Kevin Smith on why his R-rated trailer for Zack and Miri Make a Porno was pulled by MPAA

Scene from Kevin Smith film Zack and Miri Make a Porno, with Seth Rogen and Elizabeth BanksAs many of you already know, that funny teaser trailer for Kevin Smith’s upcoming film Zack and Miri Make a Porno, was pulled from the web. Funny, I always thought the web was supposed to “open”, and “the next frontier”, and “the playing field leveler”, and all that good stuff. So unique marketing for an aptly titled film gets caught up in a rumble about MPAA rules? Does that mean going outside the lines is still a means for backlash and fringe treatment…even on the web? My biggest fear when hearing about stories like this is, what’s going to happen to all those young wanna-be filmmakers that want to direct the big films, but have too much fear to do something different because the rules committee might have a problem with it. Not that I don’t have respect for the MPAA. It’s an extremely important organization, making choices that can rightfully steer films into directions that make them palatable to a larger audience. I almost think of them as a tough film critic, you aim to please, but hopefully on your own terms. And I believe they help filmmakers see things from perspectives they might not otherwise as artists, and that’s important. We all know, it’s about making money and making more people see our films at the end of the day.

Kevin Smith is a brilliant voice in film, and needs flexibility to bring that voice to the screen the best way he knows how. Give the guy his due. I remember going to see Clerks at the Angelica Film Center in New York when it first hit theaters, and thinking,

Oh shit, a guy from New Jersey put this together?

That wasn’t a slam to the state I grow up in and love. Up to that point it was like, if I didn’t get some suit and tie job, and a weekly paycheck, I’m nothing. Then this dude comes along, and turns nothing into more than something. Into an anthem for working-class young men everywhere.

Viral marketing is critically important to small films, and if talented filmmakers are to continue to develop their crafts, there should be more flexibility here.

Kevin Smith said on News Askew the following:

The MPAA called and said we had to take it down. Weinstein Co., like most studios, is a signatory of the MPAA. As such, there are protocols involving trailers that we failed to follow. As with features, all trailers get rated get rated by the MPAA. The majority of them are for general audiences (Green Band trailers), but trailers packed with adult content (like our teaser) earns you what’s called a Red Band trailer.

Well, we didn’t go through this process – simply because, we felt, that since the teaser didn’t contain any footage from the actual flick, it wasn’t technically a trailer. Boy, was I wrong. Turns out all promotional material for any film financed/distributed by a signatory of the MPAA has to be signed-off on by the MPAA – including internet-only materials. I never realized this, as it’d never been a problem in the past… nobody ever raised a red flag before (not even on the last flick, for which we also put up two ‘net-only teasers in advance of the rated trailer). But I guess since the teaser was so, shall we say, racy… a rating was in order.

According to reports, Smith has submitted the video clip to the MPAA for a rating and, if it is “approved”, will post it back online.

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