*Sorry for the lateness of this post – I started last Friday, and then left town (and internet access!) for the weekend and was just able to finish it now…

In my never-ending pursuit to find ways to bridge my telecomm and film knowledge into this class, I’d like to *attempt* to tackle a post that allows me to critically analyse something from the creator perspective. Hopefully, this actually serves as a useful preparation for my paper/chance to apply theories and ideas, and isn’t just simply embarrassing. 🙂

The movie Clerks was a huge hit in the early 90s. A low budget film made in 1994 by New Jersey Native Kevin Smith, the film seemed very New Wave in that the financial and resource limitations of the project forced a great deal of authenticity. For those not familiar with the film, it is very much a “slice of life”/”day in the life” film about New Jersey young 20-somethings and best friend, Dante and Randal. While all of their friends and classmates have gone to college, gotten jobs, or been married, the two work at the RST Video and Quick Stop convenience store. This movie, and this story, very much served as representative of where Smith felt he was in his life at the time – feeling a bit aimless, wandering, and a bit left behind.

Smith filmed the movie at the convenience store where he worked, convincing his boss to allow him to shoot there over two weeks during the evening while the store was closed. This presented an obstacle that was overcome through cunning use of plot device: to avoid it obviously being night outside of the huge picture window, he worked it into the plot that someone jammed gum into the locks on the window cover, which made it impossible for him to open them when he opened the store. His response to this discovery is “Bunch of savages in this town” – a refrain that ends up being repeated throughout the story, and which strikes a rather resonant chord with the themes of disconnection and isolation that the main characters encounter in their listless existence.

This film catapulted Smith to success as a film maker. Fast forward more than ten years, and Smith was a respected screenwriter, director, and actor in his own right. He was working on a script for either The Green Lantern or The Green Hornet (sorry, I don’t remember which – but they both came out within a year from each other, so easy mistake, right?) He was feeling significantly frustrated at the pressure from working on a big-budget, commercial project rather than one of his own films. Suddenly, Smith found himself no longer that lost 20-something of his Clerks days, but rather, an inexplicably lost 30-something, unable to balance the success he had always wanted with the sense that he had somehow lost part of himself in the attainment of that success. Following the advice of family and friends,  Smith left the project and turned to something more organic, something that would allow him to use his craft to once more deal with his thoughts and feelings in a productive, expressive way: he began work on Clerks II.

Many people were skeptical as to whether or not Clerks could have a successful sequel. Actor Jeff Anderson (Randal Graves) actually initially refused to reprise his role – until he saw the script. Once we understood the story, and Smith’s intention with a revival of the project, he happily joined the cast. The movie was made for a modest budget ($5M) and was a huge critical success. When it premiered at Cannes in 2006, the film received a solid, eight-minute long standing ovation. (Unfortunately, YouTube has let me down and could not provide footage from Cannes. However, there is a short featurette on the now famous “eight minute standing O” on the DVD bonus features.)

A lot of Clerks fans either didn’t like the sequel, or dismissed seeing it altogether, disbelieving that it could live up to the original. However, as a huge Kevin Smith fan (Jersey represent!) I followed his blog and related news, and knew what was going on with the production of this movie. Perhaps it was this knowledge of the authenticity of how and why this film was made, and that organic feeling that connected this film to its predecessor, but I thought the second movie was fantastic – in fact, in many ways I actually like it better than the original. Based on numerous conversations that I’ve had about this film, I’ve come to the conclusion that my knowledge of the creator perspective has for years colored my notions on this film, and is what has allowed me to enjoy this particular artifact to the extent that I do; an appreciation for the aritifact because of an understanding of the creator.

Since I couldn’t provide you all with the clip from Cannes that I would have liked to, I’ll leave you with my favorite clip from the film. As a fan (but realist) of both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, this scene completely made my day when I saw this in theatres:

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