RED STATE SCREENING AT
THE TORONTO UNDERGROUND CINEMA INSPIRES!
An evening with Kevin Smith in Toronto complete with a screening of his new film Red State couldn’t have come at a better time. I had just decided to put my blog on hold for a month in order to concentrate fully on writing my new screenplay and editing my new short film. What better way to kick start the next few weeks then an evening with Kevin Smith at The Underground Cinema in Toronto.
I had a blast with Red State. The experience was made even better by the enthusiastic audience I was a part of. Indeed, something truly incredible happens when you match a movie with the perfect audience. Red State moves a mile a minute and never lets up.
The film begins with a simple setup, a group of kids are looking for sex but their search unfortunately lands them in the middle of a fundamentalist church full of people with bad intentions. It really doesn’t take long before those bad intentions come to fruition in a truly horrific way. That’s when the film really surprised me. Red State immediately makes a quick but smooth transition into an all out war between government agents and this machine gun loving family. What followed was one hell of an entertaining shoot out where absolutely no one is safe. I’m going to leave it at that because part of the fun of Red State is reacting to the twists and turns that basically smack you in the face every 5 or six minutes. I was smiling the entire time and so was everyone else.
John Goodman dominates Red State. The second he appeared on screen the crowed went nuts and he didn’t disappoint. He is absolutely fantastic in the movie and he’s backed up by an equally fantastic supporting cast that includes a very creepy Melissa Leo.
People who have followed Kevin Smith’s career know that he’s never considered himself a visual director but he has definitely elevated his game with Red State. The film’s visual style is every bit as gritty and interesting as it’s chilling premise. While I still think Chasing Amy is Smith’s best work, Red State is definitely a strong contender. It was fun to be able to see the film in that environment and the experience was made even better when he took the stage afterwards to answer questions about the film.
As a die hard fan of the ‘Evening With’ DVDs, I couldn’t wait to hear him speak especially following a screening of his brand new film. The story that fascinated me the most was his explanation of the film’s connection to the Phelps family and the Westboro Baptist Church. They are a group based in Kansas led by Fred Phelps who inspired the villain in the film played by Michael Parks. To see a movie and then hear the filmmaker discuss the inspiration behind was amazing. Kevin spoke with such passion about what he wanted the film to be and the emotions he wanted the audience to feel. Even his decision not to include a score came with a detailed explanation that made me think about my own filmmaking choices in new ways. That doesn’t mean my next movie won’t have a score but hearing someone talk about ‘why’ in such detail was inspiring.
At one point, he fully admitted to breaking the rules of traditional filmmaking in order to achieve the style he wanted.
“I’m 41, I’m Kevin Smith, I’ll do whatever the F#%@ I want.”
Some people may disagree with his editorial choices but that’s the point. He encouraged the filmmakers in the audience to take risks and make the films they wanted to see. That’s the very essence of creativity after all isn’t it? It was a point that hit home especially with my new screenplay underway. It’s strange how the event in Toronto came along right when I needed a boost going into the next few months of my creative life. I have a lot of work to do and it can be daunting at times but hearing someone as passionate as Kevin Smith simply reaffirmed that dedicating yourself to projects you care about will always lead to satisfying results. If anything it’s that wonderful sense of accomplishment I feel when I finish a project that fuels my imagination moving forward. My evening with Kevin Smith served as a reminder of that. I’m ready to get to work.
In the end, he spoke for about 2 hours or so highlighted by countless hilarious tales about his filmmaking adventures and how he envisions the future of independent film. I sincerely hope the Red State DVD features a ton of this material or better still, a separate release that includes the entire Red State Tour Q&As.
Until that day, I’ve got a lot to do and it’s time to get started.