Shot entirely in black and white, Clerks is the first of Smith's View Askewniverse films, and introduces several recurring characters, notably Jay and Silent Bob, the latter played by Smith himself. The structure of the movie contains nine scene breaks, signifying the nine rings of hell as in Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, from which the main character, Dante, derives his name.
Clerks was shot for $27,575 in the convenience and video stores where director Kevin Smith worked in real life. Upon its theatrical release, the film grossed over $3 million in theaters, launching Smith's career.
Dante's day is spent in the purgatory of serving a succession of customers while repeating the fact that he is "not even supposed to be here today".
Stressed with the demands of his job, Dante passes time in wide-ranging conversations with his best friend, Randal Graves. Randal is an irresponsible slacker who works in the next-door video store, RST Video, although he spends most of the entire day at the Quick Stop. They converse about many things to pass time, such as whether or not the contractors working on the second Death Star when it was destroyed at the end of Return of the Jedi were innocent victims.