For well over two decades Robert Rodriguez has been an inspiration for young, broke filmmakers hoping to cobble together a feature length film in their own backyard on their own dime. The incomparably talented writer-director-producer-cinematographer-soundman broke onto the scene in 1992 (the same year as his longtime friend and collaborating partner, Quentin Tarantino) with his dusty gangster flick, “El Mariachi,” which he shot all by himself on the super cheap. Looking back at the paltry $7,000 Rodriguez filmed the movie for, the figure is impressive even today — most noticeably for the fact that roughly $6,400 was spent on film alone. While inflation has risen in the years since, so too have young filmmakers’ abilities to actually make a film. Most everyone carries a high resolution camera in their pocket. No matter how you cut it, Rodriguez was a pioneer, a director who revolutionized independent film, and one who continues to push boundaries.
In recent years Rodriguez has been in something of a slump, pumping out sequel after sequel. Last year brought the pallid and lifeless “Sin City: A Dame To Kill For,” the year before that saw the limp-camp actioner “Machete Kills,” and two years before that the unwanted “Spy Kids: All The Time In The World 4D” disappeared to DVD. Unlike most sequel directors though, Rodriguez can claim that he is only finishing what he’s started, toying out narratives from characters he created and worlds he built. The question is now, where will he go from here?
Sitting down for a one-hour chat with Nerdist, the director covers everything under his career sun: his new television network, El Rey Network — which is partially based around discovering talented new filmmakers — his intentional and unintentional indie innovations, and — what’s that? — another $7,000 film in the pipe for next year. At the moment, the project seems to be in the preliminary stages, but the idea is to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “El Mariachi” and document the entire process to show aspiring directors what can be done with today’s technology.
All in all it’s a fascinating talk, and it’s not the only one: Rodriguez is clearly doing the podcast rounds, as he’s also followed in the footsteps of President Barack Obama and appeared on Marc Maron‘s WTF this week. No matter your feelings on his recent output, Rodriguez, unlike so many others, has cut his own path in the film industry, and helped to revolutionize it in the process. Listen to both interviews below and let us know what you think in the comments.