Scots filmmakers are shooting stars with tribute to cult movie Clerks

A scene from Clerks, the 1994 comedy which inspired Brett Murray to film a similarly low-budget tribute. Picture: View Askew/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
A scene from Clerks, the 1994 comedy which inspired Brett Murray to film a similarly low-budget tribute. Picture: View Askew/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
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With its acerbic humour and offbeat study of friendship in a small town, it proved an unlikely hit which inspired a generation of indie auteurs.

Now, a group of Scots filmmakers are enjoying critical acclaim after creating their own movie charting the genesis of Kevin Smith’s acclaimed comedy Clerks.

Producer Brett Murray is to take Shooting Clerks' on tour across the US.

Producer Brett Murray is to take Shooting Clerks' on tour across the US.

Billed as part biopic, part comedy, Shooting Clerks includes an appearance from Smith himself, as well as a host of actors from the original film.

Much like their idol, the team behind the film – led by director Christopher Downie and producer Brett Murray – were forced to work to a shoestring budget.

Although Clerks was filmed in Smith’s native New Jersey, Downie and Murray shot their tribute in libraries, coffee shops and theatres in Dundee, and even recreated the US convenience store and video rental shop where much of Clerks is set in the living-room of Downie’s home in the Fife village of Balmullo.

After filming on and off for the past four years, the two hour-long film is in the final stages of post-production, and has already scooped a clutch of awards, including best film at the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival and the audience award at the Monmouth Film Festival.

“It’s great to be recognised not only by the fan community and other filmmakers, but by the people who actually made Clerks,” Murray said. “We have been welcomed into their circle, and by Kevin himself. It’s been a case of art imitating life and life imitating art.”

Released in 1994, Clerks was written and directed by Smith, and filmed in the store where he worked. He was forced to max out several credit cards to complete it, but upon its release, the sharp paean to pop culture proved a critical triumph, winning awards at Cannes and Sundance and packing out cinemas.

In Murray’s opinion, part of its enduring appeal is the way its themes remain relevant today.

Clerks was a unique and realistic depiction of Generation X being stuck in dead-end jobs and being frustrated, and that’s the same for Generation Y,” he added. “It’s a movie about the complacency of having no prospects, but also a sense of defiance.”

Downie and Murray, who formed the production company Auld Reekie Media, are preparing for a screening of the film at Thurso’s Mill Theatre next month, before heading to California. They also hope to release the film online later this year, as well as making DVD and Blu-Ray copies available to buy.

Clerks means a lot to people over the world,” said Murray. “It’s pretty amazing after nearly 25 years.”