Kevin Smith To Sell Red State Via Public Auction

By Josh Tyler 2011-01-21 13:47:28discussion comments
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While many seem to disagree with director Kevin Smith’s somewhat baffling recent stance on things like the media and film criticism, you have to give the guy at least a little credit: Those views have resulted in a genuine attempt at industry innovation. Fed up with the Hollywood system of production and promotion Smith has cast all of it aside for his new movie, Red State, which he funded independently and plans to promote independently as well, using his series of wildly popular podcasts to raise awareness.

Red State makes its debut in Park City at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend and, Kevin plans to keep right on thinking outside the box with his movie. He long ago announced that, unlike every other film being screened at the festival, Red State will not hold screenings for either press or industry attendees. Those screenings are normally particularly critical for a movie like Red State since the film doesn’t have a distributor and, normally, the only reason a filmmaker like Smith brings his movie to Sundance is in the hopes of finding someone to buy it.

Even though he doesn’t plan to hold a screening for the distributors who might buy his film, Kevin does want to sell it and Variety has a line on how he plans to pull it off. Here’s the answer: Public auction. Immediately following the film’s first public screening on Monday a public auction will be held right in front of the mostly fan-filled crowd in which attendees will be allowed to bid against each other for the rights to distribute Red State. Smith has in the past stated that he hopes for a $6 to $8 million sale. That seems like a rather dicey proposition, it’s hard to imagine studio execs willing to commit millions of dollars by waving their hands at a director in front of a live studio audience, but it has the advantage of having never been tried.

As someone who really wants to see Red State but will only get to see it if the film gets wide enough distribution, it's nice to know that Smith might have a back-up plan. Variety speculates that he may be ready to self-distribute if the auction doesn't work. However if you’re a regular listener to Kevin’s podcasts, as I am, you know that he’s always been adamant about wanting to sell the movie to a distributor. Yet, at the same time his conversations frequently do seem to revolve around the notion of self-distribution through DVD and other formats which skip the theatrical model entirely. For now Kevin has yet to confirm this bit of speculation, and since he’s currently trudging through the snow in Park City, is unlikely to do so until the big hubbub of Sunday is over.

It’s all part of the sideshow like atmosphere which has begun to spring up around the movie’s Sundance debut. The film is loosely based on the infamous Westboro Baptist Church and its founder Fred Phelps, and they’re planning a protest out front, which will already make things pretty crazy. Smith has been arguing with Phelps daughter Megan this week on Twitter. Meanwhile The Harvey Boys (a name used by Kevin Smith and his producer John Gordon, who will run the auction) have also been attempting to rally together fans in order to stage counter-protests in which they’ll shout and wave around silly, comedic slogans protesting irrelevant things as a way of satirizing what the Westboro group plans to do.

Bottom line: For better or worse this will be a Sundance screening unlike any other ever held in the history of Park City. Our own Katey Rich will be at the screening on Sunday, expect a full report from her shortly afterward.
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