Kevin Smith’s 5 tips for young filmmakers

Kevin Smith Filmmaking

Starting with his breakthrough cult hit Clerks, Kevin Smith has spent the last two decades not only directing films, but making his way as an actor, comic book writer and more recently, a podcaster. As his latest film Yoga Hosers currently shows at Edinburgh Film Festival, Smith shared with Dazed his advice to young filmmakers. Below are his 5 best tips to the next generation:

Find your own voice

“In this world, make what you want to see cause at the end of the day there’s a bunch of people whose journey is not that dissimilar from yours. The more you do it the more it becomes the norm, and then the industry is no longer like a shitty boys club. You can’t sit in the darkness of a movie theatre and bitch that you don’t see yourself or your world represented up there if you’re not going to take the steps to be there and be that person. Nothing comes from complaints, things come from action. Take a little snapshot of your world, man. That connects with a bunch of people. Like Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy, these were my world, this is where I live, these are the people I know.”

Be creative with your pitching

“Producers are never going to come to you and ask you to join them, it doesn’t work like that. It’s a big house and everyone will try to walk through the front door. Look at all the windows, look at the cellar doors, look at all the backdoors. There are other ways to get in. But don’t try the front door; it’s full of the same fucking people.”

 Don’t think about other people

“You’re like a snowflake or a fingerprint because nobody thinks like you do. You are a unique little content generator! And alongside everything that you are, you’re also a storyteller. Nobody else is going to tell your story, nobody ever shows up to your house and knocks at your door and wants to tell your story to others. If you want to tell it, you should want to tell it and all you have to do is step forward and tell it. Don’t sit there and think ‘what do people want to see?’ There are so many people worrying and wondering about what others want, and you can’t even predict that sort of shit.”

Absorb as much art as possible

“I never learnt anything about who I was in school and I never learnt anything about who I was in church – the closest thing that helped me figure out who I was, was engaging in the arts and the movies I watched. It was by reading books and listening to music too, so you give somebody like that a mirror and the chance to see themselves or you create that mirror yourself and you can work for a long time. You don’t need to be artistic to create art, you don’t need the talent to self-express. Self-expression is something you can do. You have this voice and your voice is your alternative to life, your voice is present to which you see everything and then you send it back out to the world.”

Be pushy

“Don’t take no for an answer and don’t let somebody say you’re not talented. Don’t let people get you down. You know who’s going to be your biggest opponent? That’s you. The inner monologue will kick in and you’ll think who are you? Don’t do that. And don’t think ‘fuckin’ hell, I’m going to fail’. Don’t listen to that shit. I’m telling you, if you fail at something it means you’re just going to get it right next time.”

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