Once Kevin Smith starts talking, it’s best just to sit back and enjoy the ride. On Sunday, during the Montreal leg of his “Red Province Tour” – an indie distribution effort in which Smith goes city to city to screen his penultimate film Red State -- Silent Bob spoke for a full 90 minutes, addressing only three questions during the Q&A, but touching on virtually every subject of interest.
Highlights included his encounters with Westboro Baptist Church spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper, choreographing his wife’s death scene in Red State, and his reasons for stepping away from filmmaking with the completion of Hit Somebody – which, the director revealed, will actually be two movies.
“Just when you think you’ve got me figured out, I’ll just quietly say, ‘Hey, by the way, it’s two parts.’ That’s how you prolong your stay: You make one movie and cut it into two!” he joked, adding, “I like short movies, and I try to keep all my shit pretty tight.”
Hit Somebody is based on the song of the same name by Warren Zevon and Mitch Albom, which tells the tale of a hockey player named Buddy who spends his career beating up opponents while privately wishing to score a goal. Smith said he realized there needed to be a second film when, 130 pages into the script, he was nowhere near the end of the story. Albom apparently agreed.
“I was writing the script and I sent it to Mitch, because he’s sort of the godfather of it, and it’s based on his song,” Smith explained. “I said to him, ‘It might be too big for a movie. Maybe we can go to HBO and do a miniseries or something.’ And he was like, ‘No, it has to be a film, dude. It reads cinematically. It’s beautiful.’”
Albom, a longtime Detroit sports writer and author of Tuesdays with Morrie, did make certain stipulations, however. “When I asked him if I could use his song as the basis of the movie, he said two things: ‘One, you can’t make fun of hockey, and two, you gotta shoot it in Detroit. The city needs the help. Shoot here.’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Breaking a film into two parts has become something of a trend in recent years, thanks to entries like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. However, Smith was quick to credit friend and fellow filmmaker Quentin Tarantino for having been the first to go that route with Kill Bill.
“Once again, I take that page out of Quentin’s book,” he said. “For Kill Bill, he was like, ‘Fuck it, I’m not losing anything! I’m making two movies!’”