I’ve been following with interest the production of Kevin Smith’s latest film ‘Tusk’. As you may be aware, Smith’s first steps into this project began on his weekly podcast ‘SModcast’, which he hosts with producer Scott Mosier. The idea came from an article about a man who posted a hoax ad online seeking a room-mate. The ad told the tale of a man who’d been isolated on an island for many years, whose only friend in that time was a walrus, and went on to say that the room was available rent free, provided the new tenant be prepared to wear a walrus costume on demand to remind the owner of the time he’d spent with the walrus, which he considered his true friend.
Along with the many thousands of SModcast listeners, I was witness to this first conversation Smith and Mosier had about the project. That conversation evolved into a ‘what if?’ discussion about a possible horror film, and that has now progressed into an actual Hollywood feature, ‘Tusk’, which Smith is currently editing. The progression has been amazing, not only because of how fast it’s evolved into a living, breathing thing, but that we, as the audience, have been there for every step of the ride.
Kevin Smith is a truly inspirational character. Whether you like his work or not, you have to acknowledge his place as a pop-culture icon. Smith stands as a beacon for all the would-be film-makers out there – a guy who came from nothing and made his own way to major success. Many film-makers working today quote Kevin Smith as an inspiration, and his speaking tours always sell out around the world. Smith has succeeded as a film-maker, but more importantly, Smith has succeeded as an inspirational figure.
I’m not a fan of everything Smith does – even Smith discusses his dislike of some of the films he’s made – but I am a fan of Kevin Smith as a person. He genuinely cares about his fans and about providing them with authentic content and experiences. He looks to provide opportunities and support for others (including his high-school friends who still feature in his projects). He regularly calls for his fans to start doing podcasts, start making films, spruiking the freedoms and opportunities we all have available to us in the digital age. With the progression of ‘Tusk’, he has once again shown how an idea can be realised – no, we don’t all have Smith’s connections, but the process is very similar, albeit with more hoops to jump through.
Smith has been saying for sometime that he is retiring from film-making. That he wants to make way for the next generation, that he doesn’t have anything more to say in film. He said this about ‘Clerks 3’, which is still going through the pre-production process. He said it about another film before that (‘Hit Somebody’), then ‘Tusk’ came out of nowhere. I sincerely hope Smith doesn’t retire from film-making. I hope Smith continues to go with the flow, see what opportunities come up, flow with them right through. Maybe he makes ten more films, maybe none, but just having Smith out there working, showing the next generation how things can be done, how you need to follow your heart and ideas and produce content, whether it goes somewhere or not, is something, I think, many people need. Just having Smith as an example of what can be done if you give it a shot provides so much benefit to not only his fans, but anyone working in a creative field. Just try it. Just send it out. Just have a shot, get your work out there. If you feel passionately about something, if you really want to do it, then you should do it.
One of the things Smith always says is you should be a ‘Why not?’ person, not a ‘Why?’ person. You need to surround yourself with ‘Why not?’ people. You say you want to make a film – why not? You want to write a book – why not? Why not you? Why can’t you be successful? Why can’t this thing you’re working on now be the thing. This is excellent advice and one I think we should all try to apply to our day to day lives, and not just in creative work. Anything is possible, but it has to start somewhere. Why not with you, right now?
Kevin Smith shows us that following your heart and sticking with what you love can lead to success. Working with the people you want, being true to yourself, expressing your own voice – sure, not everyone can make a career out of this, but Kevin Smith is a living example what is possible. I sincerely hope he continues to create and shine light on the path for generations to come.