Jason Mewes’ Next Step

Monday, 31 August 2009

It's a safe assumption that, if you came of age in the Nineties, you're well aware of who Jason Mewes is. As the loud, foul-mouthed, 'hetero life-mate' to Silent Bob in Kevin Smith's New Jersey series of movies that included Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Clerks II, Mewes' character Jay has long since been established as an unlikely hero, moral barometer and holder of herbal refreshments in pop culture. The directory of slogans that the character has given viewers has not been short either (“Snootchie Bootchies,” “Snoogans,” “Boannnggg!” and more) – but it has been three years since Clerks II came out; most of the cast and crew (including creator Kevin Smith) have moved on to other creative endeavors and the man that has been universally known as “Jay” until now is no exception. Now clean and sober, in recent months, Mewes has begun to move beyond the characters and comfortable, recurring slot he's established in Kevin Smith's View Askew-niverse to find out what opportunities there might be for him in the entertainment world outside of New Jersey. It hasn't been easy, according to Mewes, but has been most gratifying. “It's been a lot different,” concedes the actor while on a promotional stop in Toronto. “I mean, some directors are a lot more uptight – which isn't much fun – and they won't necessarily give you much direction on your performance; they're more concerned with the visual which is a lot different for me.

“At the same time, they might be more uptight because there isn't a lot of money and they're limited to only two takes so they're bitching and moaning about this and that so it's definitely a different experience and it's never as much fun as it is when I do a movie with Kevin,” continues Mewes. “When we work together, it's always a blast. I've had fun on these other pictures I've done – don't get me wrong – but it's always a blast when I work with Kevin and all our peeps like Scott Mosier and  all that we've always worked with movie after movie.

“It's a very different working atmosphere. Other directors aren't necessarily looking for the same things that Kevin is so it's a matter of giving them what they want while other people are stressed because they aren't getting paid much money but they're working fifteen or sixteen hours a day and not getting treated well. That's hard, and it's different every time.”

It hasn't been easy and has had to be a very quick curve on which to learn, but Mewes has discovered a whole new world outside of the View Askew-nivese and, as it turns out, Mewes' recent appearance in the made-for-TV movie, DeGrassi Goes Hollywood, as an untested director wasn't one hundred percent fictitious. Several months ago, Mewes began to work with a few associates toward founding 7 Star Pictures, their own production company, and the business has grown quickly as projects begin to take shape, according to Mewes. “7 Star Pictures is now really starting to move along,” says Mewes, getting audibly more excited at the turn in conversation. “What that's about is myself and six of my buddies got together and started our own production company. I'm going to try and do some producing and directing and it's looking like we'll be shooting a movie in the coming year called K-11 with Nikki Reed and Kristen Stewart in January or February. We started months and months ago – about nine months actually – and we were supposed to do K-11 then but something fell through. It's getting back on track now though. We have a couple of other scripts that we're in the process of getting sorted out and set up – Gideon's Gift and Repo is what they're called – but nothing is set in stone yet. There is one more too so there are three that we're looking at, but the closest one is looking like it will be K-11 in January, and maybe Gideon in November or December in Pittsburgh but things keep changing and keep getting rearranged so we'll see what happens with that.

“It's really different – working on that side of the business – and really interesting because I've never done it before now. I'm learning though, and it's really exciting now that it all looks like it's starting to come together.”

At the same time, it isn't as if Mewes has elected to disavow his experiences with the crew at View Askew. They were an important part of his initial exposure and he has burned those bridges. How with his own career upfront though, his dealings have led him to Canada where he's mixing some old business with some new business. In addition to directing and appearing in a video for The Artist Life's new single, Let's Start A Riot," Mewes has set up a series of speaking engagements similar to the Threevening that Kevin Smith did and broadcast on HBO. It will be a night of stories and laughs for audiences as, in a Q&A format, they're offered the opportunity to hear Mewes give some behind-the-scenes insight into his life and his take on the movies that brought both he and Kevin Smith to worldwide acclaim. “I knew I was coming up for DeGrassi and the video shoot as well as a show that I'm doing in Edmonton, so I asked the people I was working with if they might be able to get some other things together,” explains Mewes of how the  Q&A appearances came together. “At that point, we talked about trying to arrange a sort of show like the one we're doing at Bloor Street Cinema so they put the work out and got some bites from some colleges and some bars before we had the Bloor Street show confirmed and it fell together.

“I mainly do a Q&A format and just give the people that come out the answers to what they're asking and try to make it as entertaining as possible,” continues Mewes. “People tend to ask a lot if I'm like the character Jay in real life and they ask about when I met Kevin and how I met Kevin – those are the most common questions. Once in a while I'll get someone asking if I'll tea bag – so it can go a lot of different ways depending on the night and the crowd. This one in particular is going to be really exciting for me because the other ones I've done before this have been a matter of people inviting me to come to their place and do a Q&A but we put this one at Bloor Street Cinema together ourselves so I'm hoping we have a big turnout and make it really fun; I try to get to everything, but there have been times where, if something's going on for a while and other people are asking me to sign stuff and it's getting late, I'll say so and tell people that I'm going to end it so I can get all the autographs signed and nobody has complained about that.

“On the third at Bloor Street Cinema, we're just going to sit down, ask some questions, I'll answer them and tell some stories,” says Mewes, with an air of contentment and comfort that is suddenly reassuring. “For this one, we were selling advance tickets so we started a contest and the winner and a friend will have a dinner date with me. We're also going to have a couple of comedians come out to the show with me and I'm going to play a couple of clips from some movies I did that are coming out in September. It'll be fun; it's sort of like Kevin's 'Night With' that he's doing and they filmed one of for HBO, but Kevin can go for five or six hours or longer because he's been doing them for years. I'm building up to that [laughing]; I can go for about three hours and while his stories are about fifteen or twenty minutes long, mine are about three to six minutes – but I'll pull my balls out and he won't.”


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