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Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player Paperback – September 1, 1996

4.7 out of 5 stars 228 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Robert Rodriguez won critical acclaim and the attention of every studio in Tinseltown with his action-packed debut feature, El Mariachi—but the question remains: However did he write, direct, shoot, and edit the flick all by his lonesome…and for a paltry $7,000? You’ll find that out and more in this straight-talking and highly entertaining memoir-cum-moviemaking primer... you will never view an independently made movie (or $7,000) the same way again.”—Entertainment Weekly

“There's no one in the American film business quite like Robert Rodriguez, who plays completely outside the rules imposed by Hollywood studios… Given his success rate, it's clear his method works… Rodriguez has long been a hero to independent filmmakers.”—The Daily Telegraph

"A hero to the independent film crowd."—The New York Times

“Only someone very young or ignorant would attempt to make a feature film with $7,000 dollars and no crew. This is because most people know such an endeavor is impossible. Not only did Robert Rodriguez create ‘El Mariachi’ under those conditions but at 23 he became a Hollywood success overnight… Rebel Without a Crew is the kind of book one would expect from someone who had the courage to break with convention and enough talent for it to pay off almost immediately.”—The Los Angeles Times

About the Author

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ is an independent screenwriter and director of more than fifteen feature films. He pioneered the “Mariachi-style” and “one-man film crew” styles of filmmaking, and is the founder of the production company, Troublemaker Studios. Some of Rodriguez’s films include Sin City, Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, The Faculty, Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Spy Kids, Planet Terror, and Machete. He has collaborated with Quentin Tarantino on From Dusk Till Dawn and Grindhouse. 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 285 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452271878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452271876
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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!
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Format: 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.
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