Robert Rodriguez (@Rodriguez) is a film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor, and musician. He is also the founder and chairman of El Rey Network, the new genre-busting English-language cable network.
While a student at the University of Texas at Austin in 1991, Rodriguez wrote the script for his first feature film while he was a paid subject in a clinical experiment at a drug research facility. That paycheck covered the cost of shooting his film.
The film, “El Mariachi,” went on to win the coveted Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and became the lowest budget movie ever released by a major studio. Rodriguez wrote about these experiences in Rebel Without a Crew, a perennial guide for the independent filmmaker.
Rodriguez went on to write, produce, and direct a series of successful films including, Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, the Spy Kids franchise, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Frank Miller’s Sin City, and Machete, among many others.
I hope you find listening to this episode as enjoyable as it was to record.
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Want to hear another podcast with another award-winning movie maker? — Listen to my conversation with Brian Koppelman, co-writer/producer of Rounders, The Illusionist & Ocean’s Thirteen. In this episode, we explore how he got started, how he handles rejection, his big breaks, his creative process, and much more.
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and what was the result? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- View more about the Directors Chair episodes here
- Robert’s first movie, El Mariachi, and production company Los Hooligans Productions
- The making of El mariachi – Rebel without a Crew
- More information about Bedhead – the short film Robert made before El Mariachi
- More information about Troublemaker Studios
- Check out the movie Sin City
- Check out the movie Desperado
- Simon Sinek – Start with Why
- Cooking School: Texas BBQ | Sin City Breakfast Tacos
- Robert’s TV Network El Rey
- Connect with Robert
- How does Robert go about journaling? [05:04]
- How does Robert keep moral high when working with a crew? [13:29]
- Being creative on set [14:31]
- “What clicked” that allowed Robert to be truly creative [15:57]
- Embracing the creative process “in the moment” [19:28]
- The amazing story of how El Mariachi was financed? [21:41]
- What was the story behind El Mariachi getting released by Columbia? [24:45]
- How to maintain the creative mindset once resources are no longer a creative driver [35:22]
- How cartooning helped creative endeavors? [39:53]
- The strange reason Robert changed the name of his production company to Troublemaker Studios [44:11]
- What book does Robert most frequently gift to other people? [55:35]
- The Directors Guild, Frank Miller, Sin City & the ‘Special Guest Director’ [57:41]
- Why setting precedents are important [1:09:59]
- How Robert spends his downtime [1:14:38]
- Why was Robert so keen to make the movie Sin City? [1:19:54]
- What does the first 60 minutes of Roberts’ day look like? [1:26:29]
- Robert’s TV network, El Rey [1:32:52]
- What is Robert geeking out on right now? [1:51:56]
- Tips for early stage filmmakers [1:54:37]
- What advice does Robert have for his 30-year-old self? [1:58:39]
- Robert’s one request of you, the listener. [2:01:07]
- Francis Ford Coppola
- Quentin Tarantino
- Jim Cameron
- Michael Mann
- Robert Newman
- Antonio Banderas
- Jack Ma
- John Carpenter
- Winston Churchill
- Simon Sinek
- Frank Miller
- George Lucas
- Bruce Willis
- Benicio del Toro
- Robert De Niro
- George Miller
- General Stan McChrystal
- Johnny Depp
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