Fans of Kevin Smith’s View Askew Universe may be quite familiar with Zak Knutson. The co-writer and director of the new comedy “Supercon” worked for a decade for Smith, often producing and directing Smith’s independent video projects. To honor his friend, he named Seth Rogen’s character “Zack” in “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.” And his face will be familiar to anyone that saw “Clerks II.” He was “the Sexy Stud,” the purveyor of “Inter-species Erotica” – better known as “the Donkey Show,” at the end of the film.
Promoting his first feature film as director, Zak took some time out to chat with me about being in charge and why Clancy Brown is actually a funny guy.
Mike Smith: I’ve worked behind the scenes at enough conventions to know that you have too! What was your inspiration to make “Supercon?”
Zak Knutson: I worked for Kevin Smith for about 10 years so naturally I was exposed to the con culture. And then I started going to them with my friend Dana Snyder, who does the voice of Master Shake on “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,.” I went with him down to Florida to the actual SUPERCON and I really got see all of the people and the different things going on. I realized we hand’t seen a movie set in that place before. In that kind of culture.
MS: A brilliant stroke of genius in casting Clancy Brown as Adam King. Most people wouldn’t think of him when doing a comedy. How did you settle on him for the role?
ZK: I have always been a huge fan of Clancy Brown, going all the way back to “Bad Boys.”
ZK: Exactly…Viking. But if you notice, the one thing that Clancy does in almost every single one of his performances, even though they weren’t comedic, he was funny in them. He would find that humility, that human side of the character, even if he was being the most evil of guys. He could just have a delivery on a line that could be funny. And I just thought, “this guy would be funny in a comedy.” He knew when somebody else was being funny to sit back. He just had everything. I was so excited to be able to ask him. And he said, ‘I’m not really a comedy guy,’ and I said, “but you are. You are.” And it worked out. He is one of the best things in the movie.
MS: The same with Malkovich? How were you able to get him?
ZK: Malkovich was a strange one. He actually ended up getting a hold of a script. I thought he was going to be Adam King, because he hadn’t been cast yet, or he was going to be Gil Bartell (the convention promoter, played in the film by Mike Epps). But he had read Sid and he wanted to play Sid. We got a call that said ‘John Malkovich wants to play a part.’ How do you say no? So we went back and scaled the character down to his age, because it was originally written for a Stan Lee-95-year old kind of guy. We scaled it down. But the hair and the bow tie, those are all John. He came ready to have a good time.
MS: Any plans on showing the film at conventions?
ZK: I think we’re going to take it to Florida in July, to the actual SUPERCON. Clancy’s coming with me. We’re all going down for a big SUPERCON to-do.
MS: What do you have coming up next?
ZK: Next up is a documentary that we’re getting ready to announce that is pretty awesome. And I sold a script to a couple of people and it looks like later on this summer we’ll be able to shoot it. Time is going to tell with the money on that one. But next up is the doc.
MS: On the script you sold, will you be attached as director?
ZK: Yes, I am. But again, it’s kind of all up in the air right now.