Kevin Smith's 'Tusk' Project Epitomizes New Media Capitalism

Kevin Smith's 'Tusk' Project Epitomizes New Media Capitalism

Writer/Director Kevin Smith has recorded the history of his new film Tusk quite thoroughly. The story goes like this: Smith and his producing partner, Scott Mosier (Free Birds), were recording their Smodcast podcast when they began talking about a UK ad Smith had seen. The ad was supposedly posted by an older, retired gentleman, and he was looking for someone to live in his big house rent free.

The catch was that the lucky person had to dress up like a walrus and act like a walrus for two hours a day. Strange indeed. Smith and Mosier joked about the ad but also began wondering what a horror film would be like if it were based on this concept.

Smith took the talk seriously and had a script ready not long after. Then he got the film financed. Now he’s wrapped filming and his goal is to be at the Sundance Film Festival in January with his rock and roll horror flick that came out of nowhere. If you want the full story in all its twisted and humorous detail then click those links in the first sentence and enjoy. 

What’s most interesting about Smith’s newest movie venture is that one can argue that Tusk is this generation’s pure example of capitalist art. I’ve written here before about how crowdfunding, podcasting and other growing elements of media and art are allowing art to become capitalist in America for the first time, and everyone is better off for it.

Let’s use Tusk as an example. Smith began the idea as any artist would. It hit him and he didn’t realize it was a story idea until after the fact. He mused about the plot on his podcast which exists because people don’t want to put up with the white noise that is radio. They want real interactions that involve human connection and pure creativity. That’s what the episode was where Smith thought up Tusk.

Before the age of podcasts, twitter, etc. you usually needed funding before you wrote your film. You would need a pitch first and an agent and blah, blah, blah. Smith simply told people to take to Twitter and tell him whether they wanted to see his weird little movie. People responded with #WalrusYes or #WalrusNo. After an overwhelming number of people positively responded, Smith set out to write his story with zero producers and zero financing.

This entire interaction is capitalist. It’s an exchange between artist and customer with no big business or government agency standing in the way. Because of the pureness of the exchange, Smith is off putting together a film that has no allegiance to anything. It’s a pure piece of art he wants to make and he knows his fans want to see.

A film like Tusk would not and could not exist ten years ago. Neither would many other projects that Big Hollywood has celebrated like Director’s Cut, Road Hard or Atlas Shrugged Part 3: Who is John Galt? With radio, movie studios, publishing companies, etc. shrinking because of new media and new technology, America is reaching an incredibly exciting time when it comes to the arts.

Other countries turn to government financing or big business while we are moving towards a capitalist system of art for the first time in a long time. Tusk is an amazing example of this.

By taking out the middle man and creating a stronger relationship between artist and customer, art is more creative (hence the uniqueness of Tusk’s story) and people are able to have the exact thing they’ve always wanted when it comes to arts and entertainment: choice.

Podcasting, twitter, self-publishing, crowdfunding, streaming, etc. all allow for this pure relationship to exist and will continue to help it expand until old media and old ways die out and art and capitalism are allowed to flourish … together.