October 31, 2008 / 8:11 AM / 10 years ago

Just A Minute With: Kevin Smith on "Zack and Miri"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Writer and director Kevin Smith cast a comedian’s eye at amateur pornography in his movie “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” which opens on Friday.

Kevin Smith, director and writer of the movie "Zack and Miri Make a Porno", poses in Los Angeles October 19, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

It is the eighth feature film directed by Smith, and stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks as platonic friends who act in a pornographic film to earn some cash fast.

Smith, 38, started his career with 1994’s “Clerks,” a black-and-white film about two young men frustrated with their lives as store clerks. Since then, he has enjoyed the support of a passionate fan base that he cultivates with online blog posts and marathon speaking engagements.

He spoke to Reuters about American’s attitudes toward sex, his own feelings about porn and his low-budget approach to filmmaking.

Q: A lot of people have problems with pornography because they see it as something addictive and/or corruptive. What do you think about porno?

A: “Porno doesn’t put me off. Porno doesn’t make me run in an opposite direction. I don’t feel filthy about watching it. I don’t feel filthy talking about it. It exists. I didn’t create porno. If I was the guy who created porno, fine maybe I’d be like, ‘Perhaps I’m wrong.’”

Q: Do you think the United States would ever change in ways that people would be more comfortable with sex than violence on screen?

A: “I don’t think we’ll ever get to that place in this country where they’re more comfortable with sex, talking about sex, putting it out in the open. Strange though, because this summer ‘Sex and The City’ was in theaters. I didn’t hear ... about people objecting to that title. It’s got the word sex in it. ‘Porno,’ for some reason, seems to be the final frontier.”

Q: You write comic books. You wrote for Daredevil and Batman, and you work on “Degrassi Junior High,” the Canadian show. Do you ever feel like you’re spreading yourself thin?

A: “Thin is not a part of my lexicon, in any way, shape or form, particularly physically. I’m used to living fat, so I try to do that professionally as well. My feeling is like, once you’ve got your foot in the door, man, do the things that you love. Some people kind of get in this business to find acclaim or to win an Oscar or to make a ... ton of money. Me, I got in the business because I just want to tell stories, I’m not good at anything else.”

Q: How is making a movie now different from when you made “Clerks” on about $27,000 at the store where you worked?

A: “It just means that everyone gets paid. On ‘Clerks’ nobody got paid, and we did it for nothing. Everyone was doing it for the love and what not. On this movie everybody gets their salary. ... You get to shoot comfortably, five-day weeks as opposed to like “Clerks” we shot 21 days straight, no days off. And we also shot that movie at night when the place was closed. That’s the only time we could do it.”

Q: You’ve always worked with relatively low budgets. Do you ever see yourself doing a big budget movie?

A: “I think I’ve just reached the point that, after 15 years of being a filmmaker, I’m just now comfortable with it. Like, OK if it requires (a big budget) I’m going to make this movie — not next. Next I want to make this movie ‘Red State’ which is $5 million — but after that I want to make this comedy set in space. The moment you see a ... rocket ship or another planet, the budget is going up. I can’t shoot that at the convenience store.”

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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