Fun to read everyone’s early thoughts about COP OUT. Here are some of mine.
I dig COP OUT. It’s warm and funny and looks/plays like something I spent a great deal of my youth watching: a studio movie.
I view the flick this way: when Spielberg and Lucas made STAR WARS and RAIDERS, both were homaging the flicks of their youth – in their cases, the cliffhanger serials. Not implying COP OUT is remotely akin to the quality and ambition of SW or RAIDERS, but the ethos behind the making of this flick was borrowed from those guys: make that movie as an adult that I watched as a child. Tap into the movie buff that existed before I fell in love with Film. It was kinda like “Let’s make a movie for the fun of it.” (’cause Lord knows it wasn’t for profit.)
Anyway, I’m satisfied that I did what I set out to do. Whether people dig on what that is, exactly, is another matter altogether – and one, as guessed around this thread – that I’m not as invested in as I’ve been in the past. Even though there’s lots of me in the flick, I still have a sense of detachment from it – and not, as guessed, because I didn’t write the script. That sense of detachment has more to do with the fact that we all set out to make a piece of entertainment, not make a personal statement. This is the first round of press in which I assume we’ll talk more about the making of the flick than the flick itself – as there’s not much even the most imaginary cineaste is gonna be able to pull out it. I mean, it’s called COP OUT, not SCHINDLER’S COP OUT.
But for me? COP OUT (formerly A COUPLE OF DICKS) is – in ways I can’t clarify (as I don’t have the language for it yet) – a big step forward in my day job. Granted, not in that very-apparent CHASING AMY way, but it’s the start of something very different for me, inasmuch as the filmmaking thing goes. In the beginning, it was all very in-the-moment, now-or-never, fight-or-die. From this current vantage point – 15 years in, now fairly confident (subject to health) there’ll be a next 15? It’s calmer, not as desperate. The fight to be heard or to prove oneself is long over. There is enough work – different, original work – to qualify as a legacy. I know I’ll be remembered for what we accomplished in that 15 year span.
So if that’s the case, why not see what else I can accomplish? Be shitty to just rest on my laurels, as I’ve done for so long, without ever taking advantage of the opportunities to work on the craft of my craft; sometimes, the best way to do that is a change of venue. I know I can make a Kevin Smith film; I’ve been doing that since I started. But with DICKS, I wanted to see if I was any good at just making a movie. I’m certain there’ll be a contingent of folks saying I’ve failed (there always is, whether I fail or not), but as far as I’m concerned? I’m really happy with what I’ve done (especially under all the circumstances). In hockey parlance, if the question was ever “Sure, he was okay for the WHA, but can he make it in the NHL?” I now feel like I can lace-up with the best of ‘em. Granted, my game may not be as productive, and I may not play with as much finesse as some of the true stars of the game, but I now feel I can hold my own on the ice. And more importantly? Boy, do I have a lot of fun out there.
Naturally, folks are entitled to their opinion. Some cats will, no doubt, mega-type meta-critiques/manifestos, employing strong terms usually reserved for child killers; I’m too old to take them seriously anymore. But if you’ve got a true beef, I’d ask that you present it without the off-putting “YOU SOLD OUT!” sturm und drang. I’ll save you the time: I sold out the moment I sold my film to Miramax, back in January, 1994. If you don’t count that, then I quickly sold out to Universal to make MALLRATS two months later. Making DICKS/COP OUT was not selling out, as I got paid less to make DICKS than DOGMA (long story). This was, oddly enough, a labor of love (though it sometimes felt more like a labor of Hercules); passion for all the elements involved inspired this choice, and nothing but passion (and an amazingly supportive/nurturing crew, as well as a generous, committed cast) kept me going. I may not have written DICKS/COP OUT, but the heart I put into my game? You’d have thought I did. I mean, you don’t adopt a kid and ignore it; especially if you’ve ever been a parent before. It’s impossible. Instincts kick in. Same with cinema. It’s suddenly this goes here, that goes there. You know what’s best for this. Suddenly: a sense of authorship, even though I never wrote FADE IN (but, to be fair, I never write FADE IN).
This is where I am, nine flicks in: in order to keep it interesting for you, I gotta try some shit that’s now interesting to me. Otherwise, the haters will be right: I will keep making the same flicks, over and over. And nobody wants that (except with further CLERKS installments; never mind Apatow – I’m gonna Apted that shit).
Anyway, just some stoner thoughts on the subject at 4:20am. Hope y’all dig the flick.
This is the trailer. Trust me: the flick is much, much more than just this.