Robert Rodriguez on the “Profound Experience” of Making a Film for $7,000 Again with ‘Red 11’

     March 15, 2019

A little over twenty-five years ago, Robert Rodriguez burst on the scene with his almost no-budget debut film, El Mariachi. Made for only $7,000, Rodriguez used every shortcut he could think of to make his movie, including raising some of the money by signing up for medical experiments. He actually documented the experience in his widely read book, Rebel Without a Crew, which showed everyone how you could make a movie for almost no money.


Image via SXSW

When the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film hit, Rodriguez decided to make another $7,000 film using the notes he wrote while in the Medical Research Facility, and documenting the process on video for the digital age. The result were two films that premiered a few days ago at SXSW: Red 11 (the small-budget movie) and The Robert Rodriguez Film School (which is a six episode docuseries, running 135 minutes, exploring how they did it). If you’re someone who has always wanted to make a movie with no money, Rodriguez wants to show you how to hack the system.

Shortly before the world premieres, Robert Rodriguez stopped by the Collider Studio at SXSW to talk about the projects. During the wide-ranging interview, he spoke about where the idea came from, the importance of refusing to spend money, the “profound experience” of going back and making a film with $7,000 again, and how Red 11 is inspired by what happened to him. Plus, why he wanted to make a new movie for that low cost and then document the process digitally, how creativity dominates when resources are stripped away, and so much more.

In addition, he played “Get To Know Your SXSW Attendee,” which includes a number of questions like what TV show he’d like to guest-star on, what he collects, what’s his favorite fantasy or sci-fi movie, what film scared him as a kid, his first movie or TV show crush, if he prefers Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, and a lot of other fun stuff.

super-suite-austin-hint-blue-moonFinally, I’d also like to take a moment to give special thanks to our Collider Studio partner, A-List Communications. At the Supper Suite venue in Austin, libations were flowing courtesy of El Tesoro Tequila, Blue Moon Belgian White, and Hint Water. Without these fine folks, we wouldn’t be able to share conversations about movies like Red 11 with all of you, so another big thank you to our partners for their support.

Robert Rodriguez:

  • How Alita had a big response around the world.
  • The importance of the Chinese box office.
  • How to raise money to make his first film he signed up for medical experiments. He goes into detail on what he actually did.
  • What Red 11 is about and how the character is based on what happened to him.
  • Why he wanted to make a new movie for seven thousand dollars and then document the process with a documentary for the digital age.
  • What camera did they use for Red 11?
  • On the importance of refusing to spend.
  • Talks about the “profound experience” of going back and making a film with $7,000 again.
  • red-11-movie

    Image via SXSW

    How he repeated the rules he did on his TV show and first film which is a 14 day shoot, one helper and seven thousand dollars.

  • How if resources are stripped away creativity dominates.
  • What’s the distribution plan for the film and docu series?
  • Was he thinking about budget when they were writing the script?
  • What TV show would he like to guest write and direct?
  • Does he have a favorite sci-fi or fantasy film?
  • Favorite superhero movie.
  • What film scared him as a kid?
  • What does he collect?
  • First movie or TV show crush.
  • Does he have a favorite movie prop?
  • What’s the background photo on his phone?
  • What TV show or movie has he watched more than once?
  • Star Wars or Star Trek?
  • Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad?
  • Han Solo or Indiana Jones?
  • Talks about how Han Solo’s death changed his feelings towards the character.


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