Director Kevin Smith as a Writer’s Role Model

My recent infatuation with the career and life of director and writer Kevin Smith began after I saw the 2014 horror/thriller, Tusk. The film, starring Justin Long and Michael Parks, is more of what I would consider a genre blending comedy horror. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

I always wait past the end credits to see any special inclusions directors like to sneak in. The end credits of Tusk included a recording of a SModcast in which the idea for the film was introduced. This started me on a journey into the writing and personality of Kevin Smith.

Prior to my obsession, I had seen most of his movies and never really considered the writing. However, Tusk and SModcast came into my life when I had begun looking at writing as a real career and a real passion for me. Kevin Smith’s films haven’t won Oscars and his writing isn’t as appreciated as it really should be, and he knows it. In fact, he makes fun of himself often on his podcast, SModcast, and the thing I admire the most, is that he never apologizes for his movies or his opinions.

I find people who own their writing, and what they say with it, very impressive. Writing is very personal – I equate it to slicing your wrists open and putting it on paper – and screenwriting is extremely difficult to keep entertaining script after script. Somehow, Smith has been able to do this repeatedly, regardless of the box office returns. This is why I think of him as my writing role model, someone who has inspired me to pursue my dream despite feeling like its “too hard”.

Now, I know a good amount of people think he’s a cool dude, who smokes weed all day and doesn’t really care what you think, but I actually don’t believe that. In fact, I think he does care, a great amount. Anyone who puts that much effort into a script must care for their work and that is what a true writer must do.

The Oscars’ Special Guest Star: A Conversation About Suicide

Watching the Academy Awards this past Sunday, I noticed that the word “suicide” was a lot more prevalent than in any awards telecast before it. We had Dana Perry, winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject for her film “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”, dedicate her award to her son, a suicide victim, and told us how we needed to talk about suicide out loud. Winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay award, Graham Moore, talked directly to those like him, who attempted suicide at age 16, and told them to “stay weird, stay different”. These people are the kinds of people affected by suicide. The saddest thing about the subject of suicide is the fact that it has always existed, it isn’t a new thing.

A little history about me, I attempted suicide at 22 and 23, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008. Since surviving my attempt, I’ve tried to make the people around aware that it is something that exists. Most people don’t believe that murderers will invade their home in the middle of the night, or that the brakes on their car will go out and cause a horrible pile-up. They also don’t believe that someone in their lives could feel so lost and alone that they would want to take their lives.

And this is why we do need to talk about suicide out loud. A key icon of the struggle of suicide, in modern times, is the late Robin Williams (it feels strange to say that, late) and as a child of the 90’s, I saw him in every comedy and thought the same thing that everyone thought, he’s happy. But I also didn’t see his personal struggles, probably similar to things that I experienced in my darkest times. Saddness, loneliness, and just a complete lack of a strong ego that most people have to prevent those dark, self-loathing thoughts from creeping up. People like to claim that suicide is for the weak and that it is selfish. And unfortunately, these are the stereotypes that survivors of suicide endure from those who choose not to understand or listen. It really takes a great amount of strength to hurt yourself and some times all that could pull you away from it is one person to say “I understand and I’m here for you”. However, the stigma of it and society’s constant pressure to keep it silent from our every day converstations make it easy for someone like Robin Williams to hide and put on a smiling face just because it makes everyone else feel better.

We all need to take responsibility for every suicide that happens in the world. That is not to say that we can prevent each one (my experiences as a bipolar sufferer have told me that if someone is determined to kill themselves, they will do anything to find a way) but our fear of just speaking about it makes it harder for people to find help. This is why I, as a survivor of suicide, appreciated every mention of the word suicide on Sunday night. Not only did we have someone who was very directly affected by the suicide of another, but we also had a suicide survivor. I truly hope that even after the post-Oscar glow disappears at the end of the week, people will still talk about Graham Moore’s call to the weird and Dana Perry’s heartbreaking dedication. I hope they talk about people they know who have attempted or committed suicide. I hope people will talk about their attempts or thoughts. I hope people will talk, and I hope soon we can all sit down and, at least once, talk about suicide seriously.