Kevin Smith

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Smith moved home to New Jersey and got his old job back at a convenience store in Leonardo, and decided to set his film, Clerks, at the store, borrowing the life-in-a-day structure from the Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing. To finance the film, Smith maxed out more than a dozen credit cards and sold his much-treasured comic book collection, raising the $27,575 needed to make the film. He cast friends and acquaintances in the film's major parts. Clerks was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994, where it won the Filmmaker's Trophy. At a restaurant following the screening, Miramax executive Harvey Weinstein invited Smith to join him at his table, where he offered to buy the movie. In May 1994, it went to the Cannes International Film Festival, where it won both the Prix de la Jeunesse and the International Critics' Week Prize. Released in October 1994 in two cities, the film went on to play in 50 markets, never playing on more than fifty screens at any given time. Despite the limited release, it was a critical and financial success, earning $3. 1 million. Initially, the film received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, solely for the sexually graphic language. Miramax hired Alan Dershowitz to bring a lawsuit against the MPAA, and at an appeals screening, a jury consisting of members of the National Association of Theater Owners reversed the MPAA's decision, and the film was given an R rating instead. The film had a profound effect on the independent film community, and according to producer and author John Pierson, is considered one of the two most influential film debuts in the 1990s, along with The Brothers McMullen.