Kevin Smith Interview Part 2: The Walrus Suit, 'Yoga Hosers' Production And His Only 'Tusk' Regret

We've already heard from Kevin Smith about his impressive list of upcoming projects. He's also told us about what making Tusk meant to him. Now, in part two of our long interview with the filmmaker, we dig a little deeper. Smith goes into great detail about some of the more talked-about decisions he made in Tusk, which is now on Blu-ray.

First Smith talks about the decision to reveal the walrus suit so early in the film. That leads into a discussion of effects in general, his preferred tone, other problems people have with the film and then his biggest regret in the marketing of the film. (A mistake he says he'll never make again). He then talks about the inventive, aggressive schedule on Yoga Hosers, which is almost done filming. Read the rest of our Kevin Smith Tusk interview below.

This is the continuation of part 1, which you can read here.

Tusk trailer

/Film: The reveal of Wallace in the suit is a huge moment in the movie. I wondered why you did that reveal that so early?

Kevin Smith: My feeling was the only reason anyone's really tuned in is to see the human walrus. So rather than make them wait until like the third act, I was like "All right, we're before the hour mark, let's show them the walrus." And story wise it just kind of worked out for me to have it happen earlier rather than later. And then it was also a feeling of "Let's just hang a camera on it." Like "Look at it." You know, it's weird.

I know some people have been like "It doesn't look real," which always made me laugh. Of course it don't f***ing look real, man! Like do you know a real human walrus somewhere in the world? So, for me, I'm like you can't really attack the effect. Usually you don't show something because some people are like "That looks fake." But this is fake. There is no antecedent in the real world which somebody can point to and be like that doesn't look like a human walrus. So I was like "Let's show it as often as we can," because as a horror movie fan or as a rubber movie fan, you hate when they cut away. You wanna sit there and stare at it, look at all the seams and see what they put in the design and whatnot. And usually it's quick cuts in movies like that. But here, we just hold on that mother f***er so you can see it. Warts and all. And, it's part of the effect.

Like, I can't say the movie's horrifying unless you're like "I just can't believe he even made it. I'm horrified this movie exists and he's a terrible filmmaker." But I can say that "What I go for with Red State and Tusk is disturbing." I like to keep it disturbing. I can't horrify. I don't like have people pop out of nowhere and be like "Boo" and shit. But I love to keep people unsettled, just slightly disturbing, you know? And unsettle the viewer where they're kind of shifting in their seat. That's the fun of making a movie like this. It's different from making a comedy because the button that makes somebody laugh and the button to make somebody go "Huh," are pretty darn close. So for me, showing that suit was about "All right, let's unnerve them and leave them unnerved for the rest of the movie."

Tusk Image 2

Also, I thought it would be the dividing line for most people. People who are like "I'm giving this movie a chance," 'because, believe me, I understood this movie was not gonna be widely embraced. It asks a lot of the audience. But I always figured the walrus suit would be the dividing line. Where people are like "Well that's where he lost me." But it wasn't. There was some people that were like "The Guy Lapointe scenes are the dividing line." They're like "You were making an awesome horror movie up until that Guy Lapointe stuff." But I'm like "I don't know if I was interested in making an awesome horror movie. I just wanted to make a Smodcast picture." And if we were gonna do that, it can't be one thing. It's gotta like "You talk about this and this is f***ed up." And then you make a bunch of jokes and then you f***ing do funny accents, but it's usually about Canada.

I mean, to me, in order to do what I want it to be – which is a true Smodcast picture so to speak – which sounds a little first world, but whatever. Here in the arts we are all very first world. But in order to do that, I wanted it to be as close to the podcast, not the podcast that birthed it, although we stayed very close to that as well as a blueprint, but just like the show that spawned it. Like it's a bouillabaisse of a lot of shit. And sometimes it's unsettling and creepy and then sometimes it's kind of funny. But it's always honest. And hanging that camera on the walrus and having him early in the movie just felt like the more honest thing to do. Like knowing that everyone's going like show us the walrus, dude, show us... You know, I felt bad it took that long. But, you know, I feel like it was the right move.

Kevin Smith directing Tusk

Kevin Smith (cont:) Here's my only regret, I wish that we had put the f***ing suit in the trailer. That's it. And in the TV...well there was no TV spots really. But just to have an awareness of, it. In retrospect I was like "Wow, how stupid of us to not show the f***ing walrus." But the whole philosophy was if we show it, people might not go. Then this movie's not gonna appeal to everybody anyway, so chances are a lot of people aren't gonna go so, maybe the idea in the future –  like we're making two more rubber movies. There's Yoga Hosers and there's rubber monsters in that. And then Moose Jaws and there's a big rubber monster in that. You can guarantee in the trailer, man, you're gonna see every piece of the monster 'cause that's the hook. Now there are a bunch of people online going "Holy crap, that's just weird, I wish I'd known." That was irresponsible. We should have put the walrus in the trailer. So I'll f***ing do that from now on. Even if the walrus isn't in the movie I made, I will put the walrus in the trailer.

All right, understood. Now you mentioned Yoga Hosers you're just about done with that. Then you're gonna do Clerks III.

Yeah, let me see what's today, the 21st or 22nd?

The 22nd [of December, 2014].

We go back in and we shoot on the 28th, the 29th and the 30th. Then we wrap for the holiday a little bit for 31st and the 1st. Then we pick up again on January 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. And then we have a greenscreen day a week later and then we're done. So it's been a really cool spread out schedule. We this we learned to work this way on Tusk, because we shot 15 days of the movie in North Carolina and then three four months later, we picked up the last two days which is all the Guy Lapointe stuff in California. Just kind of at the mercy of the schedule a little bit. So this time around, same thing. We were like "Look, we need to shoot a bunch of the movie, everything that doesn't involve Guy Lapointe and then when Johnny [Depp]'s free, we can jump back and shoot the rest.

Yoga Hosers Johnny Depp

So we got a call a couple weeks back right at the end of November about like "Hey, man, there's a window in December." And we were all thinking it was gonna be like February, March and stuff. But they were like "There's a window in December, you wanna go?" And we were like "Oh Lord yes." So we've been running and gunning pretty fast.

The good news is that we mounted the entire production in less than four weeks last time. Let me see, from the moment I finished the draft, which was on April 20th, we were on a set three months and 29 days later. So we started like we had less than four months. When you go that fast, I didn't do multiple drafts of the script. You don't have the luxury of doing multiple drafts of the script because you're like "Oh my Lord, we're catching a wave, let's go, let's go." So again, getting the movie in front of cameras, most important thing. And make sure you actually shoot the movie, not holding on to a script you love for 10 years and waiting and waiting and waiting. So, you know, the moment you go that fast, you don't get the luxury of like "Oh this is a better version of the script." So with the way we shot the movie in terms of shooting a bunch and then shutting down and waiting to shoot the rest, I'm able to go back, I'm able to re-edit, I'm able to move scenes around, I'm able to rewrite a script for scenes that we haven't shot yet.

I'd always heard in my career that Woody Allen always had a percentage of his budgets put aside to do reshoots or something. To go back in like a month or two after he puts the movie together so he can make a better version of the movie. And he keeps a percentage of the budget for that very purpose. And we've kind of run into a default version of that by virtue of the fact that we shoot the movies broken up. So I'm given so much time to live with the footage, with the material, where I could just be like "Oh we could do this, we could do this, I could set this up better in the third act." So same way here, we wrapped in what was it? September, second week of September or something. Then we were down until October 27th. We went and did greenscreen day. That's when I shaved my beard and put up that picture and whatnot, 'cause I was doing a rubber effect. And now we're going back so that was, let me see, October, so November, December. So you know, about two months later we're going back and now finishing it. So it's a leisurely way to shoot the movie, that's for sure. But the movie's low budget, so you're also have that kind of maneuverability. It was nice to be able to shutdown, save a bunch of money and then open up production again months later when you're ready to go. 'Cause the budget of this is under five million. Gotta keep this shit cheap, man. That's the only way they'll let me make these movies, make them cheap and cool. That's the only way I know how to do it.

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The interview then concluded with me asking about Hit Somebody, which you can read about here.

Thanks to Kevin Smith for being so generous with his time. Tusk is now on Blu-ray. Yoga Hosers hits theaters in 2015.