The Dead Robots' Society

Writers on Writing


There are several writers whom I idolize. There’s of course Stephen King, my love for which I’ve spoken of many times in the past, and there’s Joss Whedon, whose work on Buffy, Angel, and Firefly has thrilled and chilled me many times over. But, to that list has to be added Kevin Smith. For those who don’t know him, Kevin Smith is the writer/director of such films as CLERKS, CHASING AMY, and ZACK & MIRI MAKE A PORNO. If you’ve never heard of those films, I don’t blame you, but I do judge you. His films have always slanted to the comedic, and they’re usually dialogue heavy, with said dialogue coming from hip, young characters. CLERKS, his first film, came out nearly twenty years ago, and he’s been entertaining me since then. He’s also known for his comic book writing, but for me that’s really just the icing on top of his already amazing film career cake. The guy is just a damn good writer. In fact, I idolize him so much I own an action figure of him, and I have it sitting on my desk like a patron saint of writing so that he can watch over me and give me inspiration when I need it. Photographic evidence has been provided to the right. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Smith’s burgeoning podcast network. He has several great shows, and soon it’ll be growing into an actual internet radio station. My week would be pretty dull without listening to him and his friends talk about their lives and loves and work. If you’ve never listened to SModcast, then you’re seriously missing out.

But, all of that isn’t why I’m writing this blog entry. No, I’m writing this because I recently got to meet Kevin Smith, and it was a fantastic experience. You see, his next film is RED STATE, and it is very much unlike his usual fare in that it’s a horror movie. And, not only is it his first horror movie, but it’s also a movie that he didn’t want to sell the distribution rights to, so he’s been going around the country to show it to audiences himself. Luckily for me, one of his stops was Austin, which is about three to four hours south of me. Now, I have to say, when my brother first brought up the idea of going to Austin to see the movie and Kevin Smith, I was hesitant. I am a creature of habit to the extreme, and the idea of going so far to do something so other than what I’d normally be doing made me itchy. Even though I love Smith’s work, I didn’t want to go. Were it not for my wife saying she wanted to go too, I probably would have stayed home. But, she did want to go, as did my brother’s wife, so we decided to make a little trip out of it. We’d get tickets, drive together to Austin, see the movie, and then drive home the next day. It would a simple, fun time. Knowing we’d all be together made it easier for me to want to go. So, we made plans.

Cut to a couple of weeks ago, and my brother telling me that not only were we going to see the movie, but he’d also gotten us backstage passes to MEET Kevin Smith. How had my brother performed this incredible feat? After cyber-stalking Kevin for what seemed like months, finally he broke through, and Kevin said my brother could have the passes if Scott could give him something in return. Well, as luck would have it, my brother had a short song he’d created awhile ago, and he sent it to Kevin to see if he liked it. Indeed he did, and four backstage passes were issued for us. Joy! Fast-forward to a few days ago, and we all drove to Austin. My wife loves the city, as do I, so it was a pleasure to be there anyway, but knowing we’d get to meet Kevin Smith AND see the movie made it that much sweeter.

Now, if you don’t know who Kevin Smith is, I can only assume you also don’t know what RED STATE is about. RED STATE is a rather simple film, all things considered, but it is a brutal film as well. RED STATE tells the tale of three boys who think they’re going to drive to an internet hookup and get laid, only to have their little sexual sojourn turn into a horrifying ordeal at the hands of a congregation of religious zealots made in the mold of the famous Phelps family, but taken to an extreme. Soon the ATF is called in, and all hell breaks loose at the Five Points Trinity Church compound, which is part Westboro Baptist Church and part Branch Davidian Complex. It’s a short movie, but every second of it counts, and there is no fat to be had. We all really enjoyed it. I wish I had a copy of it so that I could watch it again. If you get a chance, go see it for yourselves. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

After the film, as he’s done at every stop on the tour, Kevin likes to come out and do a little Q&A with the audience. I say little, but really it ended up being about an hour and a half of him talking about the film and his plans for the future (which includes making one more movie — HIT SOMEBODY — before he retires from the film industry and concentrates on his writing, his internet radio show, and developing an independent film distribution company). I loved hearing him talk, but after an hour or so my legs were killing me, I was sweating like crazy, and I needed to go to the bathroom. When it was over, it was bittersweet. Fortunately we knew we were going to meet Kevin soon, so it really wasn’t over at all.

I’ve been lucky, in that because of my podcast and writing I’ve gotten to meet a lot of celebrities I look up to, either in person or over the phone while interviewing them. I’ve met Kevin Anderson (writer of more books than I’ll ever be able to produce from my meager fingers), Nathan Fillion (star of such TV shows as Firefly and Castle), Ray Park (his greatest claim to fame was playing the roll of Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, and you need to hear my wife tell the story of that meeting), and Tracy Hickman (one of the authors of the Dragon Lance series, which when I was kid I thought was better than The Lord Of The Rings) amongst others. Meeting Kevin Smith might have been better than them all, because not only did I get to shake his hand and tell him how much I liked his work, but for those few moments he was really engaged with me on a personal level. Thanks to my brother I was able to talk to and touch a person I idolize. Thank you, Scott. And thank you, too, to Kevin Smith. I really hope you kept my business card, and that you call me. I know you’d have fun on my podcast, and getting to talk more with you would be a dream come true.

Anyway, that’s it from me. The trip to Austin was great, the movie was amazing, and I’m still kind of floating on the high of it. Now if only I could figure out a way to meet Stephen King and Joss Whedon…




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