Sundance alum: Kevin Smith

Directors remember their first time

Sundance made my career. In 12 hours I went from being a guy who had a job at a convenience store to being a guy with a career. What was really funny about that is that everyone who could have distributed ‘Clerks’ had already seen it and passed. We went up there just to find out if it was really funny, to see what the reaction was when an audience finally saw the movie. Well, the audience liked it enough that Miramax decided to rethink their position. Sundance also invented the ‘director’s backstory.’ Every year there’s a different backstory that captures people’s imaginations and fuels the next generation of indie filmmakers. I was fueled by stuff like (Richard) Linklater’s ‘Slackers’ and (Robert) Townsend’s ‘Hollywood Shuffle.’ It’s the idea that the little guy has a chance. When people come up to me and say ‘Clerks’ made them want to be a filmmaker, I know what they’re saying is your movie looks so bad that if you can do that, then anyone can do that. The whole idea of the backstory came out of Sundance, and that idea has had a huge impact on indie film.”

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