Clerk Director Malcolm Ingram Explains How He Tried to Stay Objective in Kevin Smith Documentary

Malcolm Ingram, director and producer with years of ties to geek icon Kevin Smith, finally decided to make a documentary about Smith, telling his story in a deeper way than you could get in a DVD featurette or magazine profile. The end result, Clerk, is available, and the movie benefits from Ingram's relationship to Smith. He has access to interviews with Smith's family and footage from his early life that few others could have acquired -- or had even seen prior to Clerk. But making a thoughtful, objective documentary film about an individual who is still alive is always going to be fraught. So how did Ingram balance that, given that Smith is a friend of his, too?

Well, a bit part of it was trying to relax a little bit. Ingram has made other films that are a lot more controversial, such as the documentary Small Town Gay Bar, and he had to realize that the two aren't, and don't need to be, taken equally seriously in some respects.

"I went into this ultra serious, and me and Kevin had some fights and stuff, but ultimately, I realized this isn't a movie about queer rights in the American South," Ingram explained. "This is a documentary of Kevin Smith, and Kevin's kind of a P.T. Barnum kind of figure. And I think that Kevin's story allows for some kind of colorful...you could have more fun with a Kevin Smith documentary than any of my other documentaries. So it took me a while to kind of figure that out for myself. Whereas I was really kind of worried about a lot of things, I began to realize that they were less and less important."

Ingram admits that Smith's own vision of his story is something that made their relationship complicated at times. Still, Smith has told his story, in both straightforward and fictionalized ways, for decades. This film had to be unique to Ingram's vision, or what's the point?

"Kevin's documentary was easy to make, but it was harder, and only because our personal politics made it harder," Ingram admitted. "Because look, Kevin's an artist. And Kevin has his own passions. Kevin has his own interpretation of things. So, of course, we're going to have problems. That's just a given. We had some problems; we got through it, you know what I mean? It was a pain in the ass for both of us. But for me, it was very important on an integrity level, because I wanted to feel that I was free Ultimately, it's not as self-serious as a documentary about the gay American South. You know what I mean?...When you're interviewing people like Fred Phelps and stuff like that, there's a certain rigidity that you have to maintain to tell those stories, because there's a black and white there. With Kevin, there's not so much a black and white."

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From 1091 Pictures, Clerk. is an immersive behind-the-scenes documentary examining the life and career of indie filmmaking and cultural icon Kevin Smith. Featuring never before seen interviews with friends, family, filmmaking peers, and icons of the film, comedy, and comic worlds. The film is now available on Digital.