Avid is promoting Kevin Smith on his tour of "Red State" and asked for students to do a private Q&A with him after the LA screening at the Wiltern. Apparently they ran out of time, so the selected students were asked to be on his radio show. I was actually not one of those selected students, but a few students dropped out and since I knew the Avid Artist Relations Manager, Meagan, she asked me to join in. I, of course, screamed "YES!!"
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I knew it would be best to discuss editing and mention "Avid," as often as possible. So I thought about some editing questions as well as directing questions.
When I showed up at his studio, there were 5 other students hanging out and waiting to go on air with me. We sat in the kitchen looking at all of the "Jay & Silent Bob" gear and playing with their hundreds of dogs (no exaggeration... hundreds of dogs).
Kevin Smith's producer/assistant asked for 2 people to go first. I stalled, totally nervous, and two other guys jumped up. A USC student and a student from Los Angeles Film School went up first. They asked a few questions as me and 2 other students waited just off the side, straining to hear - afraid to really look in the studio. It actually turned out better to go second - we got longer air time.
Then it was our turn.
Jen Schwalbach, Kevin's wife, let me have her seat, which was right across from Kevin - and quite comfortable, if I might add!
Kevin's reaction to me walking up was fun -- a woman in film! Apparently there aren't many women on their show, besides Jen & Jordan - Kevin & Jason's wives. They said it was refreshing to see a girl for a change, especially one who is working hard to be in this industry. That meant a lot. I was talking to Jen and Jordan in the kitchen after the interview, and they just were so happy to see a woman for once. It was really nice. Meagan came in, who holds a strong position in the post production world, and it was nice having us all there together. I forget sometimes how this industry is such a boys' club, and it was nice to chat with women for a change. We were all "women rule" for a few hours there!
Yes, I downloaded the Podcast, edited just the students' section (on Avid...might I add), and posted it on my Youtube page. I hope that's okay, Mr. Smith!
Go to 14:53 for the 2nd round of student questions that includes my portion of the interview...and Kevin Smith singing "Girls on Film." Awesome.
"If everyone loves it, it's not art"
This is refreshing because as film students, we struggle with what works for an audience and what doesn't. It's easy to follow the norm and do the average romantic comedy, or we can go a little extreme and play with the story and the characters. If some of your audience likes it, then great! But don't be discouraged if not EVERYONE loves your film.
Also, his advice to new filmmakers was great. Every day we're punched in the face with "you're doing it wrong," or "you need to be like Spielberg or Scorsese to succeed." No I don't. I need to be just like me and carve my own path. Damnit.
I asked Kevin, "What happens if you just don't know? What happens if you're not sure where to take a certain piece of a scene?" This happens to directors every now and then, and he said "You turn to someone you trust." I know on "Volcano Girl," I had a tough emotional moment to achieve, and I just wasn't sure if I got it. I turned to someone on the crew that I trusted to hear their opinion. And, as far as the story is concerned, I think it worked out!
After the Interview
I was too nervous to eat before going on the radio, so once the interview was over I quickly heard my stomach growling. Luckily, they had tons of bagels for us! The only drinks though were beer and wine... so I had water. I had more things to do that day!
We waited for "Jay & Silent Bob Get a Job" to end so we could take photos with Kevin. We listened to the program from feet away on huge comfy couches. We played with the hundreds of dogs again. Then they would bark, and we'd feel bad.
Once Kevin was done we went to their gorgeous back deck of their studio and took photos. We joked about "hover hands" - a condition where a person doesn't actually touch the person they're taking a photo with - they simply put their hands near them. Here's an example:
Kevin said he did this, which made me feel awkward since I actually placed my hand on his back... Then he said, oh no, it's not normal, and he doesn't do it anymore. Okay cool. No hover hands faux pas today!
Talking to Kevin Smith was a breath of fresh air. He was real. He answered our questions with truth and frankness. It wasn't something rehearsed. His manager wasn't leaning in his ear saying "you probably shouldn't say that." It was nice. We could ask him anything and get a straight answer for once. That's all we want in film school. I know I constantly have questions about the situations I'm in as a filmmaker. Especially, "is this normal??" And Kevin Smith pretty much said, "yes!"
Students on Smodcast
I heard through the grapevine that he may bring students on again to talk editing and filmmaking. I'm ready to start making a feature, and based on his experience making "Clerks," I know he is the perfect person to answer all of my questions.
So, in short, bring me back, Mr. Smith!!
What would you ask Kevin Smith if you had the opportunity to interview him? Answer in the comments section below!