On his Hulu webseries Spoilers earlier this week, Smith related a story that in the days before production began on Dogma--one of the director's best-reviewed and highest-grossing films--the filmmaker gave in to a moment of self-doubt and called Robert Rodriguez and asked him to direct the movie.
Smith explained that the pair met when they almost made a Superman film together, back before the movie was offered to Tim Burton, who rejected Smith's script and ultimately torpedoed the project at Warner Brothers altogether. Having met Rodriguez--whose $7,000 El Mariachi convinced Smith to make Clerks--Smith apparently held onto his contact information in case of emergency, which came in 1998.
Many fans know that Dogma was actually the first script Kevin Smith completed, before Clerks was finalized. That's why, in the closing credits to Clerks, it informs fans that "Jay and Silent Bob will return in Dogma," in spite of the fact that there would be two films and five years between the two movies being released theatrically.
Well, it turns out that when it came time to actually shoot the film, Smith had a bit of a panic attack, and called Rodriguez, saying that he didn't think he was capable of making a movie so ambitious in scope.
"I'm supposed to make this movie, Dogma," Smith remembers saying. "It's got angels, it's about the end of the world. I don't think I can do it. Would you direct it next week?"
Rodriguez, the director of El Mariachi and Spy Kids, declined the offer and told Smith that he would be alright as the director, offering him a little advice along the way.
"'You can do this, man. Here's my one tip for you'," Smith remembers Rodriguez telling him. "'Just pull the camera away from the wall. You're always shooting against the wall. Turn it towards a window'."
The directors agreed: A little backlighting from the windows made a difference.