David Bloom is a Deadline contributor.

The next iteration of Clerks, based on Kevin Smith’s door-opening 1994 feature film debut, may be a book released chapter by chapter and influenced by reader input, the writer-director-online maven suggests. Speaking Friday night as part of a panel on “The Future of Online TV” at the Hollywood studio of the “What’s Trending?” online show, Smith said he had been pondering directing a third Clerks movie, then considered instead an online video series, “which, you know, would be kind of fun for me. It would be a way for me to get away from doing it with a studio.”

Now, he said, he would prefer to write a book based on the two central Clerks characters, releasing it chapter by chapter. “I get to go inside the characters’ heads, tell Year One origin stories where the first chapter is Dante and Randall meeting in kindergarten, all the stuff I can’t do in a movie,” Smith said. “That’s what I want to do, because I’m a stoner. I want to investigate the inner life of every character, and I can’t do that in 90 minutes with a film.”

Furthermore, releasing the book chapter by chapter, instead of as “one big, fat book,” would allow audience input to influence where the story goes, Smith said. “I know people would go, ‘Why would you want to? You’re an artist,” Smith said. “Well, now I’m a new-media artist and the new-media artist involves the audience and that’s something I’ve been doing for nearly 20 years at this point anyway.”

He said a movie “would be the ultimate expression of Clerks 3. The money will always be there if I do it as a feature, but if I want to get real creative, I’d break it down (into smaller pieces) and do it online.” Moving beyond a book form would, however, mean that he’d need to involve collaborators such as co-star Jason Mewes, who was participating in the panel by relaying questions from online audience members posted through Twitter.

With others involved, Smith said, they likely would prefer to create a movie, because the money is more likely to be there.
The panel was streamed live on the Internet and is now available in segments on YouTube (Smith’s discussion of the “Clerks” book starts at around 11:50 of his segment that you can watch below:

The panel was sponsored by NewTek, which made its name 25 years ago as creator of the Video Toaster video switcher for the long-gone Commodore Amiga computer. These days, NewTek is best known for its high-end Lightwave 3D animation software and the TriCaster line of hardware products for streaming video online. Other panelists included actress/producer Lisa Kudrow, whose online credits include the “Web Therapy” shorts that later became a Showtime series, and Burnie Burns, whose award-winning machinima series “Red vs. Blue” is nearing its 10th year of production.

NewTek founder Tim Jenison also participated, telling the audience he foresees the next revolution in storytelling to come from so-called “light field” technologies. Light field cameras, as they continue to evolve, could allow an immersive and interactive visual experience that he likened to the science-fictional holodeck. Light-field technologies already being used in Lytro still cameras that allow a user to adjust the focus anywhere in an image after the photo has been taken.

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