Film to tell story of the making of Clerks

A scene from the film Clerks

A scene from the film Clerks

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IT was a hit film made on a shoestring budget which made stars of its cast and crew and inspired a generation of indie auteurs.

Now, the Hollywood director who shot to fame with the comedy, Clerks, is to team up with young Scottish filmmakers and actors to help tell the story of how the movie was made.

Kevin Smith, a counterculture icon for a string of sharp-witted comedies such as Chasing Amy, Mallrats and Dogma, has given a ringing endorsement to the film, promising to take an acting role in the feature length film.

The biopic-cum-documentary, entitled Shooting Clerks, will recreate sets from the original film, with shooting taking place in Dundee. As well as Smith, its makers have already recruited several cast members from the lauded black and white feature.

The unlikely film is the brainchild of Christopher Downie, a freelance director and University of Abertay graduate who currently makes short videos for Smith’s YouTube channel.

An avid fan of the New Jersey born director, writer, and author, whose other films include Zack and Miri Make a Porno, he said the notion of telling how Smith debut’s came together had long represented a “dream” idea.

Now, he and his co-producers have launched an online funding drive to bring the project to fruition. With over a fortnight to go before donations close, they have already attracted thousands of pounds from members of Smith’s large fanbase.

Downie, who runs the Dundee-based production company, Auld Reekie Media, first saw the film aged 13 and has been a fan ever since.

He explained: “I saw it as something MTV would make then screen on their network. Of course, they’ve gone onto make their own movies since but it’s true what film consultant Bob Hawk said about Clerks, that is was ‘the filmic equivalent of a garage band’.

“With Shooting Clerks, we just want to take all of the emotion, all of the humour and the stress that everyone who was involved with Clerks experienced and have you go through it too.”

Story

Released in 1994, Smith’s film chronicled a turbulent day in the life of convenience store clerk, Dante Hicks, and his abrasive friend, Randal Graves, who works in the adjoining video rental shop.

Written and directed by Smith, the film was filmed largely in the shop where he worked at the time. Shot in 21 days, Smith was forced to sell his comic book collection and max out several credit cards to complete it.

Upon its release, the film won critical acclaim winning awards at both Cannes and Sundance, as well as packing out cinemas. Made for just £16,500, the film eventually grossed over £1.8m.

After Smith learned of the plan by Downie and his co-producers, Brett Murray - a fellow Abertay graduate - and Felix Kay, to make the biopic, he got in touch to take up an acting role as a Hollywood executive who bought the rights to the film.

In a video message posted on the film’s page on crowdfunding site, IndieGoGo, the director made clear he would love to see the biopic completed.

He said: “I fully endorse Auld Reekie’s IndieGoGo campaign to raise the budget for Shooting Clerks, man, I think it’s a very creative project and I also want to see what I would look like portrayed by a young actor who’s thinner than I was when I made the actual movie.

“I’ve got my mother’s childbearing hips so it’d be really nice to see a kid playing the young Kevin Smith without childbearing hips, or I suggest they pad his thighs up like a football player.

He added: “But give generously, I know I’m gonna. I want to see this movie, and I lived it.”

After receiving the message, Downie was bowled over, and is hoping Smith will even narrate the film. “There aren’t words to describe how happy and honoured we were to receive his blessing and have him agree to star,” he added.

The film’s cast will include other actors from Clerks, such as Scott Schiaffo, who played a representative from the Chewlies Gum firm visiting the convenience store, Ernie O’Donnell, who played Rick Derris, and Betsy Broussard, a customer of Randal’s.

A host of young Scottish talent will complete the line up, including Mark Frost as Smith and Chris Bain as Jason Mewes, the actor who portrayed Jay.

With a release date pencilled in for 2015, it is hoped interiors shooting will begin later this year, once sets have been built to resemble the Quick Stop and RST Video locations featured in Clerks. Most of the exterior scenes will be shot in Smith’s native New Jersey, as well as Vancouver and Utah.

People wishing to help finance the film can visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-kevin-smith-biopic-shooting-clerks. Depending on the amount, donors can receive memorabilia signed by Smith and even a role in the film.

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