Kevin Smith On Why You Don't Have To Be Kevin Smith To Try Innovative New Things
from the and-anyone-who-tells-you-otherwise-should-be-ignored dept
It’s become a bit of a running joke that whenever a creator finds success with an innovative new business model, detractors insist that it’s the exception rather than the rule—that it only worked because the artist was big, or small, or medium-sized, or whatever. A commenter once dubbed this Masnick’s Law (which has since turned up on Urban Dictionary). This most often comes up in relation to music, but it’s just as true of other creative industries, and especially film—with one example being Kevin Smith’s unique DIY distribution plan for his movie Red State, which critics claimed would only work for him and no-one else.
Joshua Jones points us to video of a Google+ Hangout organized by MyFoxLA, in which Kevin Smith answers questions from fans (full video embedded below). At the nine minute mark, one participant asks him about these criticisms of his Red State business model, and Smith’s response is (as usual) pure gold:
Anyone that tells you “oh he could do it because he’s Kevin Smith”—tell ’em horseshit, man. That’s somebody who’s trying to tell you “don’t try, you can’t try, he did it, he can do it, you can’t do it.” Don’t listen to that shit man. Think of life and progress as a game—I always think of it in terms of a game of hockey. When you’re skating with the puck towards the net there’s always a motherfucker trying to hook you from behind, just to slow you up enough, ’cause nobody wants to see anybody succeed. So don’t listen to that. When you hear somebody go “well of course he could do it, he’s Kevin Smith”—those same assholes, before I did it, were like “it’s never gonna work, it’s dumb, he crazy”. And then when it worked, they didn’t go like “you know what? we were wrong”—instead they say “well only he could do it because he’s Kevin Smith” and I say horseshit. Kevin Smith wasn’t always Kevin Smith, nor was Kevin Smith the little kid that pulled the fucking sword from the stone.
Smith goes on to note that the opposite is also true—just because the Red State approach has potential for others doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone. His success isn’t rooted in the specifics of what he did, but rather in the underlying philosophy of connecting with fans and offering them something more than just another movie:
Now am I going to say like, this is the only way it should ever be done forever? No but you’re always looking for alternatives, because the old method doesn’t so much work anymore. You can’t just put a commercial on TV and expect a bunch of people to show up and see it at the movie theatres. They have too many choices. They can just stay home and surf porn on the internet. Why would you want to go see The Avengers when you can watch like three people having sex from the privacy of your own home? You’re competing for attention, and in a world where you’re competing for attention, you have to figure out ways to make it more interesting for the audience to come out. It’s no longer enough to be like “here’s the movie, come see it”.
This is a point we’ve made many times—there is no magic bullet solution that will work for every content creator—but Smith, in his signature style, really hammers it home. Fans are eager to spend money on artists who connect with them and give them a reason to buy, but every fan-base is unique, so those connections and those reasons are never going to be identical.