Kevin Smith on Why Quentin Tarantino Said No to 'Tusk' (Guest Column)

From left: Smith, Tarantino and Bryan Johnson, the "TELL 'EM, STEVE-DAVE" ringleader as well as Beard Guy on AMC's "Comic Book Men." This was taken at the Munich Film Festival, Summer 1994, when we were all thinner.
From left: Smith, Tarantino and Bryan Johnson, the "TELL 'EM, STEVE-DAVE" ringleader as well as Beard Guy on AMC's "Comic Book Men." This was taken at the Munich Film Festival, Summer 1994, when we were all thinner.

The director's tireless campaign to bring his walrus horror movie to life continues.

And then we lost the location. Sadly, the house in the woods we loved had already been scooped up by another show ahead of us. And since 90 percent of the flick takes place in and around the house location, it meant not just finding a new on-camera house, but finding a new on-camera house that could also be home to the entire production full of trucks, trailers, generators, cast and crew over the full course of the shoot. We'd never find another location I dug as much in Toronto on such short notice …

But there was a house that suited all our needs tucked away in the woods of North Carolina.

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In indie film, you learn to be nimble. It's like being a hockey player inasmuch as you may not have control over where you ply your trade: If you're playing for Boston and you're suddenly traded to Edmonton, you don't get to bitch about it, you just go. A move to North Carolina, as it turned out, would save our low-budget production even more money. So 48 hours after losing the location, we were saying goodbye to Andrew and the Canadian shoot, and saying hello to a Charlotte shoot. Back in the first blog, I wrote about starting Sept. 15. Then we pushed our start to October. Now, with the move to North Carolina, we've pushed the start date for what I hope is the last time, to Nov. 4.

And that's where we are today. Had I known David Greathouse (or Casa Grande) a few years earlier, I might've been president of these United States, so valuable an asset is this man to any production. Greathouse, Shannon and I were in Charlotte last week, scouting locations with Jason King and my first female first assistant director, Alisa Fredericks. We also got to meet with John Kretschmer, the production designer we scored off Homeland as they wrap their third season. Kretsch's designs for the walrus enclave where Justin is trapped were nothing short of brilliant. And thanks to the genius of locations legends Jason King and Randy Byers, all of our locations are within one square mile of each other. We walked around for hours picking the rooms in which we'd set scenes I'd only mused about in a podcast mere months prior. And in a month from this moment, I'll be in North Carolina, watching Michael Parks as he attempts to turn Justin Long into a human walrus.

A month ago, I sat down with Michael Parks and read the script from top to bottom. It was so delicious to watch him as he descended deeper and deeper into the madness of the walrus-maker. I can't wait till audiences get to see what I got to watch in a command performance of sorts: One of the world's greatest actors bringing to life some of the most f---ed up dialogue I've ever written. And I can't wait to watch them watching him.

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But let's be honest: Justin's gonna have the heavy lifting on set. Literally -- as Kurtzman's human-walrus suit is big and bulky. And it all begins with a simple layer of latex, which was applied in Hollywood this weekend …

So on Nov. 4, we dig our tusks into the ice and go to work, hoping to be done in time to make it to the Sundance Film Festival in January. Not sure we'll make it, but I'm hoping I have to write a check for the submission fee, just like I did 20 years ago when I had amazing Bugs Bunny checks (see below) …

What started as a podcast became a script and is now about to be a movie. You see, kids? Sometimes when you chase whimsy as far as you can, it gets winded and weird enough for you to catch it.

That leaves just one last loose end: with Quentin out of the running, who would play the Mad Mountie of Montreal tracking the monster-maker? When I write again in January, I'll tell you the long, twisted tale of the casting of Guy Lapointe -- which includes the story behind this Tweet …



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