The man can talk.
I mean, he writes and directs great, quirky, vulgar movies (“Clerks,” “Chasing Amy,” “Dogma”) and he writes comics and isn’t a half-bad actor, but mostly what Kevin Smith does best is talk about himself, his work, his friends, his experiences, pop culture, and everyone and everything around him. I’ve seen him talk before, so I thought I was prepared when I went to “An Afternoon with Kevin Smith” at the Orange County Convention Center Saturday in Orlando. “Ha!” I thought to myself. “I can go and take notes and then blog about it in an amusing fashion! ‘2:30: Smith walks out. 2:31: First genitalia reference. Drink! Drink! 2:34: abuses questioner to the delight of all, etc.'”
The event, hosted by Florida Future Filmmakers, featured a screening of “Clerks 10th Anniversary,” some interview clips, and promised he would do a Q&A from 2 till 4, with the warning that he usually went long.
He talked for over 6 hours.
Aside from one 15 minute break so the sponsors could do a raffle he went nonstop, taking questions and telling tales until nearly 9 pm, after a third of the 4,000 people attending had been forced to leave, presumably for pressing engagements or bloodflow issues.
Every question elicited at least 20 minutes of response, often wildly veering from the original topic. He called friends and relatives of fans on their cellphones (and left one hilarious out-message by request), he dispensed hugs, and he talked openly and candidly about his weight, his career, his wife, his friends, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, and Jason Mewes. It was hysterical, it was informative, some of it was undoubtedly invaluable to wannabe filmmakers, and maybe 45 minutes of it could be quoted on a family-friendly website.
On directing comic book movies: “I’m not really talented enough to pull off a big visual spectacle like that. Besides, if I do then I give up my right to make fun of them.”
On “Superman Returns”: “Turns out Jon Peters was right, it really could have benefited from a huge spider.”
On breaking into the film business: “It’s not like it was when I got in, all the little indie films now have big name celebrities in them and you have to compete with that. […] Someone’s going to come up with a new paradigm, a new way to get it out there.”
I’m sure I can think of more, but I’m still recovering both from the laughter and the sitting-on-a-folding-chair-for-9-hours thing. I definitely got my money’s worth, I can say that, even counting the serious cash I blew at the autographed merchandise table beforehand. Now I just have a few new terms to explain to my 14-year-old son who came with me, and I can move on.