Clerks Poster

Thoughts on the 20th Anniversary of Clerks

January 22, 1994. Park City, Utah. The Sundance Film Festival.

A black-and-white movie about a convenience store, a video store, and the antics of the employees.

At the time, I barely had an understanding of what an R-rated movie was. But 3 years later in the Summer of 1997, on a trip to the local video store, I would make the decision to rent Clerks. Something about it was special. But I still didn’t understand. The next time that Clerks would enter my VCR would be 2 years later, and that would be the point when things would change.

Clerks Poster

Clerks Poster

I had just seen Mallrats and laughed a lot. I remembered Jay and Silent Bob, and had to go back and find where I had seen them before. The was pre-Google. It took a couple weeks to find Clerks, and watch it again. That was it for me. It would be another few years before I would discover the rest of the directors that I would transform me into a film lover and sometimes snob, but it all started with Kevin Smith and Clerks.

The different between a movie and a film is something that has always interested me. Obviously there really isn’t much of a difference. Most people understand that a movie is a film, a film is a movie. I’ve always loved watching movies. Clerks made me appreciate film.

I always appreciated that the movie was shot in black & white. It made it different. On the first viewing I thought it was a cool change. Now, I understand that it was both an artistic and a budgetary answer. Part of the beauty of Clerks is the sense of real life, the every day minutia, presented in a classic film look. It’s a brilliant juxtaposition.

Kevin Smith has taught me a lot about being a filmmaker and being a creator. I’d be lying if I said that his work, his films, his podcasts, and the way he does things hasn’t influenced me. It obviously has. To be perfectly honest, Follow Networks wouldn’t exist without Clerks and Kevin.

Clerks put an image of the everyday man front and center. It challenged the audience with its honesty and realism. This was how people talked and acted, and it here it was on the screen. No explosions or unwarranted effects, just realistic people talking and living their life. It was the perfect amount of dirty and nerdy and free. It had hockey. Limited by budget and time, it had a great “choose your own what happened” scene in a funeral home, which would later be animated but still works for me, even after knowing exactly what happens. Most importantly, something in Clerks produces a creative spark in a lot of people (Smith included) that has given us even more brilliant content.

I’ve introduced a lot of people to Clerks. “You’ve never seen Clerks? What are you doing tonight?” Plenty of situations like that. They often lead to Mallrats and Chasing Amy and Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and eventually Clerks II (which I love). Then they lead to the rest of the catalogue of Smith films. They all still get me. But they all rest on one thing.

January 22, 1994. Park City, Utah. The Sundance Film Festival.

On January 25, 2014 in Park City at Sundance, they celebrated the 20th Anniversary with a midnight screening and Q&A of Clerks. I celebrated by finishing a script, and planning how I was going to film a movie. Without Clerks I would have never become interested in making movies. I would have never cared about dialogue. I wouldn’t have made the distinction between what makes Smith or Rodriguez or Tarantino or Scorsese so impressive to me. Finding Clerks helped to shape what I loved. It made me into a creator.

I can’t think it enough for that.

Later this year Clerks III will enter production and I’m extremely excited to see what happens with it. Clerks II worked really well for me, and I believe that the third can have all the magic again.

Take some time this week to rewatch Clerks. It’s on Netflix. It’s been 20 years, but great movies are always great.

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