My compassionate ex-boss Kevin Smith tweeted this morning that he’ll be retiring from theatrical filmmaking after he directs Hit Somebody, a hockey flick reportedly spanning 30 years, and Clerks III. Smith is one of those guys who clearly has (and is constantly reformulating) the whole cultural equation in his head — just listen to him riff during one of his talking-tour appearances — but has never quite made a film that delivers on his full potential.
Kevin has always waved me off when I’ve told him what I think he should do, but this is what I wrote this morning after I read the news.
“Who retires at 42, Kevin? You started out as a filmmaker 18 years ago with Clerks, and just because distribution systems are oppressive and weighted against your kind of material…I know it’s unpleasant and a grind, but you can’t not work in films, man. Not as a hard and fast prohibition, I mean. That’s like an ambitious writer saying he’s decided not to write any more books. Even if you’re totally convinced that you don’t want to work in films, never say never. To anything. You should at least try some theatre.
“I don’t care (and you shouldn’t either) how unhappy or unfulfilled filmmaking has made you. Like it or not, you’e here on the planet to do what you can do to brighten or make rich or at least decorate the world as best you can, and I don’t see how that effort doesn’t include at least the occasional film when the material and the time seem right. You don’t have a choice. You have to carry the weight. You’re 42, man, which is when the juices start to really uncork for most writers.
“I presume you’re going to focus on TV and online efforts plus the usual speaking tours, but I wrote years ago that you have a major work in you — a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff for the slacker generation. I still believe this. Maybe on the stage and maybe as a theatrical film or maybe as an online or VOD thing. I’m thinking of some kind of balls-out, drag-out husband-and-wife-and-their-friends whiplash-dialogue thing with few if any laughs, and lasting two or three hours. You’ve been married long enough to write it — you know all about this shit. You have to write & direct this, Kevin. You could be a funnier Neil Labute.”