Smiths Degrassi high
Directors stint on series fulfils dream
Only in this country could a successful Hollywood filmmaker and actor like Kevin Smith the director behind small, but popular cult films such as Clerks, Chasing Amy and Dogma almost be turned down for a chance to work on one of his favourite Canadian shows, Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Smith, a Degrassi fan since his days as a 21-year-old convenience store employee who watched the Canadian teen soap opera to pass time at work, was told that the one obstacle to his dream of writing and directing an episode of the show was his passport.
I called up (Degrassi: The Next Generation executive producer) Linda Schuyler and said, I would kill or die to write and direct and episode, he told Metro. She said well, you cant, youre not Canadian … Ive been told no before, but that was the best time.
Smith understood the Telefilm rules which restrict key roles in government-funded Canadian productions to Canuck talent, but he managed to come up with a backup plan.
He would play himself in three episodes written around a fictional sequel to his film Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, which Smith would film at Degrassi High. The director would also bring along his potty-mouthed friend and perpetual co-star Jason Mewes (Jay of Jay And Silent Bob fame) along to Canada to make the fictional movie.
Smith was pleased with the compromise and signed on. The opportunity not only fulfilled a dream of appearing on his beloved show, but a recent press tour has given the cult-film hero a chance to arrive at some conclusions about Canadians.
You take an American, ring out the worst qualities the a–hole nature, the chip on one shoulder and sense of entitlement … and youre pretty much left with a Canadian, he says.
As for our stereotypically polite nature and gentle misdemeanour, the 34-year-old says the tables have turned since he attended film school in Vancouver in his early 20s.
Since the (Iraq) war, you come up here and the stereotype of the very polite and differing Canadian is gone because you guys have the upper hand, he says. Its like, we were smart enough not to get involved in a useless f—— war that you should have been smart enough not to get involved in, in the first place.
Smith appears on Degrassi: The Next Generation on CTV tonight.