Last month, Kevin Smith launched Spoilers, a Hulu original series devoted to all things film. As Smith explained during a recent interview with Wired, the show is centered around discussions of new theatrical releases, with insights from fans and celebrities alike. A few weeks ago, he sat down for a chat with fellow director Robert Rodriguez, whom Smith described as a true pioneer of independent film.
His career has had an especially profound impact on Smith, who says he was inspired to make Clerks after watching Rodriguez’s feature debut, El Mariachi. The two films belong to two very different genres and aesthetics, but they were produced on similarly sparse budgets. As Smith points out, it was Rodriguez who first proved the viability of making a spartan feature length movie about the environment around you, without any of the camera crews or fancy equipment often associated with Hollywood productions. “When you wanna do anything, you’ve gotta reduce your ‘I need’ list to very little,” Rodriguez explains. “You’ve gotta shrink that down to ‘I need nothing.’ If you can do that, you’re off and running.”
Rodriguez was able to shrink that list down, and before he knew it, El Mariachi had become a sleeper hit. This came as something of a shock to the director, who says he made it as a “throwaway film” — something he could laugh about with his buddies. “My goal was to just go double my money,” he says. “I was only making it as a throwaway film, and it came out better than any of the films I did on purpose… It’s probably the only movie I ever made that I intended no one to see.”
The success of El Mariachi laid the blueprint for an entire generation of independent filmmakers, including both Smith and Quentin Tarantino, Rodriguez’s longtime friend and collaborator. Tarantino and Rodriguez both rose to prominence at around the same time, and have since worked together on a slew of projects, including From Dusk Till Dawn and Sin City. Rodriguez briefly discussed their relationship on Spoilers, recounting some of their directorial exchanges, as well as their small spat with the Directors Guild of America — a disagreement that fueled Rodriguez’s decision to leave the DGA altogether.
It may have been a risky move at the time, but it’s also true to his rebellious nature. As he told Smith, “When you have that moment of pure fear, that’s when you know you’re moving in the right direction.”
The full interview is embedded above. For more episodes of Spoilers, click here.