View Askew is a film production company fronted by and most well known for the work of Kevin Smith
. They were founded in 1993
during the production of their first film Clerks
and the first time it was ever officially used was on business cards Kevin had printed that said "View Askew - We'll Put Anything In Our Mouths...Just Kidding We Make Movies"
. Through View Askew, Kevin has made six (soon going on seven) movies:
The 1994 smash success which details the day in the life of two convenience store clerks won the Mercedes-Benz Award and the Award of the Youth at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival not to mention winning the Filmmakers Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival and nabbing three Independent Spirit Awards nominations. The movie was made after Kevin dropped out of Vancouver Film School and linked up with his best friend he met there, Scott Mosier. They made the film while working at the Quick Stop Convenience in Leonardo, New Jersey in 1993. It was made for $27,000 and once released by Miramax made its budget one hundred and sixteen times.
"Mallrats" was another day in the life tale of two guys who find solace in the mall after their girls break up with them. It was released in 1995 and although declared a box office failure after only managing to make slightly over a third of it's budget, has since made up with it's cult following on DVD and VHS. Also introduced View Askew to Ben Affleck and Jason Lee, who Kevin has used in each and every film he's made since.
Even after the "Mallrats" fiasco, Miramax trusted Kevin Smith and gave him a quarter of a million dollars to make a love story he had written about a straight man falling for a gay woman. The movie made forty eight times what it cost at the box office and won Jason Lee the Best Supporting Actor trophy at the Independent Spirit Awards, for which he beat out Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Smith won Best Screenplay. Joey Lauren Adams also was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical at the Golden Globes, which is the closest View Askew has ever come to winning one of the "major awards" (Oscars, Golden Globes) for their work.
"Dogma" was actually written before "Clerks", yet Kevin waited until he had the proper special effects to do the film. It was met with controversy after the Catholic League protested against the film and printed a booklet on how the film was anti-Catholic. Yet the film, about two renegade angels trying to get back into heaven and thus, end all existence, did quite well for itself upon its 1999 release. It's 30.6 million dollar gross is still View Askew's finest to date, it was on tons of critic's top 10 lists and was nominated for Best Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards that year.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
With a 22 million dollar budget, this may have been the most expensive inside joke of a movie ever created. “Strike Back” was basically an all-star View Askew film starring the two things that had been consistent about the movies, the characters of Jay and Silent Bob. The film was a clever exercise in excess, the usual Kevin Smith in-jokes and fantastic vulgarity ("fuck" and various forms of the word are said 228 times). The film had a monstrous opening (by View Askew standards) with its 11 million dollar opening in 2001 and ended with a little over 30 million dollars.
"Jersey Girl" was the first non-"View Askewniverse" film in Kevin Smith's intricately connected trilogy (that's not even a trilogy anymore yet referred to as one). The film was based upon Smith's experiences as a father with his daughter Harley Quinn Smith. The film was met with extreme critical response earlier in 2004, with some loving it, some hating it. It made 25 million against a 35 million budget, which Kevin states isn't a flop, more just "a film not living up to its expectations." Yet with Star Wars and comic book references, plus a hilarious cameo featuring Jason Lee, "Jersey Girl" doesn't fall too far from Kevin's filmmaking tree.
Yep. Randal & Dante back at work. Coming August 2006.
View Askew Productions has also produced other feature length films by directors and writers other than Kevin Smith. Frequently the money for these projects comes right out of Kevin's pocket just so his friends can live his now realized dream of being a supported filmmaker.
”Drawing Flies” is A grainy 16mm black & white film about a man and his roommates searching for Sasquatch in Canada. Was known as the "lost View Askew" film until its 2002 release on DVD. It had only been shown at small film festivals prior to that release. It was co-directed by Matthew Gissing and Malcolm Ingram. They also made the film Tail Lights Fade and Ingram is credited as "Mewes Rangler" in the Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back credits. It stars Askew legend Jason Lee, Jason's wife Carmen Lee, as well as some other View Askew notables Joey Lauren Adams, Ethan Suplee, Renée Humphrey and Scott Mosier. Jason Mewes appears as Jay, yet there is controversy over if Kevin Smith's cameo is Silent Bob or not. He is dressed like Silent Bob, yet Jay calls him “John” and he is credited as Himself.
A Better Place:
Perhaps the most dramatic thing View Askew has ever put their name on. Released in 1997 at the Independent Feature Film Market, "A Better Place" deals with teen violence and teenage angst. Written and directed by View Askew historian Vincent Pereira, who has served as a set production assistant on Smith's movies, and has appeared in small roles in Clerks (The Goalie in the roof hockey game and as a customer), Chasing Amy (the startled pinball player after Joey Lauren Adams throws a skee ball through the machine), Dogma (uncredited extra) and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (Quick Stop Customer). The movie stars Robert DiPatri and Eion Bailey as well as some View Askew usuals such as Jason and Carmen Lee again, Brian Lynch, Scott Mosier, Lee Bendick (who plays #812 Wynarski in Clerks) and Ethan Suplee. It was released on DVD in 2002.
Big Helium Dog:
Written and directed by Brian Lynch, who had cameoed as a comic book shopper in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back as well as playing Bryan White and serving as the key craft service for Chasing Amy. Yet Lynch is best known for writing the Angry Naked Pat comics. The film, released in 1999, consists of a series of vignettes tied together by a loose plot, similar to Coffee & Cigarettes or The Kentucky Fried Movie. The cast is made up of a majority of the Broken Lizard Comedy Troupe, who made Super Troopers and Club Dread and "Ed" star Michael Ian Black has an appearance as well. Kevin Smith has a cameo.
"Vulgar" is a movie about a clown who decides to do "adult bachelor parties" and terror (and vulgarity) ensues. Written and directed by Bryan Johnson, best known as Steve-Dave Pulasti ("Tell em' Steve-Dave!") in the Kevin Smith films as well as serving as a production assistant on most of Kevin's films. Oddly enough (actually, not oddly at all) Vulgar the Clown was the official mascot and appeared on the View Askew logo until Jay and Silent Bob took over that honor. Starring longtime View Askew vet Brian O'Halloran, as well as vets Ethan Suplee, Jason Mewes (playing a character named Tuott the Basehead), David Klein, Walt Flanagan and Kevin Smith as Martan Ingram, which is an a play on the name Malcolm Ingram, who directed the aforementioned "Drawing Flies." The film was released in 2000 and had the widest release of all the non-Kevin Smith View Askew projects.
A documentary film by Steve James that tells the tale of what happened when indie film hot-shot John Pierson spent a year with his family in a remote portion of Fiji running a movie theatre that played American films. Pierson was integral in "Clerks." getting picked up by Miramax Films and is special thanked in the credits for both "Clerks." and "Chasing Amy." The film screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival as well as the Lake County Film Festival and Indianapolis International Film Festival. Pierson toured the nation with the film in fall 2005.
Small Town Gay Bar:
A documentary from the aforementioned Malcolm Ingram about a homosexual bar in a town in the deep south. The film has not seen release yet, but was selected to compete at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
Besides "Reel Paradise" and "Small Town Gar Bar," View Askew Productions has also released a number of documentaries detailing the work of the companies most recognizable name, Kevin Smith. "View Askew's Look Back at Mallrats" and "Judge Not: In Defense of Dogma" were made by expert behind-the-scenes documentary filmmaker J.M Penny, the latter is featured on the "Vulgar" DVD. "Snowball Effect: The Story of Clerks" directed by longtime View Askew sound editor Phil Benson which is being released on the three disc Clerks DVD. And the still unreleased "Oh What a Lovely Tea Party" directed by Kevin's wife Jennifer Schwalbach Smith that is a making of feature on Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and is rumored to be over three hours long.
View Askew Productions only brush with primetime television came when they produced the short lived animated TV series based on "Clerks", and thus titled after the movie. Two episodes aired in the spring of 2000 and then it was cancelled. All six episodes were released on a features packed DVD in 2003.
View Askew Productions has also produced a number of short-film projects. In collaboration with The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Kevin Smith wrote, directed and produced the 7 minute short The Flying Car, which was the first original short film ever commissioned by The Tonight Show. The film consists of a back and forth conversation between the Dante & Randal characters from Clerks, played once again by Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson. The short aired on February 27th, 2002 and was recently released on the Clerks X DVD. The other short written by and starring Kevin Smith is Roadside Attractions which are short features of Kevin visiting some rather fascinating tourist attractions throughout the U.S, many off the beaten path. "Roadside Attractions" has been a frequent feature on The Tonight Show since 2002. A large collection of these pieces can be found on the Jersey Girl DVD. A short cartoon titled Clerks: The Lost Scene is also credited as a View Askew production. The nine minute short is a scene in the animation style of the "Clerks" cartoon that Kevin apparently wrote for "Clerks," although it's a bit suspicious that a clear Chasing Amy reference is made in it. The short cartoon appeared on the Clerks X DVD.
View Askew Productions has also produced three comic book series all featuring characters from or characters mentioned in the films. The three series' are the Clerks Comics series, featuring "Clerks: The Comic Book," "Clerks: The Lost Scene" (which is the exact thing seen in the short cartoon) and "Clerks: Holiday Special." The second series was the Jay and Silent Bob Mini-Series which bridge the gap between Chasing Amy and Dogma (thus the trade paperback of the series being titled "Chasing Dogma") and the third book in the series helped inspire the premise for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The final series was the Bluntman and Chronic Series, which doesn't feed into the View Askewniverse storyline at all besides those characters playing a crucial role in Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Kevin Smith has contributed to many other comics (Daredevil, Green Arrow and Spider-Man to name a few) yet none of those were released via View Askew.
Yet, even though they've done shorts, documentaries cartoons and comics...View Askew Productions is still known majorly as a feature-length film production company.