Dear Kevin,

Greetings from Minnesota, Mr. Smith... umm, no. Greetings from Minnesota, Kevin. I normally try to be somewhat formal with these Open Letters, but it just doesn't feel right here, and it also sounds like I'm addressing a Frank Capra character. This is perhaps a landmark Open Letter column, because in its short history, this letter will probably be the only letter that will likely be read by the person it was intended for. That fact alone is extremely gratifying, for someone like me who writes about movies/DVD's/film news every week, and is just happy to NOT get emails condemning my work. But I'm writing this letter because of your work, not just as a filmmaker, but for your work to show that the fans really do matter.

I first entered the world of View Askew back in 1995, in a friends dorm room, some 4 years before my passion for movies was fully realized. A few friends had gathered because they heard about this f*&%ed up little black-and-white movie that we all just had to see. 92 minutes later, we all had our favorite new flick in Clerks and the rest, of course, is history. All of your films are in my DVD collection and your flicks are movies that I know I can pop in at any time, during any mood, drunk or sober, and just thoroughly enjoy. That's hard to say about a lot of movies. You can't just pop in Citizen Kane or Capote with your friends and a case of beer, now, can you? I could go on and on about your movies, how their great for nearly any occasion, tremendously written and directed and all that crap, but I know you get that all the time. That's the coolest thing about you: that I actually know you get that all the time.

I am one of your 81,102 (as of 3:20 p.m. on August 1) MySpace friends. I honestly wasn't sure I would be one, though, because about a week or so had gone by without your approval. I thought that you might have just seen on my profile that I was a critic/columnist for a movie website and just reached for the Deny button. After all, during that week, the week before your amazingly funny and surprisingly poignant Clerks II was released, you were having a few problems with some critics, one with a humorous moustache... And then the day Clerks II bowed, you issued an apology to the 6000 friends that were waiting for approval, and assured us that we'd be added soon. Sure enough, I was added later that day. I was just astounded. I wasn't astounded that you had 6000 friends waiting for approval; I was astounded that, on the day your movie opened, nonetheless, you were there for your fans. I don't know any directors personally, but if they're online at all the day their movie opens, it's probably on Rotten Tomatoes, poring over the reviews of their films, either worried or elated. If they had 6,000 fans waiting for approval on their MySpace, if they had a MySpace, they'd probably wait until after their vacation in Djakarta before getting around to their fans. That's what's so great about you, Kevin. You don't just say "I love my fans" during press junkets, premieres and award shows, you say it to us all the time, and you back it up by being the most accessible filmmaker perhaps in the history of cinema... even before MySpace was the cock of the Internet walk. Oh yeah, I was on the View Askew message boards too. Snoogins.

When you think about it, Hollywood is a lot like a high school. Popularity rules, the weak are crushed, and everybody has to have the hot new whatever. I suppose the lunch is better in Hollywood, but I digress. My gist is that while studios are perpetually looking for the new, hot, popular thing to latch on to, you just keep on making the films you want to make, even though none of your movies have made more than $30 million. It saddens me just to type that, actually. I've heard that just getting a movie made and released in a big fat theater is a small miracle in and of itself. Some people might think that your ability to work in this business for 12 years, doing it your way while not earning any flashy grosses, is a miracle as well. But I, and those 81,101 other friends and countless other fans know it's not a miracle at all. You work as a filmmaker not because you subscribe to the popular trends, but because you embrace your own popularity in full, and not just when everyone else is watching. You know that there is an army of people that will likely find humor in whatever you find humor in. You connect with your fans, answering questions, posting fan-made videos and sharing things with us that most non-celebrities wouldn't share with anyone. We know you, Kevin, and you know us too, and for that sort of community to exist anywhere within the high-walled realm of celebrity and/or cinema is just tremendously cool. Thank you, Kevin Smith, for all of your remarkable films and for embracing the "little people" that enable you to do that Jersey thing that you do so f&#%in' well.

Sincerely,

Brian Gallagher

P.S. I couldn't even find the words to review Clerks II, that's how much I f&#%in' loved it! It was an absolute joy to watch and a perfect ending to the whole series. Congrats on an amazing film!

Cinemark Movie Club