How Shorts director Robert Rodriguez makes filmmaking a familiy affair

Director Robert Rodriguez brought his sons out from his studio ranch in Austin, Texas, for a seminar at the closing day of the Los Angeles Film Festival called "Family Man: Robert Rodriguez."

But before he came into the 90-minute chat with a screening room full of fans, Rodriguez talked about his other projects. He confirmed that he is for sure not doing a remake of Barbarella anymore, and he didn't have much to say about his Predators reboot for Fox. "I'm definitely not going to direct it or write it, but you know me, I'll have my hands in it somehow," he said. (He will produce that project, which is slated for a July 2010 release.) And he had nothing much to say about his Jetsons movie.

"We're saving a lot of announcements for Comic-Con; it's coming up so very soon," he said with a smile.

Rodriguez did, however, talk a lot about the movie that is his latest collaboration with his family, Shorts, which is about 11-year-old Toe Thompson, who just wants to make a few friends, until a mysterious rainbow-colored rock falls from the sky, hits him in the head and changes everything: It grants wishes to anyone who holds it.

The movie is coming out Aug. 7, distributed by Warner Brothers and scripted by Rodriguez (with help from his boys). "We need to look beyond talking guinea pigs and chipmunks," he said, referring to other recent and upcoming family fantasy films.

Comedian Cheech Marin, who has appeared in most of Rodriguez's movies, acted as a surprise guest moderator for Rodriguez's talk, which also featured his sons, Racer, Rocket and Rebel. (Rodriguez has five children.)

"It's nice working with a family; this is my family," Marin said by way of introduction. "That's what it's like. He makes you feel like you're all part of this big family doing some great things."

Robert Rodriguez (left) with his Sin City co-director Frank Miller

Rodriguez said he gets inspired by his children and their homemade comic books and games. The kids' antics in the home swimming pool became the germ of Rodriguez's The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.

"Rocket [13] likes stunts, and he likes playing the bully," Rodriguez said. "Rebel [9] came up with the character of Sharkboy and likes drawing. Racer [12] is the filmmaker of the bunch and is now working on a movie that is a mix of Indiana Jones and James Bond."

Rodriguez showed part of a clip of his son's movie. Although he thinks that his kids could possibly handle some of his more adult, R-rated movies (not Sin City), he said that they do not want to see them.

"They think they may be scared, so they don't want to see Grindhouse or Sin City or Desperado," dad said.

Rodriguez and his boys also work on books and comic books about their Sharkboy and Lavagirl characters, including an illustrated screenplay that they compiled for the movie.

Rodriguez said that the trick of filmmaking is that something will always go wrong. "You have to plan on something going wrong every day; that's part of the business," he said. "It's nice to have people you know and love around you when that happens. And just keep making mistakes: You learn from that."

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