In a person’s lifetime, they will stumble upon something that rocks their world entirely. Be it a song or film, the piece of art that changes their life has an innate ability to say the words that they can’t, and will forever be sentimental. For me, Clerks was the film that changed everything, and it has been my guilty pleasure ever since. Seeing a film that centered around two underachieving kids working at a convenience store was something that a number of people were able to relate with, and the film became an instant classic. It defied expectations, and is heralded as one of the greatest movies of the 1990s. Generation X needed something fresh, and Kevin Smith delivered.
Dante and Randal seemed like two guys we all knew from high school, and the conversations that the duo shared were eerily reminiscent on the ones that we’ve all had with our friends. Kevin Smith wasn’t afraid to have his characters talk about Star Wars, and you could tell that his real life experiences had a great effect on the dialogue that was written for the film. That’s what made Clerks so unique; it was almost like watching yourself behind the counter of the Quick Stop. Very few movies have ever captured my undivided attention quite like this one.
The low-budget classic changed the game, and seeing what went in to making that film and the success it achieved will truly leave you speechless. Kevin Smith was willing to do whatever he needed to achieve his dream, and the fact that he has maintained such a remarkable career is directly related to the making of Clerks. After reading this, I assure you that you’ll never look at this classic the same.
15. Smith Dropped Out Of Film School To Make Clerks
It’s well documented that some incredibly successful people throughout history decided to forgo their time in college in order to pursue their dreams. Smith is no exception to this, and the director would only spend a few months in film school before deciding to call it quits in order to make Clerks. It was an incredibly bold move by the young Smith, and it was one that completely changed his life. Personally, there is no way that I would have done what he did.
Now, I’m not condoning that people go out and do the same thing, and I’m sure that Kevin Smith would tell you the same. Yes, we should all go and pursue our dreams, but very few people have the same talent as Kevin Smith. This move could have completely backfired, so it’s worth noting that if you are going to pursue your dreams, ensure that you have a backup plan.
14. Smith Based Dante Off Of Himself
In keeping true to writing what he knew best, Smith looked to a familiar person for the inspiration and the basis for the character Dante; himself. At the time of making the film, Smith was in a very similar situation to Dante (I’ll touch on that in a bit), so it would only make sense that Smith would look within to find and develop the character. Dante would become someone that we would all love, and someone that genuinely seemed like a person you could talk comics and movies with.
If you’ve ever seen a Kevin Smith interview or listened to one of his podcasts, then you can clearly see how he developed Dante. After all, Smith is a comic book aficionado and film buff who seems like a truly genuine person. The fact that Dante was so relatable was because Smith took his own experiences and found a way to inject them into a character that we all knew from our own lives.
13. It Was Made For Less Than $30,000
One of the more apparent aspects of Clerks is the fact that it had an incredibly minuscule budget. Right now, Get Out is raking in intense amounts of money at the box office, and the film had a small budget of just $4 million. While the domestic gross of Clerks was nowhere near the haul of Get Out, the film’s earnings far superseded expectations, especially considering the small budget that Kevin Smith had to work with. It just goes to show you that quality work will always find an eager audience.
Eventually, Smith would garner larger budgets for his films, and their box office yields would grow substantially. However, nothing will make headlines quite like Clerks did all those years ago. Smith may not be a box office juggernaut, but his movies make a fair amount of money, and he has proven on numerous occasions that he doesn’t need a huge budget to make a quality film.
12. He Sold His Comic Collection To Raise The Money For The Film
As an avid comic book reader, this one really hits home for me. Smith was ready to take on his dream, but in order to do so, he would have to part ways with some of his most cherished belongings. Comic book collectors have an incredible attachment to the books that they so diligently sought out, so I’m sure that Smith was absolutely gutted when he realized that he would need to part ways with his collection. On top of selling his comics, Smith also maxed out a few credit cards, and even used some college money to help pay for Clerks.
All in all, I’d say that everything worked out just fine for Kevin Smith. Upon the film’s release, Smith’s directing career took off, and he made a pretty penny from the film. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Smith is now the proud owner of Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash; a comic book shop back in his native New Jersey. That’s right; he went from selling his entire collection to outright owning his own comic book shop.
11. Smith Was A Quick Stop Clerk While Filming The Movie
For those of us who have been stuck jockeying a register somewhere, we have all wished that our place of work was a little bit cooler. Most of the time, we were just bored out of our minds, and were patiently waiting for out shift to end. Well, for Kevin Smith, the Quick Stop was a lot cooler than most even realized. In order to truly capture the real life vibe of the film, Smith made the movie in the very store that he worked at. Suffice to say that the move totally paid off.
I never had anything that was remotely this awesome happen when I was peddling DVDs at Blockbuster Video, and seeing what Smith was able to do at his minimum wage job was fantastic. I’m quite confident that Smith’s real life experience provided the basis for Zack and Miri Make a Porno. In that movie, the lead characters use Zack’s job at a coffee shop as a set for a very special film.
10. The Majority Of The Movie Was Filmed At Night
Given the fact that Smith was still working at the Quick Stop meant that he had a very small window for filming each day. In order to facilitate the filming of Clerks, Smith was forced to film most of it at night. Thankfully, the script didn’t call for too many scenes to be outside during the day, so Smith was able to convince viewers that everything was happening accordingly. It’s a great example of Smith’s resourcefulness, and his willingness to do whatever it took to make the movie.
Needless to say, Smith’s crazy work and filming hours meant that he had very little time to rest. While filming Clerks, Smith got minimal sleep, but in the end, it was all worth it. Even after learning this fact, the movie still comes off as one that occurs throughout an entire day, which just goes to show you how talented Smith is.
9. The Original Ending Was Scrapped
Sometimes, it’s best to listen to the advice of other people instead of doing things your way. After learning what the original ending for Clerks was supposed to be, I am incredibly thankful that it was changed in the film’s final cut. As the story goes, in the original ending, Dante is supposed to be shot and killed in the Quick Stop. Yes, you read that correctly. Dante Hicks was supposed to die, and I’m sure that people would have berated Smith endlessly for the decision.
Had that ending stayed intact, it would have had major implications on what would inevitably become the View Askewniverse. Dante would end up appearing in several of Smith’s other films, including Clerks 2. What really boggles my mind is that Randal would have made it out unscathed. It’s kind of shocking considering that everyone practically hates him. Dante’s death in the original film would have changed everything, and probably not for the better.
8. Miramax Almost Didn’t Buy The Film
In order to carve a name for yourself in any of the arts, the first thing you need to do is impress the right person. Most people will tell you that true success sometimes comes with a stroke of luck, and that’s exactly what Smith got over 20 years ago. Initially, Harvey Weinstein didn’t care for the film. He had stopped watching it after less than 20 minutes, and that right there could have ended Smith’s dream. Luckily, when Clerks made its way to the Sundance Film Festival, Weinstein was convinced to sit through the film, and that moment changed everything for Smith.
It’s hard to believe that at one point, people wanted nothing to do with the movie. It’s not a conventional film by any means, and even threw me for a loop the first time that I watched it. Thank God Weinstein was convinced to give the film another chance. Had he not, there’s a good possibility that the world would have never seen Clerks, and a chance that Smith could have been stuck at Quick Stop even longer.
7. Clerks Was Awarded The Award Of The Youth At The Cannes Film Festival
Clerks took the festival circuit by storm back in the early 1990s, and by the time it made its way to the Cannes Film Festival, it was ready to bring home some impressive hardware. Now, it’s important to keep in mind that in 1994, a movie named Pulp Fiction was also making its rounds at festivals, so it’s easy to see why Clerks wasn’t taking home the top prizes. Pulp Fiction, much like Clerks, revolutionized filmmaking, but it also had a uniqueness that remains unparalleled to this day. Nevertheless, Clerks would go on to take home the Award of the Youth back in 1994.
The top prize at Cannes was awarded to Pulp Fiction that year, but critics heard Smith’s message loud and clear. He had dropped a classic, and the film industry has been taking notes on it ever since. Though Clerks won other awards that year, taking home hardware at Cannes is perhaps its biggest achievement.
6. Clerks Never Played At More Than 100 Theaters At Once
To me, this remains one of the more impressive facts surrounding Clerks. After the film was purchased by Miramax, it was eventually given a theatrical release. The film’s tiny budget and purchasing price meant that the company had very little to make back to ensure that they broke even. The main problem with this situation is that distribution costs needed to be kept low as well. So, while Clerks was making its way throughout America, it never reached more than 100 theaters at the same time.
It’s understandable that Miramax elected to do things this way. Clerks is a very unconventional film, and they may have been hesitant to give it a wide release. They kept it small, and it all worked out. Most major films are released to several thousand theaters at once, so it’s amazing to learn that this classic didn’t need a huge release to make a large impact.
5. The Film Grossed Over 3 Million Dollars While In Theaters
While I have spoken in hyperbole about the film’s box office performance, it’s time to establish what it actually made. During its limited theatrical release, Clerks would go on to make over 3 million dollars, far surpassing its budget and purchase price. The media couldn’t believe that the little indie movie about two guys slacking off at work had made such a good chunk of change. Given that Clerks never played at a large number of theaters at the same time makes it even more impressive.
By today’s standards, 3 million dollars seems like a joke. Even some of the worst movies that make their way to theaters clear far more than that. For the time, however, Clerks had accomplished far more than what anyone could have predicted. Imagine this type of movie trying to be released in today’s movie industry. I have a hard time believing that this feat could be duplicated.
4. Clerks: The TV Show
Hollywood’s knack for making a cash grab has been absolutely toxic throughout the years, and the quality of the product that’s produced often pales in comparison to the original. After the surprising success of Clerks, people in the industry were quick to capitalize, and perhaps the worst thing to come of it all was a television series based off of the beloved film. It goes without saying that the pilot episode for the series is terrible, and we should be thankful that it never made its way to households.
In order to get a feel for the pilot, you’d have to imagine Saved By The Bell and Clerks being fused together to make something that no one wanted. It’s almost hard to believe that this was considered to be aired on television. The pilot has made its way across the internet, so if you’re inclined to watch it, be prepared to be utterly disappointed.
3. Clerks: The Animated Series
Now, unlike the god-awful pilot for the cancelled television series, Clerks: The Animated Series was actually pretty good, though it only lasted for two episodes. The show was quickly taken off the air, but has since made its way to DVD. It’s completely different from the television series in every way possible. For starters, the actors from the film voiced their characters. The television series didn’t have Dante and Randal, and it suffered dearly because of it.
I’ve personally seen each episode of this series, and I loved it. It’s a shame that Clerks: The Animated Series never became a hit because I would love to see more episodes. The show has returned to television in the past for reruns to air, much to the delight of fans. I highly recommend that you give this series a watch. It had the potential to achieve so much more than it did.
2. Clerks: The Comics
Given his love for all things nerd and the fact that it was his comic collection that helped fund the film, it’s very fitting that Kevin Smith would develop a comic book series based on Clerks. Smith is no stranger to writing comic books, so you can only imagine how well his Clerks series was done. There are several different series of Clerks comics that Smith has penned, and I’m a pretty big fan of the work. The comics keep around characters that we’re familiar with, and does a good job in expanding their stories.
People looking to get their hands on some excellent Clerks stories need to look no further than what Smith did with these comics. They bring the same humor from the film, and they have garnered some pretty solid reviews. Much like the animated series, these comics are something that fans of the film should check out immediately.
1. Shooting Clerks
In order to truly understand the cultural impact and significance of Clerks, one would only need to take a look at the poster of Shooting Clerks; a biographical film that was based on the making of the iconic indie flick. Released in 2016, Shooting Clerks gives us an intimate look of the road that Kevin Smith traveled in order to make his dreams a reality. Smith even has an acting role in the movie. The man risked it all, and in the end, he came out on top.
Just by watching the trailer for the film, you can tell that the filmmakers genuinely have a love and appreciation for the source material. After all, they did include a re-imagining of a scene from Chasing Amy to deliver the footage to audiences. Smith rocked the world with his classic film, and the fact that a new generation of artists made a film about his film over 20 years later just shows you how amazing Clerks really is.