Director Kevin Smith loves his online fans

Here’s an interesting article in the Washington Post by Desson Thomson about Clerks II director Kevin Smith’s online interaction with his fans:

No other filmmaker has made it his business to nurture, kibitz with, heckle and engage his fans on such an intimate, day-to-day basis.

How many artists of any stripe have? His webboards have well over a million posts: http://viewaskew.com/theboard/, he’s got a blog: http://www.silentbobspeaks.com/, he’s got 30,000 friends on MySpace, and he’s on Flickr. Now there’s someone who’s making the most of the web. But missing entirely from the article is any mention of money. Is this all a labor of love? A quest for self-validation? Or is it also part of a web-savvy business model?

The article focuses on the support he receives. On webboards:

‘So at 2 in the morning, if I wake up and I’m, like, I suck, and I’m alone in the world, I can jump on there and have somebody be, like, I like what you do, and sleep better?

On MySpace:

“Who knew that I would be so desperate for friends that I would spend at least two to three hours every day approving friends?”

The article also addresses the willingness to hear criticism and flaming that his approach entails. I was particularly interested in his solution to the flaming:

He also now charges a lifetime fee of $2 to post on his Web sites. (The proceeds go to a rape counseling organization.) It seems to have done the trick, he says, and allowed him to do what he loves best — with less turbulence.

Stay Tuned

Coming in summer, 2006.

In the meantime, if you see or hear of any cool things happening in online fan communities, please drop me a note at nancy at this url.