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Little-Seen Kevin Smith Film Bows Same Day as <i>Silent Bob</i>

7 Feb, 2002 By: Jessica Wolf

During an introduction on the Drawing Flies DVD, executive producer Kevin Smith calls the indie film “the unsung gem of View Askew [Smith's production company].”

That's what IndieDVD — the supplier and DVD producer of the 1995 indie film — is hoping helps the obscure film that never got a theatrical release find a home in rental and sellthrough outlets.

IndieDVD received its biggest order yet from Best Buy for the title, which stars View Askew Productions regulars Jason Lee (Vanilla Sky, Chasing Amy, Mallrats) and Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Mallrats, Clerks) and streets Feb. 26, the same day as Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back from Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

Through Ventura Distribution, Best Buy picked up close to 10,000 copies of Drawing Flies, said IndieDVD co-founder Jonah Loeb, and the title will be featured in a February Best Buy circular. The coverage comes at a fee ($18,000), Loeb said, more than his company, which deals only with independent films, has ever spent on a single title, but the chance to get the word out on Drawing Flies to that many millions of homes was worth it.

Though IndieDVD's last title — Starwoids, a documentary about Star Wars Fans — was also stocked at Best Buy, Suncoast and Musicland, Drawing Flies is the first release the company has sold to Hollywood Video, which picked up VHS copies only, Loeb said. The DVD is packed with special features, including audio commentary with nearly all the stars — all View Askew regulars like Lee, Mewes, Joey Lauren Adams and Carmen Lee — and View Askew founders Smith and Scott Mosier.

IndieDVD picked up the rights to the title in 2000 (see Video Store Magazine, Dec. 10-16 2000), but mastering and music rights issues stalled the release process.

“The soundtrack is probably one of the best things about the movie,” Loeb said. “But it's got songs from all these Canadian punk bands on it, most of which have broken up and aren't speaking to each other anymore and we had to track them down and get the rights to all the songs.”

The Drawing Flies DVD also includes lost scenes, some of which were reinserted into the director's cut of the film, which is also on the disc. Other deleted scenes can be viewed separately. Co-directors/writers Malcolm Ingram and Matt Messing recorded their own audio commentary on the DVD.

Filmed in black-and-white, (Clerks style), Drawing Flies follows a group of friends living off welfare in Canada. They get roped into a camping trip as one friend, lead character Donner (Lee), goes rather crazy and spirals into a fantasy of finding Bigfoot in the forest. Director Ingram met producer Smith on the set of Mallrats and told him about his idea for the movie. Smith liked it and told him if he could make it for $40,000 View Askew would finance it. When Miramax picked up Mallrats, Smith asked for an additional $80,000 to fund other independent projects, Loeb said. That covered the Drawing Flies production and a few small things that came later.

“That's really nice to see,” Loeb said. “Here's a guy who good things are happening for and he is still looking out for other independent filmmakers.”

Smith joined in for the making of the Drawing Flies disc, with the aforementioned introduction and participation in one of the two audio commentaries. In the intro he says it was Lee's performance in this movie (filmed between Mallrats and Chasing Amy) that made him think Lee could handle more dramatic content, and Smith reworked the Chasing Amy role to reflect that.

At a screening of Drawing Flies last year Loeb said Lee talked to an audience about this film as his point of no return.

“He said up until Drawing Flies he was a skater pretending to be an actor,” Loeb said. “But he decided if he saw the final product and thought he was any good in this movie, he would give up skating and focus on acting.”

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