Kevin Smith, a keen comic book fan, sold a large part of his collection to help fund this film. He has since been able to buy most of them back.
Kevin Smith originally cast himself as Randal, which is why Randal gets some of the best lines.
Jason Reitman has said that this film revealed to him his desire to be a filmmaker. Reitman later told Kevin Smith this, which lead Smith to jokingly quip, "You're the son of Ivan Reitman. You grew up on the sets of Ghostbusters (1984), and Stripes (1981). It took ME to let you know that you can be a director?".
Kevin Smith worked in the store where they shot the film. They shot for 21 straight nights. He would clock in at 6am and finish at 11pm. They would then shoot till 4am, after which he would try to grab an hour or two's sleep before getting ready to go back to work.
Filmed at the same store in which director Kevin Smith was working at the time. As he was only allowed to film outside of business hours, and because bright enough lights couldn't be afforded, the plot included an explanation for the shutters being always down.
Clerks is loosely based on "The Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri hence the name of the protagonist, Dante Hicks. Also, there are nine breaks in the movie to represent the nine rings of hell.
The film's shoestring budget is part of the reason it was shot in black and white. A number of different types of lighting were used, and this would have required a lot of post production to resolve issues related to the varying color temperatures. With black and white, this isn't a problem.
The "RST" in RST Video stands "Rajiv, Sarla, Tarlochen." Those are the first names of the son, mother, and father team who owned (and still own) the video store and the Quick Stop.
Randall and the Happy Scrappy Hero Pup lady are not actually in the room at the same time. Jeff Anderson refused to read the list of porno movies in front of her, and particularly in front of the child (although the reaction shots of the Happy Scrappy Hero Pup lady were obtained by reading the list to her).
The scene where Dante confronts Caitlin about her marriage to an Asian design major in the video store is done in one shot, which lasts for over five minutes. It was shot on the first night of filming.
This is the first film in Kevin Smith's intricately interconnected View Askewniverse series (the others being Dogma (1999), Mallrats (1995), Chasing Amy (1997), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) and Clerks II (2006)). The movies are all linked by characters, themes and events and each contains numerous references to the others.
The "smoker's lung" that the Chewlie's Gum rep slams on the counter is actually a calf's liver thrown in dirt and burned with cigarettes.
Despite having almost no violence in the film (with the exception of the fight between Dante and Randal), it was originally given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA based solely on its graphic dialogue. The film's distributor Miramax hired attorney Alan M. Dershowitz (of the O.J. Simpson defense team) who successfully petitioned the MPAA to lower its rating to R without any cuts.
Kevin Smith raised the film's minuscule $27,000 budget by selling off his comic collection, borrowing $3,000 from his parents and maxing out his credit cards.
According to Kevin Smith in an interview in the book "My First Movie", part of the movie's financing came from an insurance settlement. The settlement was from a car that he and Jason Mewes both drove, that was destroyed in a flood. Jason Mewes had told him there would be a flood, and asked if he could move the car uphill, but Smith didn't trust him.
Jason Mewes (Jay) was so camera shy that during the dance scene with him and Kevin Smith (Silent Bob), everyone had to leave and go into the video store, and just left the camera rolling so that Mewes wouldn't be so nervous.
The anti-smoking sentiment in the film represented Kevin Smith's own viewpoint when he wrote the screenplay. Silent Bob doesn't inhale when he puffs on his cigarette because of this. After filming this movie, he became a two-pack-a-day smoker.
Kevin Smith has said on speaking tours that the reason he cast himself in the movie was that if the movie failed and he was in near-permanent debt for the rest of his life, he could at least point at his face in the movie as proof he did it.
The reason prices end in $.95, $.99, set under a round figure was so that cashiers would always have to open the register to give change, thus recording a sale and preventing them from pocketing the bills.
Of the 50 actors credited, only two had at least one film credit before appearing in this movie (Gary Stern and Mitch Cohen). The other 48 made their first on screen appearance in this movie, most of them would become regular faces in many 'Kevin Smith' (I) films while others would only make this film.
The word 'fuck' and its derivatives are said 91 times throughout the film, mostly between Dante and Jay.
Kevin Smith says that he got his inspiration to be a film maker and make "Clerks." after seeing Richard Linklater's Slacker (1990).
The "Clerks" logo is made out of letters cut from various magazines and food items. The C is from Cosmopolitan Magazine, the L is from Life, the E is from Rolling Stone, the R is from Ruffles potato chips, the K is from Clark Bar and the S is from a Goobers box.
The offended customer in the "jizz mopper" scene is buying paper towels and glass cleaner.
Willem Black was supposed to be a collegiate type, but the original actor for the role, Dan Hapstak, changed his mind and opted out of the role. Scott Mosier was then cast as the role, but since he didn't look collegiate, they reworked the character into an idiot man child.
Kevin Smith directed the music video for Soul Asylum's song, "Can't Even Tell" which closes the film.
One of Kevin Smith's good friends, Walter Flanagan plays four separate roles in Clerks (1994), the egg-obsessed guidance counselor, the cigarette protester who bought the cigarettes immediately after the protest, the customer offended by the lewd "jizz mopper" discussion, and the customer to whom Randal said the resident cat's name was "Annoying Customer."
Although Miramax was already notorious for editing movies without filmmakers consent, the studio did not force Kevin Smith to cut the notorious alternate ending where a robber shoots and kills Dante at the end of his shift. They said they would keep the scene if he wanted it but that it didn't really fit with the rest of the movie. But they publicly stated later on that they were very relieved that Smith decided to get rid of the scene anyway.
Randall watches a porn movie called "The Best of Both Worlds", which is the name of a real series of porn movies. However, the real movies are about bisexuals, not hermaphrodites.
Kevin Smith cast Lisa Spoonauer after seeing her in an acting class at Brookdale Community College, NJ. Afterwards he approached her in the parking lot and asked her "Do you wanna be in a movie?" She replied, "Not if it's porn."
Walter Flanagan, who plays the guy who buys the cigarettes even after the Chewlies Gum Rep does his lecture, is wearing one of Brian O'Halloran's stage beards as a wig.
No cigarette brands are ever named, primarily to avoid lawsuits over royalty payments.
While Randal (Jeff Anderson) was telling Dante about his cousin Walter breaking his neck attempting auto fellatio, when Dante asked if Walter made it and Randal said yeah, Anderson almost forgot the next line ("Balls resting on [Walter's] lips"). They decided not to redo the scene to make it so Randal was sympathetic about his cousin's death.
When Dante is saying how eerie it is that all prices end in the number 9, there are in fact no items in the shot that end in the number 9, there are items at $1.95, $1.65, $2.08, $1.68 and 5 cents.
The "Dave's Fruit Pies" sold at the mart are actually Hostess Fruit Pies with the word Hostess blocked out and "Dave's" put in its place.
The film was never dubbed into German, an extremely rare occurrence for German audiences. The DVD and Blu-ray release feature German subtitles, though.
A Miramax employee read the screenplay to determine if the company wished to pick up the film for distribution. The reader came to the scene where Dante, angry over his girlfriend's sexual past, yells at an oblivious customer "My girlfriend sucked 37 dicks!" and the customer curiously says "In a row?" He laughed so hard that he stopped reading the script. He immediately visited the Vice President of Production and had him read the scene too. The VP green-lit the film for buying approval by Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein on the spot.
When Dante & Randall are discussing the death of Julie Dwyer, Dante asks when Julie Dwyer died & Randall answers "Yesterday". When they are going to Julie Dwyer's wake, Randall states that it is (presently) 4 o'clock on Saturday (so she would have died on Friday). In Mallrats (1995), a reference is made to Julie Dwyer dying "yesterday". Mallrats takes place on Friday.
In Snowball Effect. The Story of Clerks (2004) on the special edition DVD, Kevin Smith says that the film's original title was "Inconvenience". Then it was changed to "Rude Clerks" before being shortened to Clerks (1994).
The role of Dante was written for Ernest O'Donnell, but Kevin Smith felt he wasn't quite right and also the fact that he did not learn his lines for the audition and cast him as Rick Derris instead.
Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier attended the Vancouver Film School, British Columbia, Canada and made a pact that whichever of them first started directing a movie, the other would produce. Smith created his film first, and Mosier produced it, as he has all of Smith's films.
Director Kevin Smith's childhood friend Walter Flanagan appears in several different roles. Due to this, Smith later said that Flanagan was the Lon Chaney of the '90s.
Dante says "I'm not even supposed to be here today" 5 times. He also says 2 similar things 1 time each: "No, I don't work today" and "Yeah, I know I'm not scheduled today."
Kevin Smith has stated on multiple occasions that the character Dante is based on himself and Randal is based on his Comic Book Men co-star Bryan Johnson
When Jeff Anderson (Randal) auditioned, he read Jay's lines because he had nothing else to use (the actors were allowed to bring in a separate dialogue to read instead of the script).
There are at least two different versions of the scene where Randall is ordering a video for the woman with her little girl. The two versions have two distinctly different voices for the little girl when she says "Happy Scrappy"
Picked by Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Independent Films" in a special supplement devoted to independent films that was only distributed to subscribers in November 1997.
Vincent Pereira originally had a scene in which Randal (Jeff Anderson) talks to a clerk at Big Choice Video, a perfect clerk, but the sound machine gave way in the middle of the take and they had to scrap the scene. Sound survives up until that point.
Silent Bob is not so silent. In Clerks (1994) and Mallrats (1995), he speaks only once, but in Dogma (1999), he speaks twice. In Chasing Amy (1997) he has quite a long speech while in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), he becomes almost chatty.
Dante wears a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey during the hockey game, playing against opponents wearing New Jersey Devils jerseys. Randal wears a USSR (CCCP) jersey during the game, but wears a New Jersey Devils hat.
Brian O'Halloran (Dante Hicks), Jeff Anderson (Randal Graves), Jason Mewes (Jay), Kevin Smith (Silent Bob) and Grace Smith (Milk Maid) are the only actors to reprise their roles in Clerks II (2006).
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Dante Hicks takes his name from Dante Alighieri, the author of "The Divine Comedy", also known as "Dante's inferno". Clerks can be seen as something of an adaptation of Dante's Inferno, since there are nine breaks in the movie to represent the nine rings of hell.
Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
Where Dante changes the light bulb is at the same spot where Becky from Clerks II puts in the light bulb.
The movie was named as one of "The 20 Most Overrated Movies Of All Time" by Premiere.
In 2014, indie filmmakers Christopher Downie and Brett Murray shot a biopic based on Kevin's early life as well as the making of Clerks, which reunited almost all of the cast - albeit in different roles. Principle photography was carried out in the UK, while most of the exteriors were shot in New Jersey, under the supervision of US producer, James Noir. Noir also managed to recruit additional Clerks stars while picking up various establishing shots in Leonardo, NJ, most of which were due to happenstance.
The Weekly World News magazine displayed for sale in the convenience store with the cover "World's Fattest Man Weds Tiniest Woman" was the April 20, 1993 issue.
In the final scene we see Dante leaning on a newspaper rack. The tabloid headline reads "Worlds fattest man weds tiniest woman".
After they find the dead old man, they put both Caitlin and the dead man in the ambulance. There are Four mistakes in this scene. First, it is illegal in the State of NJ to transport an already deceased person in an ambulance. Second, Caitlin was not secured or seat belted in for safety. Third, there was no attending EMT or paramedic in the back of the ambulance, which is also required when transporting a patient. The final mistake was leaving the scene with lights and sirens. The patient (Caitlin) was not in any immediate danger, so going "code 3" would not have been necessary.
The hat Jay is wearing while stealing the donuts during the roofer's story is a San Jose Sharks hat. The Sharks are an NHL team.