Malcolm Ingram talks Clerk, Kevin Smith documentary

Kevin Smith in Clerk. Photo credit: Bruce Lee Roberts III.

Malcolm Ingram spoke with Solzy at the Movies about Clerk during SXSW 2021 but this interview is running with the Blu-ray release.

My apologies for not running this interview during SXSW 2021, the subsequent road show tour, or the digital release. Awards season was very hectic that year. In any event, the film is now available on VHS and Blu-ray for audiences to bring home. It also marks the start of Ingram’s own home entertainment distribution company, Mercantile Instinct. Copies will only be available through the website with Blu-rays available in signed and non-signed editions.

I first watched Clerk leading up to what was supposed to be its original world premiere during SXSW 2020 and a scheduled press day. But with the pandemic, it meant the fest being cancelled and having to hold my film review indefinitely. A year later, SXSW would include the film in its 2021 lineup.

Bonus Features

  • Brand new commentary with Kevin Smith and Malcolm Ingram
  • Extended interviews with Stan Lee, Judd Nelson, Jason Reitman, and Richard Linklater
  • New interviews with Ralph Garman and Joe Manganiello
  • Extended Intro
  • Alternate Ending
  • Official Trailer
  • Commentary with the Stanley Brothers– Join Sean Stanley (Clerk Editor) and his brother Warren (teaser poster designer) as they discuss the film and their experiences being fans who made it good
  • An immersive behind the scenes documentary examining the life and career of indie filmmaking and cultural icon Kevin Smith.

What follows is an abbreviated version of our 2021 interview:

Malcolm Ingram
Malcolm Ingram.

How thrilled are you and Kevin Smith to finally Clerk this film to the public?

Malcolm Ingram: Oh, totally. We’re very, very happy. It’s a privilege play a film festival, especially a festival like South By. We’re thrilled and we’re honored and we’re looking forward to hearing what people think.

You’ve known Kevin for over 25 years. Whose idea was it to make a documentary about his career and how long has this film been in the works?

Malcolm Ingram: It was me that brought up the idea, initially. It was actually at the Sundance Film Festival when Kevin was there for Yoga Hosers and I was there just rooting them on. There was a documentary for Richard Linklater that played, and me and Kevin went. Watching that movie, I was just like, oh, maybe it’s time to tell Kevin’s—they told Richard’s story, maybe we could tell Kevin’s story? We walked into the movie, and I was like, Kevin, can I? He wasn’t really into it. I think over time, he kind of grew into it. It was 25 years so it’s a natural marker in time to go back and look at things. I think that I had a perspective where I’d been there, I’d seen a lot, I knew the story to tell. It just fit to tell this story. It was complicated because being a friend, you want to maintain objectivity. You don’t want to, like suck a guy’s dick. It was very important for me to make a great movie, but also make a movie that was true to the subject and was true to the audience. It was something that I can be proud of. That was very much part of it. It’s complicated. I have a very strong attitude. Kevin’s got a very strong attitude. We fought. We absolutely fought, but me and Kevin have always fought—that’s very much kind of part of our relationship. I’m kind of like, the David Chappelle thing—keeping it real. I keep it real. In Kevin’s world, I’m the keeping it real guy. I’m always the guy who is like, no, we’ve got to keep it real. Me and Kevin a very honest relationship and we’re like family, we fight like family. Me and Kevin didn’t talk for a year after this move. We just stopped talking and then we had to get back together and figure out a way how to finish it. We were both very strong willed and we kind of both had our very strong opinions.

How long was the initial cut?

Malcolm Ingram: Sean Stanley, my editor, is a pretty good cutter. He doesn’t deliver fat cuts. You know what I mean? We talk about it through the whole process. That movie was very much built as we went. I would get footage. I would send him the footage and I talked to him very detailed about the footage. I tell him the selects. The original cut wasn’t that long. It pretty much stayed close—there’s no five hour version of that. At best, it would have been like 2:20 at the longest.

What was it like to interview Stan Lee and how much of this interview wasn’t used in the film?

Malcolm Ingram: Every word that Stan Lee says was used in that film. I’m very fortunate because I work with a very small crew. It’s me, usually, and a DP. It’s usually two people. To get to get that interview with Stan Lee, I didn’t want to be creepy. I knew he was very much reaching the ending of his years. I think that everybody knew that Stan was kind of—I was kind of like, at first, I don’t want to harass the guy. But then you’re kind of like, well, I don’t want to not include him because of my assumption of what I think he’s going through. I mean, why don’t you just leave it up to him? We very gently, we’re just like, if you have anything to say, Stan, we’d love to have you. He came back very strong, like, absolutely, I would love the opportunity.

That interview, we did it at Stan’s house. From the time we walked in the door to the time we were walking out the door, it was with seven minutes. It was so quick just because I didn’t want to take pictures. You see someone like Stan Lee, who is like a G-d on Earth. You’re like, Oh, I want to document this room myself and you’re like, no, it’s not about me. This man feels he’s got something he wants to say about Kevin, it is my job to be the messenger of that. We set up. I asked one question and he gave three answers. I was like, Is there anything else? He said, Yes. He added something else. I was like, thank you very much and I walked out. I just didn’t want to get past. It ended up being the last interview he ever gave. I mean, it’s Stan Lee. He’s a remarkable human being. To have a privilege to be in his presence to talk about Kevin and to see my friend be talked about so warmly by somebody who is so important in the cultural zeitgeist, it was wonderful. It was a magical moment.

When was that interview?

Malcolm Ingram: That interview would have been July 2018—July or August.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about Kevin while making the documentary?

Malcolm Ingram: I think one of the most interesting things I’ve learned about Kevin is that how much he’s been a part of. I was on the journey with him. I was on the sidelines, but when you kind of put it all together, and just his connection to the Marvel Universe, his connection to Star Wars, his connection to podcasting. He has been involved in a lot. He’s had his hands in a lot of things—it’s like the entire world. I make fun of him all the time about this. It’s like, literally, you’re just this nerdy guy and the whole world turned and saw it your way. That’s how it worked. I mean, Kevin, didn’t change. Kevin didn’t put Star Wars in Clerks, talking about Star Wars, because—it made him laugh, it made friends laugh. It was genuine. It was authentic. Nobody was talking about Star Wars when that movie came out. Fucking Mallrats? Trust me. Critics were like, Stan Lee what?!? Comic books? He was killed for it. But now, you put Mallrats to a 20-year-old now, that movie looks like it was made yesterday—just kind of all of the things that become so important.

I remember watching Captain Marvel—you’ve got the clip in the film where Stan is reading the Mallrats script. That’s one of the most meta moments in Marvel films.

Malcolm Ingram: Isn’t that great? Yeah, yeah. I love that moment.

What do you want people to take away from watching the film?

Malcolm Ingram: I want them want them to really appreciate what Kevin’s done as an artists and as a human being. I think the wonderful thing about this documentary, what I’m hoping for it, is that basically, anybody who’s ever gotten in shit for being a Kevin Smith fan, could show him this movie and be like, this is what I love and this is why I love him. You know what I mean? We spend our lives being fans of things that people just want to shit on. I’m a huge Jack White fan and I always hear my stupid hipster friends being like, blah, blah, blah, blah. This is just a fucking document that’s just like, Oh, this is why I love him. This is why I love Kevin Smith. Whether I achieve that or not, it was a lofty goal. I wanted people to remember why they loved him and I wanted people to show other people this is why I’m a fan of this person.

Clerk is now available on Blu-ray.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.