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– by Stephon White

Rebel Without A Crew is a show you should watch if you’ve ever found yourself wondering what sacrifices and behind-the-scenes work go into bringing a movie to life. Hosted by the original Rebel Without A Crew Robert Rodriguez, the series serves up spoonfuls of inspiration. Rodriguez serves as a mentor for the group assembled before him. As Rodriguez explains it, he has personally selected each passionate indie filmmaker himself. They must follow in Rodriguez’ footsteps, creating a low budget film on a $7,000 budget. As a consolation, their films will air at South By Southwest, a gathering point for indie and mainstream artists from around the world. What better venue is there to debut your first successful low budget film?

If you’re a casual or serious filmmaker you may have heard about or even read Robert Rodriguez’s 1995 book, Rebel Without A Crew. In it, Rodriguez chronicles how he jumpstarted his early film career. There’s even a bit in a chapter covering how he raised a budget volunteering for medical trials. Thankfully, those days are long behind him. From El Mariachi to Alita: Battle Angel, the man has had a stellar career. The crew and viewers will clearly be inspired by Rodriguez’s faith in the young filmmakers. The kinetic personalities of the filmmakers are a definite bonus as we watch them scramble to make their final films. Housed under one roof doubling as a production location, things are sure to get more arresting as the series steams forward.

As a casual filmmaker myself, seeing Rodriguez champion this group of unknowns is inspiring. Desperado was part of my regular DVD rotation back in 1997. So, having seen his stature as a filmmaker grow to epic heights to co-direct Sin City alongside the visionary comic book writer and artist Frank Miller and even be on the precipice of releasing the long-awaited Alita: Battle Angel is amazing. Rodriguez even produced Predators, one of the stronger follow-ups to the series about the Rastafarian human-hunting aliens from space. The guy is clearly passionate about this show and more importantly passionate to see these young filmmakers succeed.

Now that I am done geeking out over this series, it’s time I drop a little criticism. This series is squarely aimed at followers of Rodriguez, so much that it’s named after his goshdarn book. Maybe that’s why I found myself so drawn into the episodes. I mean here is the guy that donated his body to science all in the name of funding his very first movie, and he lived to tell about it. Maybe those scientists gave him a super serum that imbued his DNA with the magical powers of filmmaking, but its more likely he’s got a gift. That’s part of the charm here watching a gifted filmmaker like Rodriguez benevolently funding these indie films and stoking the creative fires of the directors who are clearly Rodriguez fans.

This series moved along briskly enough that it reeled me along, but I do wish the episodes were a bit longer. How can you be mad at a series where each episode barely clocks over twenty minutes? When the series has interesting characters that you’d like to hang around just a little while longer. That’s when. Check it out if you’re a fan of Rodriguez or the spirit of filmmaking. Hopefully, El Rey Network will drop some exclusive content onto the web for fans to follow their favorite character a little more closely.

Rebel Without A Crew airs on El Rey Network on Sundays starting on November 18!

Grade: B

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