Yes, I’m Robert Rodriquez. Well, not really, but we do share one similarity, and it’s not me making a $7,000 film that leads to a career making movies that routinely generate $200,000,000. The similarity is that we’ve both donated our bodies to science to raise money for our first features.
Recently, I’ve discovered a subculture in which people become “lab rats” to make money. Now, I’d read about it in Rodriquez’s own biography Rebel Without a Crew, but I never seriously thought about it. I thought it was some fringe medical lab, barely legal, setting up shops in ghettos taking advantage of poor people. Boy, was I wrong. These clinics are completely legit with state of the art facilities. More importantly, they pay very well. Of course, what is well is relative, but this pays better than any job I’ve ever worked and I’ve had many many jobs. Besides, not having a boss or doing the 9-5 thing is rewarding in of itself. I’m currently in a month-long study that is going to pay me $4,600 when I’m finished. That’s a grand a week and I’ve never made a grand a week.
There are some caveats to getting that money and every study is different. The one I’m in, I have to take three pills every morning at the same time and I’m not allowed to smoke, drink alcohol, have caffeine or any kind of medication including aspirin. My study also includes two weeks of overnight stays in which my meals are given to us at specific times and we regularly have to give blood and urine samples. One day I had to give twelve urine samples and had blood drawn twelve times. But they do try to make the stays as pleasant as possible. They have three high-definitions TVs, DVD player, X box, wi-fi, a ping-pong table and a pool table. In addition to all the fun activities they offer, I’ve met some really cool people. A couple of which I’m sure I’ll be good friends with for long after the study is over.
Now, since I’m enjoying it so much, I decided to do some investigating and see where more clinics are and how do I get into them. I found a really cool site featuring a list of clinics offering studies along with a blog about them. Just another lab rat is the website which lists studies going on around the country (including Hawaii!) and Thoughts of a lab rat is the blog founded by the same creator. I’m really looking forward to getting into about seven or eight of them within the next year and a half and being able to save about $25,000-$35,000 to make a feature. That’s over three times the amount Rodriquez needed to make El Mariachi and that turned out pretty well for him.
I know some people may think I’m crazy (including my girlfriend) about not worrying about the long-term effects these drugs may have on my body. Well, I drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of red meat, don’t exercise and I’m overweight; the pills are the least of my worries. The medicine we’re given has passed the animal testing stage and if it’s good enough for animals, then it’s good enough for me. So if you’re looking to make some extra money, check out Just another lab rat and see if there’s something in there for you. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you at a clinic ; ).