budget filmmakers are lucky if they recoup their outlay in a studio deal, but have no share in any subsequent profits.

He now plans to rely on word-of-mouth, co-operative relationships with independent theatres and his loyal fanbase to give Red State the showing he feels it deserves.

Given that the writer-director has 1.2 million followers on Twitter, he looks to be in with a fighting chance of recouping the film's $4 million budget.

Smith stated that he plans to direct only one more film, the hockey-themed Hit Somebody, before setting up his own indie film distribution company.

Red State is a horror that critiques the hypocrisies of fundamentalist Christianity and takes the Westboro Baptist Church founder, Fred Phelps, as inspiration for the film's cult leader character (Michael Parks, above).

Smith joined the protest outside the screening, waving a jokey placard reading 'God Hates Fat.'

It seems natural that a publicist as talented as Smith has chosen to skip the studio promotional circus - he's doing a great job all by himself.

Red State is to receive its American release on October 19th, the anniversary of Smith's debut Clerks.

What do you think of Smith's move towards independence? Leave a comment below...

Comments

    • kahepfin

      Jan 24th 2011, 15:45

      I am BEYOND excited for this film. Please bring it to Michigan, Kevin Smith! :)

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    • MadMatt

      Jan 24th 2011, 23:39

      The online film critic community have been reacting with stunning hostility to this, and to Smith himself. Spend a few minutes on HitFix and Badassdigest to see what I mean. Reading Total Film's summary of the 'auction' makes it seem like a harmless joke, but that's not the general perception... Not sure what to think of it all myself. Seems quite brave to put your money where your mouth is, at least. Oh, and while I'm here, thanks for letting me have Comment Of The Week a couple of times now, TF. As sad as it sounds, each time it really made my day! :)

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