You would hardly think that Red Bank, New Jersey, would be ground zero for a burgeoning indie film operation.But there is a talented guy who makes his home in this quaint little town just south of the Big Apple. His name is Kevin Smith. He makes movies. And if Clerks is any indication, he has a bright future ahead of him.
Clerks was shot in black and white over the course of a couple of days at a tiny independent convenience store in the nearby town of Leonardo. Kevin shot the picture himself and got his friends to help out with acting and production. Total budget: less than $30,000.
And the film hardly looks cheap. The story is basically a day in the life of hapless Dante (Brian O'Halloran) as he pulls a double-shift duty at the Quick Stop to fill in for an indisposed co-worker. His friend Randal (Jeff Anderson) helms the hole-in-the-wall video store next door. Equal parts intellectual, cynic, and obnoxious punk, Randal always has some wry advice or criticism for his pensive neighbor merchant. And when Dante's not caught up in a love triangle between Veronica (Marilyn Ghigiliotti) and Caitlin (Lisa Spoonauer), he's battling the local health code, the anti-tobacco crusaders, a dirty old man who claims he reads Penthouse for the dirty jokes (and could he take the latest issue into the restroom with him?), and deliquent loiterers out front.
This film was threatened with an NC-17 rating only because of its dialogue, which gets pretty racy in much of the film. Without giving too much away, I can safely say the number 37 should gain some notoriety among Clerks fans, just like the number 69. But, rest assured, there are many discussions on subjects other than sex (including a thought-provoking diatribe concerning the Death Star from Star Wars).
The only stars here are the bands that contributed to the soundtrack. The acting here is authentically done, since for the most part these are basically Jersey kids just hanging out, talking about the usual. Among these kids, Jason Mewes, as one of the aforementioned delinquent loiterers, is a talent to watch for in the future. He brings an energetic and off-the-wall performance to his relatively minor role.
You know, the film industry first flourished in New York City before establishing itself in Hollywood. With Clerks, Kevin Smith has turned some attention back to the East Coast. Hopefully from here the films will keep getting better.All from a minuscule office in a small Jersey town.