Kevin Smith is a polarizing figure in geekdom. But regardless of what you think about his movies, comics, or podcast empire, you can’t argue against his passion. Smith is an amazing storyteller – not so much in his most recent films, mind you, but in the physical act of actually telling a story. He gets swept away in descriptions, and once he gets going on a subject, it’s tough to shut him up about it. Well, Smith recently had the opportunity to visit the set of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII, and luckily for us, he spoke about it at the Neuchatel International Film Festival in Switzerland (via /Film):
For those of you who don’t have time to watch Smith tell his tale, here’s a big chunk of what he had to say transcribed out:
What I saw, I absolutely loved. It was tactile — it was real. It wasn’t a series of fucking green screens and blue screens in which later a bunch of digital characters would be added. It was there, it was happening. I saw old friends who I haven’t seen since my childhood, who aren’t really friends, but I love them more than some of my fucking relatives. I saw uniforms, I saw artillery I haven’t seen since I was a kid. I saw them shooting an actual sequence in a set that was real. I walked across the set, there were explosions. And it looked like a shot right out of a fucking Star Wars movie…
[A guy] turns the lights on and there is the Millennium Falcon from my childhood. Now the ship outside looks like a movie set, but the inside, fully replicated, fully built. The guy told me, they took two blueprints: Star Wars and Empire, because the cockpit in Empire – never knew this before – the cockpit from Empire was bigger than the cockpit in Star Wars. So they went somewhere between the two. So he takes me over and I’m just looking at it. You look at it from the outside and you can still see inside. I don’t presume we’re going aboard or anything, and then Morgan [JJ’s assistant] says “You ready to go up?” I said, “We can go on it?!”…
As I walked up that ramp I realized something was missing from those other movies [the prequels] and its now in these movies. And its not the obvious like ‘hey the Millennium Falcon’ or ‘hey the characters that we know are returning.’ Its something else entirely — he’s building a tactile world, a world you can touch. And he’s replicating with all the love of someone who has the world’s greatest collection of Star Wars figures. And when you walk on that set man, I don’t know how else to describe it except thusly: you use another pop culture reference to describe this pop culture phenomenon. It is like the Field of Dreams, the Kevin Costner movie. And if JJ builds it, we’re all going to come hard, because its amazing. It looks fantastic. So anyone out there wondering if hes going to pull it off, he’s pulling it off. He showed me cut scenes, he showed me sequences, images, pictures. I cried and I hugged that guy. And I’m sure as I was crying on him and hugging, he was thinking “time is money” because theyre making a movie. But he got it. He was very flattered. And I was like, ‘Honestly dude, you’re doing it. You’re making my childhood again. You’re doing our Star Wars.’ What I saw, blew me away.
Some people would (rightly) call Kevin Smith a long-winded guy, but I’m always fascinated by him. He’s a terrific public speaker, and I actually think he’s much better at that stuff than he is at making movies (I’m guessing he’d probably agree with that, by the way). That’s not to say I’ve hated every movie he’s made – not true – but there’s something about just sitting back and listening to him talk that’s enjoyable for me. The guy is an unapologetic geek, and he’s not afraid to genuinely profess his love for something. In today’s cynical culture, professing your love for something is often seen as a sign of weakness, but Smith doesn’t care. He loves what he loves, and I admire that.
OK, let’s jump into the second piece of info regarding Smith. Over the weekend, a report from MovieWeb came out that could have huge effects on the film blogging world. Essentially, it claims that Smith was commissioned by producer Charles Roven and director Zack Snyder to write a fake screenplay for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and “leak” it to gossip sites in the hopes of throwing everyone off from what is REALLY going to happen in the movie. If this is true, then most of the Batman v Superman stuff that we and every other movie blog have written about in the past few months is totally bogus, and we’ve been playing right into Warner Bros.’ hands this entire time. This would be a next-level marketing fake out, and it would take the relationship between movie studios and scoop hunters to a whole different playing field: we’ve seen filmmakers lie directly to the press before to preserve surprises (Abrams and Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness, for example), but paying someone to write a fake screenplay and leak info seems like a lot of work to protect a movie.
However, I can totally see Warner Bros. leaking THIS story to the press just to mess with them in the hopes that there will be some doubt cast on all of the scoops and reporting that’s gone on over the past few months. And the practicality of Smith – a busy guy who’s constantly working on podcasts, writing his own screenplays, and filming small indie movies like Tusk – having the time to write a convincing script in his spare time seems a bit questionable to me. We’ll have to wait and see what shakes out here, but as usual, continue to take all movie rumors with a grain of salt until we hear anything official from the studio.
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