By Chris Rotolo |
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – If a kid from Highlands who worked at the Quick Stop can make it, so can you.
It’s a sentiment that local icon Kevin Smith has used to inspire a generation of independent filmmakers and one that holds weight, considering the Henry Hudson Regional High School alum was in fact an employee of the Leonardo convenience store while he wrote, directed and produced his breakthrough 1994 hit “Clerks.”
A champion of independent film and the creative minds behind them, Smith has announced he’ll be coming home next month in support of the Atlantic Highlands-based FilmOneFest, where he’ll lead an intimate Q&A session on Sunday, May 6 at the vintage Atlantic Cinemas.
“Whenever Kevin has hosted events like this, he’s always encouraging and supportive of the artists who are there to ask questions of him,” said Corinna Thuss, FilmOneFest managing director. “He’s genuine and speaks from the heart. He’s able to make a connection. That’s why his story continues to inspire. It’s his authenticity. You can’t fake that and it resonates.”
Thuss is in her fourth year with the FilmOneFest – a showcase dedicated to two-minute-long films – and alongside festival founder Robert O’Connor and their staff of dedicated volunteers, the Atlantic Highlands native has worked to make the 10th anniversary of this celebration of the short film a special one.
“I know 10 years is a special milestone for Robert and everyone involved and being able to have Kevin be part of the celebration speaks to how far this festival has come. We’re at a place now where we can properly host and promote a huge event featuring a filmmaker of his stature.”
Smith is home recovering from life-saving surgery after he suffered a massive heart attack Feb. 25 while shooting a stand-up special in California. According to social media posts by Smith, he had a 100 percent blockage of his left anterior descending artery, also known as a widow-maker. His recovery is not expected to affect his attendance at the event.
This is the second consecutive year Smith will be headlining a Q&A event in support of FilmOneFest and festival volunteer Janet Petersen is the one responsible for bringing the filmmaker on board.
“Kevin has been a longtime friend of mine,” said Petersen, who met Smith in the eighth grade at Henry Hudson Regional School. “We connected from the very beginning. He was always someone that you just felt comfortable around. He genuinely cares about people and I think that’s why he and his work resonates so strongly with audiences.”
Petersen, who attended college in California before settling with her family in the borough, became involved with FilmOneFest two years ago when she learned of the event through her volunteer work with the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council.
“The Arts Council offers a free summer arts camp that my two boys take part in and I wanted to give back to the organization that has given my kids so much,” said Petersen, a wealth manager at Oppenheimer. “That’s when I gave Kevin a call and mentioned the festival to him. He was on board immediately and asked what we could do.”
The “Intimate Q&A with Kevin Smith” is not part of the scheduled FilmOneFest events but rather a precursor to the festivities, as the festival itself is set to take place on July 21.
Tickets for the event are limited and can be purchased at filmonefest.org. There are 22 rows of seating in the Atlantic Cinemas theater. Access to premium seating (Rows 2 through 5) is $60, while regular admission seating is $55.
Event Prep – The Kevin Smith Tour of the Jersey Shore
Kevin Smith is the mastermind behind such revered cult classics as “Clerks,” “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma,” a series of films that showcased the filmmaker’s adoration for his Bayshore roots by filming at least portions of the movies at various Jersey Shore locations.
You can prepare for his forthcoming Q&A by taking this Kevin Smith Tour of the Jersey Shore:
The Quick Stop: The tour starts where it all began for Smith, at the Quick Stop convenience store located at 58 Leonard Ave. in Leonardo. Smith filmed the majority of “Clerks” inside the shop, save for some street hockey antics on the roof and select scenes at the now defunct RST Video Rental. He also brought “Clerks II” to a heartwarming conclusion at the shop. Head inside to check out the Quick Stop’s “shrine” to Smith and search for the perfect dozen eggs.
The Kings Arms Diner: When Ben Affleck delivered a royalty check to Jay and Silent Bob at this Belford eatery back in the 1997 film “Chasing Amy,” it was called the Marina Diner. Located at 553 Route 36, the diner has since been renamed the Kings Arms, but the layout is still the same. Walk inside, head to the left and pop a squat in the third booth on the right.
Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash: Stopping by The Secret Stash at 35 Broad St. in Red Bank is a must for any fan on the Kevin Smith Tour of the Jersey Shore. None of his movies were filmed at the location, but you can see memorabilia from the sets of “Clerks II” and “Dogma.”
Jack’s Music Shoppe: After perusing the stash, head across the street to Jack’s Music Shoppe at 30 Broad St. where scenes from “Chasing Amy” were shot. You can also sit on the steps of the apartment to the left of the legendary record store, the upstairs abode that Affleck and Jason Lee called home in the 1997 film.
Victory Park: Get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Red Bank by heading down River Road to Victory Park in Rumson. It was on the swing set where Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams fell in love in “Chasing Amy.”
Silver Ball Museum: One thing you may not have known about God – or Alanis Morissette, who played the supreme being in Smith’s 1999 production “Dogma” – is that the omniscient being is a big fan of ski ball, or at least that’s what Smith led us to believe in his star-studded spiritual satire. God can be seen strolling on the Asbury Park Boardwalk after a ski ball binge at the 1000 Ocean Ave. locale.
The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel: In “Chasing Amy” Affleck and Lee play a pair of successful comic book artists who we first see at a local comic convention. The convention was shot in the ballroom at the storied Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel at 1401 Ocean Ave. in Asbury Park.
Ocean Ice Palace: After a long day of touring, the last stop on this trek brings you to the historic Ocean Ice Palace. Cool off with a skate or take in a game from the balcony seating above the ice where Affleck and Adams appeared in the climactic scene of “Chasing Amy.”
This article was first published in the April 12-19, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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