Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith has been talking about the film Red State for a couple of years now, and his description has been enough to keep the project high on fan wishlists. “It’s this weird fucking dark little seventies horror movie that nobody wants to make,” Smith says. Despite the difficulty in getting funds for the film, Smith is determined to make it, ideally after he knocks out his hockey film Hit Somebody. The financing problem persists, but a suggestion originally transmitted via Twitter could provide some of the answer: get fans to donate the money themselves.

Keep in mind that any plan to put the fan funding into action is entirely in the theoretical stage. The headline isn’t yet “Internet Finances Red State.” But it’s an interesting notion, and if Smith and his company manage to navigate the loopholes he mentions below, it could become a cool model for other films. Here’s Smith describing the concept, which would involve him matching donations, during a recent roundtable, as covered by CINSSU:

We’re kind of creating this website. We’re seeing if it works to set up and collect donations. It becomes a weird tax nightmare, though…It sounded like such an easy thing online…but now there’s lots of checks and balances to make sure we can do it, but if that’s the case, I would be into it, and I’ll match it. Whatever you raise on line, like fuck it, you put it up, I’ll put it up.

There are problems with creating a model that works, but there is precedent for established artists using the web to fund their projects. Quite a few years ago the landmark German industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten started financing records by having fans buy into a subscription series that also gave access to in-studio webcasts and other materials as records were written and recorded. Other bands have done similar things, and if you dig around you’ll see many small musicians and filmmakers gathering funds via the internet. I don’t think a feature film has been funded this way, and not one by a filmmaker of Smith’s stature, but there’s a first time for everything.

Meanwhile, if you saw the red band trailer for Cop Out, you might have been thinking about why Warner Bros. released the first trailer at all. Smith wonders that, too.

[The studio] led, oddly enough, with a trailer that I didn’t agree with. They put out a trailer for Cop Out that I was like ‘You’re kidding? This is the trailer? There is way fucking funnier stuff in the movie, why aren’t you leading with that! Where’s all our edgy shit?’

But Smith doesn’t sound as if he’s too upset with the way Warner Bros. is handling the film. “I stand here with three and a half weeks until [Cop Out] hits theatres,” he says. “There is more awareness for this movie now then there was for Zack and Miri the day we opened.”

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