MOTW: Five Fun Facts about "Clerks"
The 1994 movie "Clerks" is a true cult classic. Filmed at a New Jersey convenience store for a mere $27,000, "Clerks" went on to make more than $3 million in international box office sales and launched Kevin Smith's career as a screenwriter and director.
Fans of the film know the story well: Dante Hicks is a clerk at a convenience store in New Jersey who gets called in on his day off, a Saturday morning. He spends the day dealing with a laundry list of major and minor annoyances. The shutters at the convenience store are stuck and won't open, his ex-girlfriend is getting married, and his boss still hasn't shown up to take his place, even though Dante has a hockey game in the afternoon. His friend Randall, who works at the video store next door, seems committed to annoying Dante and avoiding his own work, and Dante must deal with a parade of difficult customers.
The film is well known to many who were coming of age in the early- to mid-1990s, but there are still a few facts about the film that serve as tasty bits of trivia for "Clerks" fans. Here are five of them:
The film was creatively financed.
The $27,000 budget for "Clerks" is extremely low compared to other films, but director Kevin Smith still had a hard time scraping up the funds to make his big screen debut. Smith financed the movie by maxing out several credit cards, selling most of his large comic book collection, and borrowing $3,000 from his family and friends. Part of the movie's financing came from an insurance settlement he received when his car was destroyed in a flood. Happily, the success of "Clerks" and Smith's subsequent films has allowed him to buy back most of the comic books he sold to make his first movie.
The "Clerks" logo has diverse origins.
Most fans of "Clerks" are familiar with the poster image for the film. The same image was used for the DVD release, and it shows the five main characters in black and white and the title of the movie in color at the bottom. Each letter in the word "Clerks" is in a different color and font, but only a privileged few know that each letter was cut from a magazine title or snack product package. The C is from Cosmopolitan Magazine, the L is from Life Magazine, the E is from Rolling Stone, the R is from Ruffles potato chips, the K is from Clark candy bars, and the S is from a box of Goobers candy.
It was set in very familiar territory for Kevin Smith.
"Clerks" was filled at a convenience store where Smith was working at the time of filming. For twenty-one nights in a row while the movie was filming, Smith worked in the store from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The film shoot would last from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., leaving Smith with only an hour or two of sleep each night for three weeks. The owners only allowed him to film when the store was closed for business, and since bright lights were out of the movie budget, an explanation for the shutters always being down was worked into the plot. The "RST" in RST Video stands for "Rajiv, Sarla, and Tarlochen." These are the first names of the family who still own the video store and the Quick Stop where "Clerks" was filmed.
Smoking was a very big deal to Kevin Smith … but not anymore.
There is a distinct antismoking sentiment that runs throughout "Clerks." In one scene, the Chewlie's gum rep even slams a "smoker's lung" down on the counter to show the ills of cigarette smoking. The "smoker's lung" was actually a calf's liver that had been thrown in dirt and burned with cigarettes. The antismoking stance largely represents Smith's own attitudes toward smoking when he wrote the screenplay. Because of this, Silent Bob, played by Smith, doesn't inhale when he puffs on his cigarette. After filming was done on "Clerks," Smith became a cigarette smoker with a two-pack-a-day habit.
"Clerks" is the beginning of an entire universe.
"Clerks" is the first film in what would become known as the View Askewniverse series. The other five films are "Clerks," "Mallrats," "Chasing Amy," "Dogma," "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," and "Clerks II." The movies in this intricately interconnected series are linked by events, themes and characters, and each film contains references to the others. View Askewniverse also includes comic books, short films, and an animated television series.
Kevin Smith recently announced that he is writing a script for "Clerks III." The film will be his last as a director. Considering the number of characters and themes Smith has already explored, viewers may well find more fun facts in his final film.