Last week at SXSW, the new Robert Rodriguez TV series Rebel Without a Crew (inspired by his book of the same name) launched at a special press event featuring Rodriguez and the five young directors who have taken part in the series.
The series coincides with the 25th anniversary of Rodriguez’s groundbreaking film El Mariachi, which he made for just $7,000 without a crew, across just 14 days of filming. In the show, Rodriguez gives five independent directors the same amount of time, and the same amount of money (notably this has not been adjusted for inflation), alongside a few advantages of having the legendary director involved (gear, costumes etc.), to make a brand-new feature film. The show, which streams every Monday, documents their experiences.
At the press event – which was filmed for a later episode in the series – Rodriguez talked about the importance of mentoring and inspiring the new wave of independent filmmakers, by “throwing them in the deep end”, saying that if you do they, “they learn to swim”, which is as much a life lesson as a lesson in filmmaking.
Rodriguez reflected on his past experiences making El Mariachi, and what he hopes the experience will provide to the filmmakers, “I basically made my own film school (when making El Mariachi). It made all my experiences later so much better, because I understood the crew, and the challenges they’d face.”
“(Through that experience I learnt that) if you had an idea for a movie, and you have no money, you can do it… you learn it, and you’ll be surprised what you know. If you can write a script you can operate the camera in a way that’s unique, and edit it in a way that’s unique. You end up coming up with ideas that are really creative because you don’t have the money. I hope this (experience) will give them something to take into their future filmmaking (as it did for me).”
And what’s most important about it all was that in spite of all the challenges, “They got to make the films they wanted to make”, just as he did. And those films premiered at SXSW shortly after the press event. Though everyone else will have to wait a little longer before they have the chance to experience the five films for themselves.
Audiences in Australia can watch the series on Tumblr, while in the US you can also watch it on go90 and the El Ray Network, Rodriguez’s own Television network. The first episode, which debuted on March 19th, introduces us to the filmmakers who are taking part in the project, and there’ll be new episodes every Monday (US time). Head to Tumblr now to check it out.
And given that they repeatedly referred to this as the “first season”, don’t expect this to be the only time that Rodriguez sets out to inspire a new generation of filmmakers…