Robert Rodriguez Has Returned to His Rebellious Roots

Hot of the heels of directing Alita: Battle Angel, the best Hollywood manga adaptation to date, Robert Rodriguez is already back at work. Well, technically, he was moonlighting as a micro-budget horror filmmaker while he was making the James Cameron-produced blockbuster. Basically, he’s finally just getting around to promoting that side project while Alita is still playing in theaters. The good news for us, though, is that this new movie is imminent and premiering at this year’s SXSW festival.

Collider also recently shared the poster for Red 11. The film is a sci-fi horror tale that the director made for a mere $7000, which is similar to the budget he had for his 1992 debut, El Mariachi. That’s pocket change compared to Alita: Battle Angel, but Rodriguez can stretch a budget better than most and doesn’t need millions of dollars to make magic happen. Apparently, this movie has been 25 years in the making as well.

The story, which is partly inspired by Rodriguez’s own experience as a lab rat back in his younger days, takes place in a more twisted version of the Legal Drug Research world and the experiments that go on there. Little else is known about said experiments, but knowing Rodriguez’s penchant for demented concepts, this premise will inspire some truly horrifying treats.

Still, for a filmmaker as firmly established as Rodriguez, what inspired him to follow up a blockbuster with something so low-budget? Well, according to an interview with the Austin Chronicle, the director wanted to prove that he could make a micro-budget movie at the same time he was working on his biggest project to date.

“It’s the opposite of my El Mariachi days. [Then] I had a lot of time but I had no money, because I was a college student. Now I could go make the movie for a larger budget, but what I didn’t have was time. It was a struggle, but I thought, hey, it would be good for me to do it, because this is the worst time to do this movie – but that’s just how life is.”

He continued:

“You’re never going to have time. You’re never going to be ready. [But] it reminds me of what the beauty of making these super-low-budget films is: You’re building and designing the story, but while you do it, you’re building your own life story.”

Furthermore, the experience was documented for a docu-series called Rebel Without a Crew: The Robert Rodriguez Film School, which consists of six 30-minute episodes. Much like his filmmaking guidebook book Rebel Without a Crew before it, the docu-series could also inspire a generation of independent filmmakers. One of the coolest things about Rodriguez is that he’s always sharing his wisdom and knowledge with fans and aspiring filmmakers. In addition to his book, home media releases of his movies sometimes contain a 10-minute film school, where he showcased some of his techniques. Red 11 and its accompanying documentary series is just another way for Rodriguez to inspire budding creators.

Of course, this is also another example of the fascinating unpredictability that’s defined Rodriguez’s career thus far. Since bursting onto the scene with El Mariachi and subsequently defining himself as an exciting genre filmmaker, he’s made several kids’ movies (one of which his kid actually co-wrote with him), whilst simultaneously trying to bring grindhouse fare to the masses. In between those outings, he also found time to make a couple of Sin City comic book movies, start a TV network, and direct a movie that won’t be released until long after we’re all dead. You can never really predict what he’s going to do next.

That said, it’s great to see the Rebel Without a Crew returning to his DIY roots. Clearly, he’s a guy who loves making movies, and he continues to defy expectations after all these years. That said, now that he’s proven himself on the grand stage and people have responded quite positively to Alita, perhaps he’ll be more inclined to take on more massive projects going forward. I hope he always makes low-budget genre flicks, but he deserves to do it all.

Kieran Fisher: @HairEverywhere_ Kieran is a Daily Curator for the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.