An Insightful Interview with Indie Film Legend Robert Rodriguez

Robert Rodriguez needs no introduction around these parts.

Between his numerous feature films and his TV network, he's been very prolific, and he's one of the more inspirational figures in the world of indie filmmaking. Despite his fantastic book, Rebel Without a Crew, and his numerous educational programs, his recent appearance on the Tim Ferriss show might have some of his best filmmaking wisdom yet.

In case you're not familiar with the show, Tim Ferriss, who has written a number of books including The 4-Hour Workweek, interviews world-class performers — everybody from chess prodigies and artists, to angel investors and entrepreneurs — and attempts to deconstruct the habits and strategies that make these people remarkable in their chosen fields.

So without any further ado, here's the rather lengthy interview with Tim and Robert (you might want to put it on in the background):

While I wholeheartedly recommend listening to the interview in its entirety — Tim asks some fantastic unconventional questions and Robert is tremendously insightful and willing to share every bit of his personal journey — you can skip around to certain topics and questions based on the list below:

  • How does Robert go about journaling? [05:04]
  • How does Robert keep moral high when working with a crew? [13:29]
  • Being creative on set [14:31]
  • “What clicked” that allowed Robert to be truly creative [15:57]
  • Embracing the creative process “in the moment” [19:28]
  • The amazing story of how El Mariachi was financed? [21:41]
  • What was the story behind El Mariachi getting released by Columbia? [24:45]
  • How to maintain the creative mindset once resources are no longer a creative driver [35:22]
  • How cartooning helped creative endeavors? [39:53]
  • The strange reason Robert changed the name of his production company to Troublemaker Studios [44:11]
  • What book does Robert most frequently gift to other people? [55:35]
  • The Directors Guild, Frank Miller, Sin City & the ‘Special Guest Director’ [57:41]
  • Why setting precedents are important [1:09:59]
  • How Robert spends his downtime [1:14:38]
  • Why was Robert so keen to make the movie Sin City? [1:19:54]
  • What does the first 60 minutes of Roberts’ day look like? [1:26:29]
  • Robert’s TV network, El Rey [1:32:52]
  • What is Robert geeking out on right now? [1:51:56]
  • Tips for early stage filmmakers [1:54:37]
  • What advice does Robert have for his 30-year-old self? [1:58:39]
  • Robert’s one request of you, the listener. [2:01:07]

If you're interested in any of the resources mentioned in the interview, you can find a wealth of links over on Tim's blog. You can even download a full transcript of the interview.     

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Your Comment


Thanks for the link. I wonder, what are your favorite podcasts for filmmakers?

August 24, 2015 at 1:48PM


I second this question! I just got into podcasts, I feel like I found a pot of gold, but I'm not sure where everything is.

August 24, 2015 at 8:16PM, Edited August 24, 8:16PM


Some that I like: Respect the Process (about commercial filmmaking), some old podcasts from the 2007-2009 tribeca film festivals (search "meet the filmmaker," maybe), The Moment with Brian Koppelman (esp. the ones he did with filmmakers when it was still on grantland), austin film festival's on story podcast.

Also WTF, Fresh Air, Here's the Thing with Alec Baldwin, and The Nerdist (the last 4 are listed in descending order of my preference, and are all not film-specific but feature lots of episodes with directors/actors/etc.)

August 24, 2015 at 9:39PM

Jonathan Mayer

Podcasts I listen to about film making:

- ExtraShot (This one is my favorite)
- Scriptcast (Not many new episodes but a great collection of older episodes)
- Making Film With (No new episodes, but a solid collection of interviews from 2011. I just found this one.)
- How Did This Get Made (this is more of a comedy podcast that discusses awful movies)

I'm sure there are many more, but it's a challenge locating the hidden treasures on iTunes. I'll definitely check out some of the podcasts mentioned here. Hopefully more people will chime in with their favorites...

August 25, 2015 at 11:20AM, Edited August 25, 11:20AM


Scriptnotes with John August and Craig Mazin - mainly about writing, but they do touch on the filmmaking process from a writer's perspective.
Brett Easton Ellis Podcast - half of these are with filmmakers, from Alex Ross Perry to Joe Swanberg to Sean Baker. BEE has a tendency to waffle on about his own sometimes esoteric social concerns, but he's also very film-savvy and the interviews are very informative and devoid of BS.
DP30 (YouTube) - not a podcast but you can convert them easily enough. There are literally hundreds of these, all fantastic.

As per Jonathan Mayer, Austin's On Story is worth checking out too.

August 25, 2015 at 12:21AM

Jon Mills

My personal favorites are Scriptnotes w/ John August and Craig Mazin and The Q&A w/ Jeff Goldsmith.

August 25, 2015 at 12:16PM

Avery Maycock
Writer, Director

I really enjoyed 'Rebel without a Crew'. His early stories show an amazing amount of passion and dedication to learning every thing about film making. I still find it amazing that he raised a small amount of money by participating in a clinical trial to make El mariachi. I haven't seen many of his recent movies, but would love to read another book by him. Perhaps 'Rebel-ish with a Big Crew'.

August 24, 2015 at 2:02PM


Robert Rodriguez definitely inspired me to go out and make movies. I read his book "Rebel without a Crew" when I was making my first film "Space Trucker Bruce" (YouTube). It was inspiring and motivating and even a little bit technically helpful. I tried his wheelchair dolly in my hallway scene.

August 26, 2015 at 2:05PM

Anton Doiron

The Movie Crypt podcast is good. If you want to know more about sound design check out the Tonebenders podcast.

August 28, 2015 at 9:34AM

chip brandstetter
Filmmaker, Editor, Animator, Sound Design, Composer

Love Rodriguez. Check out this other interview How to Build a Filmmaking Empire:

October 4, 2015 at 9:10AM

Alex Ferrari
Director / Producer