Robert Rodriguez is currently juggling work on two buzzy feature projects, the sequels to 2005’s Sin City and 2010’s Machete, but he’s also in the midst of putting together a smaller project, a short film called Two Scoops – which is getting plenty of buzz of its own for its innovative ways of inviting fans to participate in its making.
The short film is one of BlackBerry’s Keep Moving projects, which all have celebrities like Neil Gaiman and Alicia Keys collaborating with their fans. When the phone company contacted Rodriguez and asked him to come up with a project to promote their BlackBerry Z10, the Texas-based filmmaker was immediately interested.
“They’d heard about my studio, [Troublemaker], and how I was a real do-it-yourself type,” Rodriguez told EW. “Their whole thing was about ‘keep moving’ and using technology to be creative on-the-spot. I said, ‘Oh, that sounds like a great fit.’”
So Rodriguez created Project Green Screen, which invites actors and artists to submit entries that will be used in Two Scoops.
“I get tweets and Facebook postings all the time, people saying, ‘Hey, put me in your movie,’ or ‘Hey, can I come work on your movie?’ So this is the chance to say ‘yes,’” Rodriguez explained.
Two Scoops tells the story of two sisters who serve ice cream by day and slay monsters by night. The stakes for their nighttime adventures rise when their agent assigns them to hunt down the monster that captured their father.
Fans are invited to participate in multiple ways on the project. For Act 1, aspiring actors can submit a video of themselves as the agent that appears on a screen in the sisters’ ice cream truck. For Act 2, Rodriguez is calling on artists to send in drawings or descriptions of the weapon used to defeat the monster. For Act 3, fans can submit ideas for the design of the monster that the girls encounter. Rodriguez’s visual effects company, Troublemaker Digital, will then incorporate the agent video into the film and use Act 2 and 3 submissions as concept art when creating the weapon and monster.
The deadline for Act 1 entries is today; Rodriguez will soon post instructions for Act 2 submissions on the project’s official website.
“Getting to work with the audience is really exhilarating, just to see the enthusiasm people have, how far they’ll go,” Rodriguez said. “Some of them have been getting themselves really dressed up and lit very well and added some homemade special effects in the background.”
But Rodriguez emphasizes that the video with the highest production value isn’t necessarily the one that will win.
“Sometimes it’s just a great performance. I’m looking at what works really great with the girls either with them or kind of counter-acting to them,” he said. “And for the creature and weapon, it’s really idea-based, so if you don’t draw that well but you have an interesting idea and it comes across in whatever way, then send it. It can be a collage or Photoshop or something you make out of cardboard or hand puppets – it doesn’t matter. I’m just looking for whatever idea is most interesting and most different and something we haven’t seen before.”
Rodriguez’s emphasis on the importance of the idea is something that he’s valued since his first feature, El Mariachi, which was made with just $7,000. The Spanish-language film found success when Columbia Pictures picked up the rights after it won the Audience Award at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival.
“Originally I didn’t want Mariachi to be released because I really made it as a practice film. That’s why it was so inexpensive,” Rodriguez said. “I learned a lot from that. I learned that a movie doesn’t have to be a big production. It’s really what moves the audience. The audience ended up liking it, and it won a bunch of festival awards. So I learned a really valuable lesson back then which is don’t underestimate the power of storytelling.”
Two Scoops, which Rodriguez shot in February right after wrapping production on Sin City 2, will be released mid-May. The film will be available to view on BlackBerry’s Keep Moving website. Instructions for how to participate in the making of Two Scoops are on the website for Project Green Screen.
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