Ever since the success of his film El Mariachi (1992), Robert Rodriguez has been on the forefront of an unorthodox approach to filmmaking. Whether it’s shooting a feature with a shoestring budget or big, he still maintains sole creative output without the influence of any production company, studio, or even a network. He’s provided countless examples throughout his career on how to make films with independence and creative control. He even managed to launch the fantastic television network, El Rey, curating the content from what he’s described as his dream come true; to have his own channel and use the platform as a vehicle to show new content.
His independent work on El Mariachi was documented in his book, Rebel Without a Crew, when he describes how film director Harold Becker (Sea of Love, Al Pacino) crossed paths with him in an editing suite to screen tests for Malice (1993). “He asked what I was doing and I told him all about Mariachi. As his assistant editor cut, he would come over and watch some of Mariachi. He told his assistant, ‘This is more interesting over here.’ I told him how the actors learned one line at a time and then forgot about them and by not having a crew I was able to get all my setups in fourteen days for $7,000.” Rodriguez continued to explain. “He said, ‘That’s great, but don’t ever do that again.’ I told him a few more tricks I used and he finally said, ‘Maybe we’re working too hard.’” Robert Rodriguez was 23 years old during the making of Mariachi. He always pushed the boundaries of creativity and figured out a way to get something done no matter the circumstances.
In a recent interview with Empire Magazine, when asked about his interests prior to working on Alita: Battle Angel, “I was looking for titles that were interesting. A lot of them you’d come up against and go, ‘That’s an interesting idea to do, but why don’t I just go and create my own version of that genre? Rather than try to revitalize someone’s property, why not go and make my own property?’” Rodriguez said. “Don’t go do one of their properties that you don’t own. Go do something similar and make it your own. That’s real power.’” Robert Rodriguez went onto explain how George Lucas couldn’t get the rights to make Flash Gordon which inspired him to create Star Wars. Instead of obtaining rights to someone else’s work, he created his own franchise. Robert Rodriguez is currently in post-production on his Netflix film We Can Be Heroes, a superhero film about aliens invading earth, starring Christian Slater (True Romance, Broken Arrow).