Book Review “Shootin’ the Sh*t with Kevin Smith: The Best of the SModcast”

Author: Kevin Smith
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: September 22, 2009

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I have to start this buy saying I never (and still haven’t) got into the whole podcast phenomenon.  I am sure that they are absolutely hilarious if you chosen the right one  but I never found the interest.  SModcast began back in February 5, 2007 and this book is perfect for people that have not been listening this day one. This book consists of transcriptions of Kevin Smith’s favorite SModcasts.

The conversations between Kevin and his friend/producer Scott Mosier are absolutely priceless.  There are no topics that are safe and nothing that is too weird.  I don’t know how it is possible but an example from SModcast 78, the duo mixes the topics of jaundice and wait of it “Star Wars”.  Absolutely classic.  Jennifer Connelly takes topic in SModcast 37 and the guys talk about her remaking movies. I just need to quote a line from this one: “KS: If  somebody said “Jennifer Connelly is going to be in a remake of Goodfellas, do you get mad?”, SM: I don’t think that there is a remake that would make me mad.”  The topics are mostly for adults only and are very raunchy but that is what makes them so funny.

This book isn’t just transcriptions, there is also fun illustrations by Michael Macari. Kevin Smith honestly knows his way with words and of course we all found that out with the script from “Clerks” and his work following.  If you enjoyed “My Boring-Ass Life”, this is a great companion to that.  Honestly I am sure that these are much funnier with live audio but this is a great way to catch up on the back log and just get the best of.  “Shootin’ the Sh*t with Kevin Smith” is a must for all fans of his work!

Interview with Charles Martin Smith

Charles Martin Smith is probably best known to film fans for his role as Terry “the Toad” Fields, everybody’s favorite tag along in “American Graffiti.” The son of animator Frank Smith (“Mr. Magoo,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas”), Smith began his acting career appearing in school productions. His early work includes “The Culpepper Cattle Company,” starring Gary Grimes and his soon to be “Graffiti” co-star Bo Hopkins as well as an appearance as the young man who sells Greg Brady a lemon of a car on “The Brady Bunch.” But it was “American Graffiti” that made him an actor to remember. He spent the majority of the 1970s making guest appearances in most of the popular television series of the time. He also returned to the role of Terry the Toad in “More American Graffiti” and co-starred with Gary Busey and Don Stroud in the Oscar winning bio “The Buddy Holly Story.” In 1983 he starred in director Carroll Ballard’s acclaimed film “Never Cry Wolf.” It was on this film that Mr. Smith tried his hand at writing, composing his own narration for the film. He closed the decade with co-starring roles in “The Untouchables” and the under-rated John Travolta comedy “The Experts.”

In 1986 he entered the next phase of his career when he went behind the camera, directing Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne in the horror-comedy “Trick or Treat.” He continued to direct episodic television programs, including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Space: Above and Beyond” and “DaVinci’s Inquest” while still feeding the acting bug. In 2003 he wrote and directed the film “Snow Walker,” which starred Barry Pepper and James Cromwell. The film was a film festival success, earning Mr. Smith numerous nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay. His follow up, “Stone of Destiny,” was equally acclaimed, earning Mr. Smith the Best Director award at the Palm Beach International Film Festival as well as a BAFTA Scotland Award nomination. His current project, “Dolphin Tale,” is set for release this fall.

It was while doing post-production work on “Dolphin Tale” that Mr. Smith spared a few minutes to talk with MovieMikes about his career.

Mike Smith: Your father was a very successful animator. Did his work inspire you to seek an acting career?
Charles Martin Smith: My father was a successful animator, so growing up in Los Angeles I was around films as a child. But not around live action films, so that world still seemed mysterious and inaccessible to me. It was a great benefit, though, to live in LA, and to go to University here, as I did, at CSUN. I had great acting and directing teachers and had access to an agent, etc. My father, more than anything, taught me about art, and his amazing creativity and perfectionism as an artist…he was a sculptor and designer, and did many things besides cartoons…he taught me a lot.

MS: Your first television role was as the young man who sold Greg Brady a junk car on “The Brady Bunch.” Have you ever thought about buying something and then thought “caveat emptor?”
CMS: Caveat emptor? Ha, no not really. That was technically my second TV role. My first was a special also involving the Brady Bunch. It was made by ABC to advertise their new season of Saturday morning cartoons. I got those roles right after my first professional acting job, “The Culpepper Cattle Company”, a western for 20th Century Fox.

MS: You and Ron Howard were the only two actors in “American Graffiti” that were actually close to high school age when it was filmed. Did you have any idea that this little film would strike such a chord with the public?
CMS: “Graffiti” was a low budget film but it had a good pedigree. Francis (Ford Coppola) was the producer, and Universal was behind the film, at least to a limited extent. And George Lucas had a lot of buzz and hype about him. After “THX-1138” he was considered a hot young director. All of the actors in the film (and you’re right, Ron and I were both 18), believed in the movie, and in George. We were thrilled to be part of such a good project, as the script was excellent, and, as I say, George was so talented. We thought the movie would be very good, we just weren’t sure it would get noticed as it was so low budget.

MS: Did you already know how to play bass when you took the role of Ray Bob in “The Buddy Holly Story?” And did you ever meet or speak with Joe B. Maudlin (NOTE: Maudlin was Buddy Holly’s bass player in the Crickets), on who the character was based?
CMS: Yes. I had been a musician since age 8 when I began learning piano, then guitar, and all during my teenage years I was in rock and roll bands, joining my older brother Dan’s band while in high school. We played gigs all around LA. I played guitar mostly in the band. Dan is a bass player, and a very good one, although his career since he got his Doctorate in Public Health has been as a research scientist for the California Health Department. I gave up thoughts of a music career when I began getting acting gigs, but “Buddy Holly” was a natural for me. I had played around with my brother’s bass many times, and as a guitar player, it wasn’t too hard to learn it. I got the stand up bass 2 months before we began filming and taught myself to play. I played all the music in the film live, and sang backup vocals live as well. Great fun. I did meet Joe B at the film’s premier in Dallas. He was very nice…shy, and it was a bit awkward as they had mixed feelings about the movie. They meaning himself and Jerry Allison (NOTE: Allison was the drummer for the Crickets). But it was great to meet him, and I even got his autograph!

MS: In my opinion, “More American Graffiti” is very under appreciated. Do you have any ideas why it wasn’t as well received as “American Graffiti?”
CMS: Well, I think it didn’t strike a chord with people the way “American Graffiti” did. I think George had a better story and grasp of the 50s than he did of the 60s. I loved my role in it and the Vietnam story in the sequel was the best written part of the script, I think. I’m very proud of that movie.

MS: You were critically acclaimed (and deservedly so) for your performance in “Never Cry Wolf.” What are your memories about that production?
CMS: “Never Cry Wolf” was an amazing experience. I spent three years on the film. I could write a book about the experience. We filmed for one and a half years, largely without a script. Carroll Ballard is a very gifted artist, and it’s probably the most wonderful experience I’ve ever had in a film. He invited me to write the narration as well, and I was on the film all the way through post production. I could not have ever directed a film without having had that experience with him. He taught me so much, and I’m extremely proud of that film.

MS: You gave another acclaimed performance in “The Untouchables.” Was your character based on a real member of Elliot Ness’ team?
CMS: My character in “The Untouchables” was a sort of amalgam of a few people in the US Government who went after Al Capone, so no, it was not really based on a real person. It was a fun character though, and the shoot was a great experience. I learned an enormous amount from (director Brian) De Palma, and from Sean Connery. I saw Sean two years ago in Scotland as my film “Stone of Destiny” premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Sean was the host of the evening, so it was a great reunion.

MS: You’ve grown into a successful writer/director. Do you have a preference of being in front of or behind the camera?
CMS: I enjoy both acting and writing/directing. I do love writing, and although it may be a surprise to people, I have actually done quite a bit of work as a writer, without acting or directing. I love making films, writing and directing them, but must confess that it’s much more stressful and challenging. Sometimes it’s nice to be an actor, without having to carry the burden of the whole film, and just to be able to focus on that job. I love being able to trade off.

MS: Can you tell us about your latest project, “Dolphin Tale?”
CMS: “Dolphin Tale” is based on a true story about Winter, a dolphin who was rescued in Florida. She was so badly injured that she eventually lost her tail. This is how dolphins swim of course, so her rescuers finally hit upon the idea of making a prosthetic tail for her. It’s a very heartwarming and emotional story, and in writing it, and directing it, I tried to tell a good story, with humor and heart. I was very honored to be able to shoot it with Winter playing herself! It’s a sweet film, and we will be in the theatres Sept 23, released by Warner Brothers.

Interview with Darren Gordon Smith

Darren Gordon Smith is a composer who is most known for his “Repo! The Genetic Opera”. The film started as a Ten-Minute Opera that Darren created with Terrance Zdunich and since then it has become a cult phenomenon spawning a huge fan base and weekly midnight screenings. MovieMikes has the opportunity to talk to Darren about the process of bringing “Repo” from the beginning to its present cult form.

Click here to purchase “Repo! The Genetic Opera”

Mike Gencarelli: Darren, You Co-Created “Repo! The Genetic Opera”, how did you come up with the story? What inspired it?
Darren Smith: The idea was based on a friend of mine, who had a dental practice and he was getting all of his equipment repossessed. I started thinking it was sort of absurd, like people were going to sitting in the dentist office in the middle of a procedure and they just come and take their equipment. I started then thinking about what if you had bought body organs on credit. The health care system got so bad that you couldn’t even buy a heart unless you made payments on it. That was the genesis of the idea. At the time Terrance Zdunich, my partner, and I were doing Ten-Minute Opera performing all over LA. He had an idea about a grave robber and his idea was taking back into the 19th century. I said we should combine this with my idea and make it set in 2056. We made a Ten-Minute Opera called “Necromerchant’s Debt”. We would do this mini rock opera performed by the both of us and it turned out that it was the one that people loved the best. We decided to make it into a full scale show. From that “Repo” was born.

Mike Gencarelli: What was your process for coming up the music for the film?
Darren Smith: That is a great question, I do have a background in classical music and compositions and a music degree from NYU. Having said that I definitely play a lot of different kinds of music. The Ten-Minute Operas we did ranged from 18th century harpsichord music to Nine Inch Nails to Led Zepplin. We did whatever. When it came to “Repo”, we loved the idea of the obscurity of the main guys and the over the top nature of the Italian opera. So when we were writing “Repo” that is when I started doing more research in opera. I focused on trying to use the right light composition and how to structure an opera both musically and story-wise.

Mike Gencarelli: How was it like working which such an amazing cast?
Darren Smith: We had THE best cast ever for the movie. That really helped us to expand our music. When you are you are writing for someone like Sarah Brightman, you can expand the music because since she can sing almost anything. Darren Bousman deserves a lot of credit as the director. Darren, Terrance and myself had a hand in every aspect of the production, from the visual, costuming, props, and music. It was a really great experience.

MG: “Repo” was the first feature film you wrote, how did you find the process of bringing the music to the big screen?
We did the Ten-Minute Opera first, then in 2002 we did a full scale opera on stage. We had experience doing the whole process on stage. Then we did it off-broadway at the Wings Theatre in NYC in 2005. When we got the go ahead green light from Lionsgate for the film, on the one hand it wasn’t a huge leap and the other hand it was. When I say that it is because Terrance and I have always envision “Repo” would be a film. We wanted to have total control over the visual element and things you just can’t do when you are doing stage with 99 seats. Unlike a lot of films, we work-shopped the music and the story over the course of almost ten years. We had a good feeling of what was going to work with the audience and what was not.

MG: How do you affected by the responses the film has got so far, some are comparing it to Rocky Horror Picture Show?
DS: Yeah, certainly. We are humbled by that since “Rocky Horror” is brilliant. We are on the shoulders of giants. It is gratifying, honestly over the years we have developed a cult following. I knew that “Repo” was going to find its audience and will be kind of “Rocky Horror” phenomena. I didn’t think it would happen as quickly as it has. We had this $8.5 million dollar budget but Lionsgate only gave us $200,000 dollars for publicity, which is almost nothing. The film was almost buried from the start. I thought it would be like “Rocky Horror” where it would be years before we even make profit. We beat that already plus more. It is amazing that we have these 45 or more groups in the world who Shadowcast and act out the whole film. These groups know every nuance to the music and the story. Here we are less than a year and a half since the film was released. On a daily basis, I get emails and at least ten new people on Facebook every day asking me questions about the film.

MG: Would you ever consider bringing back it to the stage with all its new popularity?
DS: Yeah great question, absolutely! We would like to do it on a large scale and kind of leaving the options open. I actually want to do this as a permanent stage show in Las Vegas. It will be like Cirque De Solei meets Blue Man Group meets Deep Throat [laughs]. Just really push the envelope for what you can see in Vegas. I would also want to be able to tour with some live musicians from the soundtrack and have me perform with them along with some cast members and do a road tour.

MG: What other projects do you have in the works?
DS: First, we are working on sequel idea for “Repo” and we think we are definitely planning another movie. I am already working on the story and music with Terrance. The other things is I do have another rock opera that I have been writing. Without going into too much detail it is like the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” but in reverse. Rather than the protagonist realizing if they weren’t born things would be worse off. It is reverse and due to a series of bad decisions, it tells how the world would have been a better place without them being born. That is what I am working on right now.

Click here to purchase “Repo! The Genetic Opera”


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