Red State is a 2011 American independent horror action film, written and directed by Kevin Smith, starring John Goodman, Melissa Leo and Michael Parks.
Kevin Smith originally announced the concept for what would become Red State at the 2006 wizard world con in Chicago, stating that it would be a straight horror film, differing from the comedy films he was known for. In April 2007, Smith revealed the title of the movie to be Red State and said that it was inspired by infamous pastor Fred Phelps, or as Smith claimed, “very much about that subject matter, that point of view and that position taken to the absolute extreme. It is certainly not Phelps himself but it’s very much inspired by a Phelps (like) figure.”The first draft was finished in August 2007.
On October 13, 2009, Smith stated that funding had been secured for Red State but that he wanted to proceed with Hit Somebody and delay filming Red State for a year.
The film was originally set to be funded by listeners of Kevin Smith’s Smodcast podcast but the idea was later dropped. Film producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein also passed on funding the film and it was eventually funded by two private investors.
The film’s production ran over twenty five days with the crew apparently being so passionate about the project that many of them were underpaid or got no pay at all, with Smith hoping that the film would make enough money that everyone would eventually be paid.
Throughout the months of November and December, teaser posters were released featuring characters from the movie in auctions via his Twitter account with the winning bidder hosting the poster exclusively on their website, while the money raised by the auction went to charity. Smith released a teaser trailer for the film on December 23, 2010.
Although Smith had announced plans to auction off the rights to Red State to distributors attending his Sundance screening of the film, he revealed that was merely a ploy and Smith planned to self-distribute as a traveling roadshow.
Controversy soon erupted after Smith’s speech at the film’s debut screening at Sundance. Although Smith had decided to self-distribute the film, after a twenty minute long rant where he displayed his displeasure with the budget for how modern films are marketed in comparison to the budget for their production.
Smith chose to distribute the film as a travelling roadshow, travelling form theatre to theatre across the USA and airing it to people there and offering a Q and A afterwards. He assumed that the people who would come and watch the film were his fans and therefore hoped they would pay more to watch it stating that he may charge up to ten times as much money as a regular theatre viewing. After making $1,104,682 in the United States, Red State was released internationally and earned another $769,778 internationally for a total worldwide gross of $1,874,460.