Kevin Smith may be the greatest public speaker I have ever seen. The thing that makes him so entertaining, besides being funny as fuck, is his honesty. When someone really lets down their guard and lays things out on the table straight, it’s so refreshing. I knew Kevin was a good writer and fun to listen to, but I never thought he would inspire me the way he has. 


Kevin’s new film, Red State, is playing at the New Beverly Cinema this week for an Academy qualifying run. I’d heard lots of buzz about the movie, mixed reviews, but mostly about how Kevin was self distributing the film and screening it only when he could be there to talk about it afterwards. A novel and hands on approach to filmmaking to be sure. I’d only met Kevin once, incredibly briefly, at a Spaced screening a few years ago, but he was incredibly stoned and I knew there would be no way he would remember me. 


But remember me he did. He came into the theater the first night, and when I introduced myself he said “Hi Julia, I know you, we’ve met before.” Color me surprised. He confessed he had never been to the New Beverly before (how is that possible?) but upon the second screening of the night was already praising its atmosphere and awesome audience. The screenings have brought in hundreds of folks who have never been to the theater before, which is always exciting. I hope they will come back and visit us again. 


One of my jobs during this run has been to keep Kevin’s Q&A’s short – a sad role to fulfill. When he starts talking, you don’t ever want him to stop, but we’ve got two shows a night and someone’s got to be the timer. I’ve listened to every talk he’s given thus far at the theater and every night I laugh my ass off. He’s conversational, controversial and so incredibly comfortable in front of an audience. Just hearing 200 people laughing all at once is an incredible experience, whether or not you’re the one making them do it. 


Kevin admits that he got complacent in the middle of his career but now, on his second to last film, he’s back to the passionate filmmaker he was when he made Clerks. He’s making films that he’s always wanted to make, critics and audience be damned. His “what the fuck” attitude is engaging and contagious. He encourages others to go out and make whatever art they are passionate about, not worrying about what others think. Every story he tells, even if I have heard it before, has me smiling and nodding. I constantly want to shout out “Fuck yeah!”


But last night caught me off guard. Kevin recalled his father’s death, which was sudden, and of how he had screamed up until the very moment of his demise. He told us that in a world where even good guys end up screaming while they’re dying, there’s no time to wait on chasing your dreams. He told us to say what we want to say, to do things we love, to be your true self. My mind was blown. I admire Kevin Smith so much for laying his soul out in front of his audience in the hopes that maybe something he  says will touch someone else. 


Well, Kevin, here I am saying what I want to say. Your words have  inspired me to write this, and tell everyone how much your talks have touched me. I’ve been feeling very static in my acting career, waiting for others to cast me. Fuck it. I need to make my own art, even if it’s just me talking into my own flip cam. Acting makes me feel alive, its something I should be doing everyday, not just when someone else gives me an opportunity. I know this post can’t help but come off as hokey, but so what? I’m writing from my heart – the only way I know how to write. I’m sad you won’t be making films anymore, working with you has always been a dream of mine. But I think you’re doing what you feel is right for you, and I wouldn’t want to dissuade anyone from doing that. 

Thanks for coming to the New Beverly and for talking with such enthusiasm and honesty –  please don’t ever stop doing that.