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Sundance: Kevin Smith Sells "Red State" to...Kevin Smith

Director Kevin Smith addresses the audience after the premiere of his film "Red State" during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011.
AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
Director Kevin Smith addresses the audience after the premiere of his film "Red State" during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011.
AP Photo

NEW YORK (CBS) Let's be honest: Kevin Smith has always been better at marketing Kevin Smith than he is at making films. Sure, he's come a long way in terms of production quality. How could he not when his debut film is "Clerks"?

PICTURES: 2011 Sundance Film Festival

(Read on to see Smith's "demonstration" at Sundance.)

Smith's films exist to push the Kevin Smith brand. He's funnier when he's talking about his life - marriage, family, kid - than any of his films are. The guy has a hilarious podcast and more than 1.7 million followers on Twitter. Who needs his movies?

Judging from what he did this weekend at Sundance, he may be ready to build on that fan base to promote his movies.

It should be no surprise then that most of the words being written about Smith Monday are not about his new film "Red State," but about the stunt he pulled at the "Red State" Sundance screening Sunday. According to the New York Times, Smith created buzz about the film in December because he said he wouldn't talk to the press about the movie before the Park City, Utah, festival. Sundance is the festival that made him, after all. Why not use it as a platform?

Word then got out that he was going to auction off the film instead of looking for a distributor. Then he gave a "profanity-laced speech Sunday" (does he give any other kind of speech?) and following said speech auctioned the movie off for $20. To himself. (He probably overpaid by $10.)

Smith said he'll distribute the movie himself starting with screenings in 15 cities. He said the first will be in New York on March 5, 2011.

The Times reports that Smith declared this move the start of "Indie 2.0." It might just work. Smith has a rabid fan base. Those Twitter followers? Definitely going to the movie. Fat guys in basements who dream of being filmmakers? Definitely going to the movie.

If the content of "Red State" matters, it's been described as a bloody "comedy-drama-horror mishmash" that stars veteran character actor Michael Parks as a pastor in a not-so-subtle dig at the Westboro Baptist Church. The Times reports that members of the gay-hating Kansas church showed up at Sundance to protest and Smith successfully exploited the fracas, publicity-wise.

Smith, the self-described "fat, masturbating stoner," is an indie powerhouse and he's playing to his base. Smart move, and smarter still is that he's doing it at Sundance where he got his start.