June 12, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT

So Spielberg has indie envy. The guy who practically invented big is now jonesing to get small. Why? For the freedom basically.

That’s right, even the King of Directors doesn’t feel like he’s got the artistic latitude to make what he wants. Of course, there are other ways to achieve that latitude, but almost all of them involve spending less money. (Unless, of course, you’re “indie” filmmakers George Lucas and James Cameron.)

True, the $70 million budget of Munich was small for Spielberg. But that’s still twice what indie legend Robert Rodriguez spends on his version of a “studio movie.”

This is great news. We may finally get to see that disturbing drama of child abandonment that’s lurked behind every movie Spielberg’s ever made, from E.T. to A.I. — except this time, unvarnished with special effects and studio sheen. Remember, this is the guy who did his best work without the shark.

I leave you with an image (a vengeful, be-bopping E.T. cutting off Peter Coyote’s ear) and a question: What should Indie Spielberg make? Let the pitching begin. I’ll start things off: How about something Clerks-ish, capturing the discontent and tragicomic anarchy brewing beneath the surface of the American service economy. Except with dinosaurs.

addCredit(“Steven Spielberg: Donato Sardella/WireImage.com”)

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