This is a little off the beaten online business path (the usual subject area of WebProNews), but this is SXSW. This also happens to be one of my favorite filmmakers and a great film.
Robert Rodriguez took time to speak at SXSW here in his hometown of Austin, about adapting material for movies. In particular he talked about the cult classic Sin City.
On differences in adapting films from different media, Rodriguez said, “It depends on how beloved the material is.”
He reminisced about seeing the script for Sin City in the early 90s, and remembers saying, “Whoever does that is going to screw that up.” He said that he was always a big fan of the Sin City visual style, and that he always knew he would “follow the visual” if he made a Sin City movie.
Later, Rodriguez found himself working with digital photography and 3D technology, with Spy Kids 3D in particular. “Spy kids 3D is why you all have to wear 3D glasses at the movies these days,” he laughed.
He discussed meeting Sin City creator Frank Miller at a bar to show him some test shoots of actors using green screen and visual effects created with Photoshop. Miller was “blown away,” he said.
“I made it very easy for him,” he says, noting that artists often don’t want to get involved in all of the Hollywood stuff.
He just used the source material as the script. “No one got a screenplay credit on it,” he added.
“I don’t consider that writing,” he said, referring to the way he edited the film, simply rearranging scenes, as opposed to writing a new screenplay.
“I just took what I loved about it, and kept his voice and his style…I can’t tell you another book I would adapt that way.”
In looking at the making of this film, it’s important to realize that nothing had ever been done in this style, but it wasn’t much of an issue getting the studio on board. Rodriguez said, “My philosophy with the studio is you don’t ask them for permission. You can ask them if they want to join or not.”
“It’s a Jedi Mind trick,” he said.
He said he didn’t think Sin City would do big business in the theater, but that it would get big later, particularly on DVD.
Rodriguez said he does low budget stuff because if the movie bombs, it will still make its money back. “This had built-in low budget all over it,” he said.
“If I ran out of money at any one point, I just needed to put black behind the actor, and say ‘look it’s still true to the source material.'”