It’s now been over 20 years since Robert Rodríguez showed the world exactly how much money it takes to make an indie film sensation, win awards at Sundance, and earn yourself a lucrative contract with a major Hollywood studio. The sum was $7,000 and the film was his debut feature, El Mariachi, and American independent cinema hasn’t been the same since.
Sure, Rodríguez has gone on to direct big-budget behemoths like the Spy Kids franchise and his two Sin City films, but in his heart of hearts, the San Antonio native is as no-budget and independent as he’s ever been. So much so, in fact, that during a recent appearance on the Nerdist podcast he revealed that he’s decided to celebrate the upcoming 25th anniversary of El Mariachi by directing another film for $7,000.
Yes, that sounds pretty nuts for an A-list director who’s savored budgets in excess of $150 million, but Rodríguez is a Hollywood renegade through and through. Not to mention the fact that he can easily recruit the likes of George Clooney and Salma Hayek for his project without the typical multi-million dollar payday. But that’s not the point. The point is that with a good idea, some talented friends, and a camera, you can still make a masterpiece for $7,000 in 2015.
To boot, he’s conceived the project as a sort of no-budget DIY filmmaking manual for aspiring auteurs, and will be hiring a small production crew to document the process every step of the way. Let’s just hope Robertico’s still got it, because with the abundance of digital technologies, the challenge should be easier than ever. Although it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get the man an inflation calculator – $7,000 in 1992 is worth about $12,000 today. Just sayin’, $5,000 extra bucks couldn’t hurt.