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172 of 178 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Rodriguez amazes me.
Not because he's a great writer or director, but because with every single project he makes me feel like I can DO this. I can make good movies that people will enjoy watching. And you can, too.
This is one of the most inspiring books on filmmaking I've ever read--it depicts, in detail, all the ups and downs that went into making and selling EL MARIACHI, the $7000...
Published on February 25, 2003 by Desired FX

versus
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Empowering
Robert Rodriguez without knowing it has become the poster boy for the "Digital Revolution". Although his first film was shot on film, he helped to prove the theory that you can shoot enjoyable films without the deep pockets of Hollywood, and that you don't have to throw money at everything to have things work out. He also proved that digital editing can be a viable way of...
Published on June 17, 2005 by D. Williams


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172 of 178 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Rodriguez amazes me., February 25, 2003
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This review is from: Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player (Paperback)
Not because he's a great writer or director, but because with every single project he makes me feel like I can DO this. I can make good movies that people will enjoy watching. And you can, too.
This is one of the most inspiring books on filmmaking I've ever read--it depicts, in detail, all the ups and downs that went into making and selling EL MARIACHI, the $7000 sensation that opened doors for Rodriguez.
A lot of filmmakers argue that EL MARIACHI isn't a great film, that the story's kind of silly, that the version that most of us saw had $500,000 worth of post-production work added, and on and on.
But they're talking about it. It's 2003 and people are still talking about the amazing feat Rodriguez pulled off with this film. For $7000 of his own money, plus a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears, he got himself noticed and made a career out of his hobby. "Do what you love, then find someone who will pay you to do it."
This is a how-to manual for the basement movie-maker, written by a man who is excited about using movies to tell his stories: in this book, in the commentary tracks for his movies, in his Ten-Minute Film School installments, I have never once felt like Robert Rodriguez was bored with either his work or his achievements. The guy has fun, and his personality gets its fingerprints all over his work--if you can't enjoy yourself while watching a Rodriguez movie, you're expecting too much and thinking too hard.
This guy is not changing the face of American cinema: he wants all of US to change the face of American cinema, and this book is an open invitation to do just that.
Devour Rodriguez. Consume this book and engorge yourself on his DVDs. Chow down on special features on how he did it that also show YOU how to do it. If, after a week-long diet of Robert Rodriguez, you DON'T want to make your own movie IMMEDIATELY, seek a different destiny: making movies is not for you.
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best, maybe only book you need on filmmaking; Most fun too!, December 9, 2004
This review is from: Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player (Paperback)
When I started this book I didn't have the motivation to get up and make a movie. I wanted to, but it was all a big intimidating blur. The minute I finished it, 3 days after I started (and I'm not a fast reader) I decided to make a movie, and several months later had actually made a short film, as crewless as Mr. Rodriguez had been, and had an absolute blast doing it. Then it hit me, c'mon, how hard could it be from here to make a full feature? That's exactly what he'd been saying all along. This is the only book you need.

Aw, what do I know, right? Well let me revise myself a little bit. This is the only book you need to read to be PREPARED to actually get up and make a movie, whether it's two or 120 minutes. If you still need tech and history books, all good, all good, but if you want some kind of a degree or certificate that says "Official Filmmaker", forget it, this is the only,well, ANYTHING, you need. If even! Rodriguez would probably say you don't even need to read the book, just go out and make movies. That's what he did.

This book is as simple as it sounds. A production diary, edited here and there, highly informational introduction and appendices, and the most lively, vibrant, good natured, humorous, validating, and incredibly UN-intimidating (as said by my brother, he seems incredibly laid back) narrator you could ever wish for. Sometimes you honestly forget you're reading a book about movies and are just listening to a friend recount a few crazy harebrained adventures. The book flies by and I enjoyed every minute of it. I happily list it as one of the best and most entertaining books I've ever read, next to even my very favorite classics in literature!

But Rodriguez' adoration of, common sense, and maverick independence regarding film is what takes the cake. He realized that there's a labyrinthian system of bureaucracy, upper crust of snobs, and far too many negative folks controlling the main highway of the business, from the schools to the studios, and he, a film student at the time, decided that the actual flesh and bone mechanics of film are available to anyone and that there was another way to go. He didn't like the idea of being taught how to make movies the way someone else wanted you to make them, he wanted to be himself, and he thought that if you have talent that's all you need, it can't be taught to you. So he got up and made some short films for festivals, then decided "shorts are easy, couldn't be that hard to make a feature". So he went to Mexico and made his indie hit, El Mariachi, all by his lonesome. The actual diary takes place during the making of El Mariachi (and the post production and "getting discovered" frenzy), and is a day to day account of imagination, creativity, ingenuity, a makeshift and anything goes sensibility, and old fashioned elbow grease, told by a fabulous storyteller. Everything afterwards is equally thrilling for anyone interested in filmmaking as it offers a VERY revealing glimpse into the studio system, and ends up being humorous as Rodriguez, an overnight golden boy in Hollywood, was able to deflect it and still float along doing his own thing. (Some great pictures too!)

Other than relaying some of the philosophies and wisdom he's picked up along the way, he doesn't tell you what to do. By recounting his own adventures, he aims to inspire the reader to go off and do their own thing. And it works. It's magically inspiring.

For anyone out there wanting to make movies for the sake and artistic joy and satisfaction of making movies, which is one of Rodriguez' tenets, this is the book for you. It won't tell you how to become famous or successful or how to work a field mixer, but he tells you to get up, there's another door that is open with no line and no barriers except for the one in your mind, and there are millions of possibilities and routes to take on the other side.
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295 of 329 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Journal of an Indie Filmaker, January 3, 2004
By 
the wizard of uz (Studio City, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player (Paperback)
El Mariachi is a Comedy Of Errors. (Hey, what a catchy title for a play !) A poor man's " North by Northwest" wherein a mariachi looking for a job gets mistaken for a killer seeking revenge because they carry identical guitar cases.
It's a funny, fast paced and an extremely well plotted film, shot without a crew and only one camera. Rodriguez used a wheelchair for a dolly and a ladder for a crane. It works beautifully.
He recounts his adventures, including raising money by submitting to medical experiments, in this --to some--inspiring book.
I say 'to some' because if you want to get a rise out of an aspiring director who is working "through the system" i.e; editors, directors of photography, cameramen, 2nd A.D.'s, the guy brings the coffee, in short ANYONE in crew on a Hollywood set or in postproduction, all you have to do is casually mention 'El Mariachi' and they'll start grousing about how it really cost a million bucks after it got picked up to bring it up to quality prior to release.
Hmm. . .slightly untrue but a face saving urban myth. In a few years they'll be saying it took 10 million.
They're not alone. Film schools and some other Indie filmakers also dislike him.
Why?
Simple.
Rodriguez is a throwback to the Golden Era of silent films and the early twenties, prior to the star/ agent system.
(Gee, however did D. W. Griffith or Erich von Stroheim manage it without ever having attended a film school? Boggles the mind, doesn't it? )
BTW, Rodriguez' appendix 'The Ten Minute Film Course ' is worth the price of the book alone. Cheap really, considering he tells you how to save 20k from a school that will , after all is said and done, qualify you after four years to be the guy that brings the coffee to the set--or if you're extremely well connected and lucky, the 2nd A.D.
Which explains the dislike from both film schools and wannabe directors who already plunked downn their dough and have little to show for it ten to twenty years after.
But why would some Indie directors dislike one of their own?
Simple again.
Envy.
You see we have now a new myth in town--similar to the myth in the 40's that you were going to get 'discovered' sitting at Schwab's cafeteria , namely the myth of the YOUNG FILMAKER.
HEY KIDS, LET'S PUT TOGETHER OUR MASTERCARDS, SHOOT A LOW BUDGET FILM AND HAVE IT PLAY IN THE FESTIVAL CIRCUIT!
Good luck.
The truth is that for every Robert Rodriguez there's ten thousand intolerable idiots who couldn't direct traffic, let alone a film, and whose idea of writing a 'small movie' is a self indulgent sentimental auto biographical P.O.S. about the meaning of life, which ususally means scenes with teenagers drinking espresso and talking about their angst, or a study of a failed relationship, or a cynically dark vision from hell, or the plight of the (fill in the blank).
Zzzzzzz....................
But well written with a good plot? Forget about it! A comedy? Unimaginable.
After Mariachi's success, R. R. was given money (and a crew!) for his subsequent projects. He amazed the establishment by shooting as many as 70 camera set ups on a single day!
Well, why not? Without stars demanding changes to the script (Please read 'Adventures in The Screen Trade ' by William Goldman ) and other idiocies, it can and has been done.
Furthermore R.R. believes that the reason overblown and overbudgeted Hollywood productions are usually so stale is because of all the waiting actors have to do as the crew lights and sets up the next shot ( Oh, about 3 hours each on a good day ) which robs actors of energy and films of their vitality.
Along with Goldman's books ( He folllowed up with 'Which Lie Did I Tell? ' ) and Robert Evans 'The Kid Stays in The Picture' R.R's book is among the wisest and wittiest renderings on Hollyweird.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To call it Inspiring is an Understatement, March 18, 2000
By 
Kevin Alphonso (Canton, Michigan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player (Paperback)
Robert Rodriguez, Texas-born filmmaker tells us how his attempt at honing his filmmaking skills jettisioned him straight into the big time.
This diary book tells us of the frustrations and nightmares of making his debut feature film "El Mariachi". He also tells us of his interesting and amusing stories of entry into Hollywood: like getting representation from a major Hollywood agent at one International Creative Management (the biggest talent agency in the world). And he tells of his adventures and misadventures in a such a friendly style, you'd swear you were speaking to your best friend.
This is the only book I've ever read that can genuinely constitute as inspiring. I'm dead serious. I'm 17 years old and an aspiring filmmaker. Before I read his book, I was trying to make movies and was more than a little discouraged at how things turned out. But, that all changed when I heard what this book was about. I requested it for Christmas and couldn't believe my eyes. If Rodriguez, for some reason, decides that he doesn't want to make movies anymore, he should seriously consider being a motivational speaker. In this book, he tells of his filmmaking experience -- all the trials and tribulations and encourages and inspires people by telling them how easy and straightforward the filmmaking process, always known to be daunting, really is.
And as an added incentive -- frosting on the cake, really -- Rodriguez includes his "10 Minute Film School", telling how you can make a movie in a few easy steps. Again, this guy speaks to you on an equal level -- he doesn't patronize, which is what makes the book even better.
Robert Rodriguez does an excellent job of entertaining and inspiring us in this book on how easy, sometimes challenging, and rewarding the filmmaking process can be.
Take a bow, Mr. Rodriguez.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You wanna be a filmmaker...fine, you ARE one!, February 13, 2004
By 
Angelo.Bell (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player (Paperback)
I have a library of freakin' Hollywood how-to books. Filmmaking. Screenwriting. Treatments. Pitching. Blah-blah-blah. This book by Robert Rodriguez is the ONLY book in my library that actually inspired me to get off my [couch] and make a film!
I read Robert's book in the summer of 2003. By February 1, 2004 I had written, produced, shot and directed my own short film. People said it couldn't be done.
I'm about to submit my short film to the Los Angeles Film Festival. My film has a cast of 7 people and more than a dozen extras. I had seven crew members. I shot it using someone else's Canon GL1 miniDV camera. It was edited on Final Cut Pro 4 by someone...for free. People said it couldn't be done.
I needed to shoot my film in 2 days -- Super Bowl XXXVIII weekend to be exact. People said "you'll never be able to get people to show up." I did.
They said, "You can't shoot an 18-page script in two days." I did.
They said, "You'll never be able to afford to pay your crew." Everyone worked on my production for FREE.
They said, "You need a $5 million production insurance policy to book a location." I had everyone sign release forms and I filmed in my own condo and 'guerilla style' at night, at my employer's office.
They said, "You need expensive lighting equipment costing $1000+." I paid $126 for lighting equipment from an online auction site.
Robert's book shows you how to work around "the system" and do what you've always wanted to do: make films. Hollywood is an exclusionary environment where the powers-that-be want to keep as many people OUT as possible. You don't have to follow their rules. Make your own rules. The point of RR's book is for the reader to gain experience MAKING FILMS, not making coffee for some other director. Your first film may not be great, but so what? You've only spent maybe $100 on it, whereas film school grads plunk down tens of thousands of dollars only to see their films crash and burn.
An acquaintance I know is trying to get in the business "the Hollywood way." He went to film school. He tried to do a student film. Now he wants to do commercials in hopes that he'll get "discovered". He turned up his nose at me when I said I was going to make a short film. But while he's working on everyone else's film, sitting in lecture halls, taking tests and being a PA I have already directed my first film and I'm about to see it premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
So you wanna be a filmmaker? Fine, you ARE one! Now go print some business cards and make a film!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read ripper of a tale, May 5, 2000
By 
Susan Thrasher (Lower Hutt, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player (Paperback)
This is a delightful, funny, amazing and inspirational book. It's the remarkable account of how one 23-year-old made a film on the cheap, and how hard he had to work (it was a labor of love, of course) to do that. This book also gives an insightful glimpse into the dazzling world of Hollywood glitz from the point-of-view of "an ordinary Joe" who suddenly finds himself catapulted into a world of limos, expense accounts, and who-you-know mentality. Included in the book are Rodriguez's famous "Ten Minute Film School" essay and the script for his film "El Mariachi" as he wrote it. (No, it's not in "proper script format", but since he wrote, directed, shot, and edited the whole film himself, it didn't matter. Rodriguez rule number one: You don't always have to follow the rules.)
Readers who aren't dying to make their own movies will still find this a tremendously good tale of how an ordinary, middle-class, almost-a-dropout can become a success. Rodriguez's formula for success is a true homily: 10% inspiration + 90% prespiration, and a little blood donated to science. Oh, and a whole lot of chutzpah.
For aspiring independent film-makers, this book is truly a must-read. For everybody else, it's a ripper of a true tale, well told and likeable.
Oh, and don't forget to pair it with the video of "El Mariachi", the film the book is all about. It shows how stylish a "cheap" film can be, and it's a lot of fun, especially when you know all the "inside jokes": cheat sheets, wheelchair dollies, why everybody always gets shot in the chest, etc.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Let Anyone Ever Tell You, Dreams Don't Come True, January 13, 2007
This review is from: Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player (Paperback)
This is what I think of "rebel without a crew"

I hate it. I hate the fact that some young guy, barely in his twenties was able to go out and make a film that was so successful. Its not fair! Why should he be the only one with all this luck and fortune falling upon him so fast and so much at once?

This book was too much for me. I was sick the other day, and I ended up reading it all day in bed, and I just couldn't put it down. Everything that was happening to him was like a movie. It didn't seem real. That some 23 year old Texan would be able to sell his Spanish movie to COLUMBIA PICTURES for hundreds of thousands of dollars and won all those awards and go on to achieve such great success afterwards as well. I finished the book and tried to go to sleep, but couldn't. my mind was racing. I was rob Rodriguez at that moment. Standing up on stage at sundance cracking jokes in front of people I used to only see on a tv screen, people with jobs, people with money and power! I was crying, because I knew that that's probably never going to be me, because his story is one out of a million. By far the best part of the book was his journey through all the studio deals and festival runs. It must of felt like a fantasy to him.

I think his trials and tribulations were so hilarious, and so exhilarating, to go from nothing to something in a matter of months, its insanity!! I loved reading his book, because he didn't sound like some Hollywood big shot. He sounded like a regular guy. I only hope that he's the same regular guy now that he's rich and famous.

At the end of his book, it says "one day, we will meet each other", and to "call him when we're done making our movie". That's ... uplifting and nice. But I doubt he feels the same way a decade later.

A really great, insightful book. Even if you only like movies in the smallest most remote way, I suggest you read this book. You won't be disappointed...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Empowering, June 17, 2005
By 
D. Williams (Richmond, California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player (Paperback)
Robert Rodriguez without knowing it has become the poster boy for the "Digital Revolution". Although his first film was shot on film, he helped to prove the theory that you can shoot enjoyable films without the deep pockets of Hollywood, and that you don't have to throw money at everything to have things work out. He also proved that digital editing can be a viable way of editing. (Which is commonplace now, and soon all digital productions from start to finish.) If you rent the dvd of El Mariachi/Desparado (double feature) there is some bonus commentary that augments the book shot by shot. I found both invaluable.

The actual story of how he got the money to make the film, and how it became a success is almost "too good to be true". It will probably be made into a movie one day.

The Hollywood machine has mostly forgotten the creative powers of directors, opting for work that has been spoon fed through their money making processes for a quick buck. We need alternatives and radicals within and outside of Hollywood to keep the movie making process alive.

(I would also recondmend Badd Asssss by Melvin & Mario Van Peoples)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Celluloid in my blood!, November 20, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player (Paperback)
Rodriguez never ceases to amaze me. This is, by far, the most inspirational book on modern independent filmmaking that I've ever read. He simply leaves the mechanics of the art behind and gets right to the soul of it. The diary is a clear illustration of this man's personal triumph in an industry filled with closed doors. Robert Rodriguez not only tells his own story in a fast-paced, exciting style, he actually motivates the reader to get out there and make movies as well. It is evident that this man's passion is film. I am still amazed at how strongly he's able to channel that passion straight into the reader's bloodstream. Rebel Without A Crew is a definite must-read for anyone even remotely interested in producing films. If this veritable shot of motion picture-making adrenaline doesn't move you to action, you don't belong in the business! Read it, love it, live it!!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book got into my head, May 4, 2001
By 
This review is from: Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player (Paperback)
I admired Rodriguez's work before I read this book, but I have to admit, now I'm a disciple. It's been weeks since I read this book, but it's still in my head. Does that mean I've been permanently changed? That's a pretty amazing feat for the diary of a filmmaker.
This book is the incredible tale (told in excerpts from Rodriguez's diary) of how Robert Rodriguez went from submitting film shorts to small-time film festivals to travelling to Hollywood, getting an agent, and finally winning an award at Sundance. (And you can see the epilogue of the book, as Rodriguez's most recent film, "Spy Kids" has almost reached $100 million domestically after only five weeks).
Since Rodriguez wrote his diary as his life was being radically altered, the reader really gets to make the journey with him from medical guinea pig to camera jockey to the most sought-after person in Hollywood... it's amazing.
The best part is that Rodriguez is also a teacher, and his book manages to be massively instructive as well as encouraging. Rodriguez gives practical advice about things like cameras, lighting, and films, as well as advice on more ephemeral topics, like staying true to yourself in filmmaking. Like a more-experienced older brother, Rodriguez tells us how to deal with the junk that Hollywood metes out, and how to emerge personality intact.
It's clear that Rodriguez is emerging as a Hollywood maverick and leader, much like other indie-turned-studio directors such as Steven Soderbergh ("Sex, Lies and Videotape," "Erin Brockovich" and "Traffic"), and this book is a veritable how-to manual. A roadmap to filmmaking, if you will.
Yes, it's a must-read if you are a filmmaker ("So you want to be a filmmaker?" asks Rodriguez. "First step to being a filmmaker is to stop saying you want to be a filmmaker... you don't want to be a filmmaker, you ARE a filmmaker.") But if you love stories of excruciating hard work mingled with blood and sweat, David taking on Goliath, and a super-big payoff ending, then this is a story you won't want to miss.
When's your next diary coming out, Robert?
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Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player
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