15 Now You Know Facts About The Clerks Franchise
Clerks 3 is finally upon us and what better way to celebrate than taking a walk down memory lane with one of the most popular DIY films ever made and its descendants. Here are 15 facts about the Clerks franchise.
The Clerks 3 Storyline Is Autobiographical
The new film focuses on Randall suffering from a heart attack, reflecting how Kevin Smith also suffered a serious heart attack in 2018. While the heart attack convinced Smith to get healthier, Randall’s cardiac event inspires him to finally do something with his life and make his OWN movie. About Clerks! Sound familiar?
Why Clerks 3 Took So Long
While pandemics and quarantines did not help with the delay of the film, another event also nearly shut down the Clerks franchise for good. Jeff Anderson (Randall) flat out refused to return for a third installment of the film, with Kevin Smith explaining, “One of the four main characters did not want to be involved. It quickly spiraled out of control in a big, bad way, and wound up not happening and probably could never happen after the stream of events that hit a wall, and sometimes that's a wall you can't get over.” But eventually, Anderson ran into Smith at a signing and was surprised Smith would even talk to him after he was such a pain a few years before. Smith said, “You weren’t getting paid enough and that was my fault.” The two made up and now Clerks 3 is finally upon us.
Kevin Smith’s Fundraising Tactics
Kevin Smith was only able to make Clerks by opening up 10 credit cards, selling his entire comic book collection, and working at the Quick Stop and RST video. He scraped together $27,575 to make the first film. This is always a good idea and I recommend you try the same tactic!
It Was Originally NC-17
After appearing at Sundance in 1994, the film was picked up by Miramax. where it initially received an NC-17 rating for language. Miramax hired Alan Dershowitz of OJ Simpson Defense Team fame to appeal the rating. The rating was successfully appealed without any cuts, but is that really any surprise? Probably one of the easier days at the office for Dershowitz.
The Disaster That Helped Fund The Film
Kevin Smith told the story on Facebook of how in 1992, a flood overtook his New Jersey town. Smith explained how he and Jason Mewes had just bought Volkswagens, and that the night of the storm Mewes called Smith asking if they should move their cars uptown. Smith said, “They’re safe in my driveway because it never floods here, and they’re Volkswagens, so I think they’re like waterproof or something.” Smith explained further, “My Mother woke me that morning barking ‘If you wanna save your comic books and laser discs, get out of that bed right now! You've already lost your CARS!’ After losing his home and his car, he realized he would have to cancel shooting Clerks, which was supposed to start the following week. He and Mewes appealed the cars for reimbursement with FEMA and ended up getting ten times back what they paid for the cars, $4,000. Smith used half of that money on Clerks and went “carless” for a while he said.
Kevin Smith Worked All Day And Night…Literally
While filming the movie, Kevin Smith would work an entire day's shift at the Quick Stop, then film in the store overnight with his boss's permission. They would film until morning, which is when Smith would rearrange the store back to its original state, and grab a quick nap in his car before he would start the whole process over again. It’s the reason the window shutters are closed the whole movie so the audience couldn’t tell it was dark out.
The Real Reason The First Film Is In Black And White
Kevin Smith revealed On The Late Show With Steven Colbert that the only reason the film is in black and white is because it was cheaper than color film. He said everyone assumed it was a creative choice so he just went with it. He even mentioned how one reviewer early on said it was as if the film was shot from the perspective of a security camera, so Smith decided to start saying that was the reason.
The Soundtrack Cost More Than The Film
The film got its iconic rock soundtrack once Miramax agreed to pick it up at Sundance. The music cost for the film ended up costing $230,000 dollars and featured bands like Alice in Chains and SuperNova. That's about eight times more money than the movie cost to make.
A Step Up In Production Value
The second film, Clerks 2, had a budget over 150 times larger than its predecessor. At 5 million dollars, it was a significant step up from its original 27 thousand dollar budget. Most of the cost assumedly went to painting the previously black and white cast into full color.
Jay and Silent Bob Solved A Mystery Brought Up In Clerks
At the end of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, the titular characters come across their old friend Dante opening up the Quick Stop store. Jay says to Millie, "Oh, you see that guy over there? For twenty-five years we've been coming here every night and putting gum in the locks." This little snippet explains why the shutters for the Quick Stop are always jammed shut.
The Cat Preparation
According to the DVD Commentary, the cat that jumps onto the counter was prepped in advance to make sure it would cooperate. Smith admitted that the owner hid the cat's litter box for a while before filming, hoping it would make the cat eagerly hurry toward it once the cameras were rolling. The plan worked perfectly, but Smith did say that it kept the film from getting the “no animals were harmed” seal from the Humane Society.
Jason Mewes Was Terrified of Acting
Jason Mewes explained on the Jay And Silent Bob Get Old podcast that he was initially terrified of performing on camera, despite the character being largely based on himself. When I got on camera, man, I just froze and needed everyone out of there." Mewes said the set used to be cleared out for his scenes from everyone aside from Smith. Jay was having so much trouble with his lines around convincing Dante to salvage his relationship, so Smith read them instead, leading to the idea that Silent Bob only speaks up when he has something important to say.
The Movie Premiered To No One
On the Clerks X DVD, Kevin Smith spoke about the premiere of the film which took place at NYC's Angelika Film Center at the Independence Feature Film Market. Smith said he was crestfallen when he looked into the audience and realized it was really only cast and crew. However, one big name was also in attendance. Bob Hawk of the Sundance Film Festival saw Smith’s flick and recommended it to his peers, securing its spot in the next Sundance.
It’s Been Deemed To Have Massive Cultural Significance
In 2019, Clerks was added to the ‘Library Of Congress’ National Film Registry which is reserved for films of cultural significance. Because the first thing you think of when you watch Clerks is, “500 years from now, people must know this film.”
There Was An Animated Clerks Show
The original follow-up to Clerks was an animated series released in 2000, entitled, Clerks: The Animated Series, (they really hit the nail on the head with that title). The show was produced with all the original cast returning to perform the voices of their characters and continued the stories of Dante and Randall. The show produced six episodes but was cut from ABC after only two episodes aired. Guess it only took the gang another 6 years to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make Clerks 2.
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Top Image: Lionsgate