Kevin Smith is often almost a motivational speaker in his books, speeches and stand up, in which he talks about his unconventional rise to fame.
By Justin Van Voorhis
Published Jan 03, 2021
Writer-Director Kevin Smith is an inspiration to dreamers.?In 1993,?armed only with a dream and a little bit of money, he made the film Clerks, using just the convenience store he worked at. The movie premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival and the rest is history. He went on to make many more cult films, like Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma,?and even found a new life as a storyteller/standup and podcaster.
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In his book, “Tough Sh*t,” he expounds upon what he’s learned about achieving dreams and what he believes a person needs to do to achieve them.?During interviews or his standup shows, Kevin often verges on being a motivational speaker, telling stories from his life and?encouraging others to pack this life with as much fun and productivity as possible.
”Remember: it costs nothing to encourage an artist, and the potential benefits are staggering. A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film, or the cartoon you love to get stoned watching, or the song that saves your life. Discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.”
In the above-mentioned book, Kevin essentially warns that discouraging an artist could result in them giving up too soon before reaching their potential, robbing the world of great future work. Encouraging them will give them that needed boost to work harder and ultimately make great art that everyone can benefit from.
”You’ve gotta believe for everybody else, too – until you can show them proof.?If you’re lucky, someone starts believing with you. And two people believing are the start of a congregation. You build a congregation of believers and eventually, you set out to craft a chapel. Folks who don’t build churches will try to tell you how you’re doing it wrong, even as your steeple breaks the clouds. Never listen.”
Essentially, in his book, Kevin advises people to never listen to those who don’t support even the attempt at achieving the dream from those who aren’t doing it themselves. Those who criticize know where they’re going but don’t know how to get there themselves, so they’ll criticize those who do.
One of Smith’s best tweets is truly inspirational: “Failure is success training. Nobody gets it right on the first try. I know that sounds like a cat poster but it’s true.”
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It doesn’t matter if something doesn’t work out, it’s important to use?failure to learn what needs to improve?the next attempt. Failure helps increase knowledge and skills and produces stronger follow-up attempts that make the odds of a victory even greater.
”What was the alternative? Create. What choice do we have? Telling your story is better than not.” This quote from Smith’s book also touches on the topic of failure. Failure?often makes dreamers think they should give up, but in the face of it, they need to ask themselves, what were they going to do if they weren’t trying to achieve what they really wanted?
Were they going to live with the dream and not pursue it with everything that they could? Because, if left unfulfilled, a dream could eat at one like a cancer.
In a speech that he made in Bryant Park, NYC, Smith said: “We all look right at the front door and go ‘how do we get through? There’s a massive line.’ Go to the back door, go to the side window, f**king dynamite a hole in the window. You belong in the room too.”
In other words, those who wish to break into any industry in life tend to think there is only one way to do so, and when it doesn’t work out, often it feels like a failure and that all hope is lost. However, Kevin suggests that?if the first door doesn’t work, don’t let that be the end of the dream.?Get in by being creative and find whatever path necessary to break in.
At the 2015 Produced By conference, Kevin Smith offered some great words of advice:?”Your voice is your only currency in life, the things you see and perceive, the prism through which you?process all the information you take in – you’re unique from everybody else. That perspective is insanely valuable because no one can give it but you.”
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Sometimes, a person may think they don’t have what it takes because they’re different from everything they see. But it’s that uniqueness that is exactly what makes a person’s art valuable because it’s coming from a place no one has seen before. And that perspective might prove valuable to someone who shares a similar?view but can’t, and who, up to that point, hasn’t?been represented.
In another quote from his book, Smith said: “You expect a bunch of people out there to believe you are this thing unless you be this thing yourself. You don’t have to wait to be invited into something.”
People tend to not believe in?artists?who don’t believe in themselves. Smith is essentially saying: don’t ask anyone for permission to achieve a dream because it may never come. He emphasizes that the best way for an artist to get an opportunity is to make it themselves.
”I didn’t have skill, but what I had was will, and “will” will take you a lot farther than skill in some cases,”?Kevin said at the same 2015 Produced By conference.
Sometimes the people who succeed are not always the most talented but those who wanted it the most. Kevin?admits?he’s not the most talented guy, but he wanted it really bad and he made it, and over time he improved his craft because he had such a big drive. While having skill is important, it’s will that helps sustain that dream through the hardships of trying to achieve it.
”If you wait long enough, everything you hope will happen, will happen. It just requires patience. It doesn’t require money. It requires patience and longevity. If you wait long enough in life, patience and longevity will absolutely deliver it to you.”
In his book, Smith explains that sometimes uncertainty over a long period of time causes a person to waver on their dreams. However, only by sticking with it can it come true. Not doing anything about a dream will never make it come true. Sometimes it doesn’t come true exactly how it was pictured, but working hard on something over a long period is rewarded. There is never a specific time when it will happen, but give up before it does, and it won’t.
”In the face of such hopelessness as our eventual, unavoidable death, there is little sense in not at least trying to accomplish all of your wildest dreams in life.”
Kevin stresses in his book that it’s better to try to live a “why not” life rather than live with the regret of not trying. Life is short and while living, there is no reason not to at least attempt to live the life one dreams of, so that when death comes, it’s fulfillment and not regret that fills our hearts.
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About The Author
Justin Van Voorhis
(106 Articles Published)
Justin Van Voorhis is an actor/writer/filmmaker. He’s the creator of the award-winning feature film “Slate Yourself,” which currently streams on Amazon Prime. In addition to being a contributor to Screen Rant, he also contributes to The Take and co-hosts the Dissident Film Club podcast. He portrayed 40-year-old Warren Buffett in “Becoming Warren Buffett” on HBO, and sits in front of Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker.”
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