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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
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“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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There are lots of examples of how to get lots done on a tiny budget. But, it doesn't get bogged down in technical details. They're mentioned and then on to the next thing.
It's neat to see a daily journal that's been turned into a book that is very easy to read.
About one-quarter of the book (75 of 285 pages) is the screenplay for "El Mariachi", which is nice to have and provides much to be learned from, but it isn't required reading.
I came away feeling inspired. That's pretty good praise for any book.
His journey is indeed an unorthodox one, and won't happen to too many other people, because why would it? That was his path and everyone's journey into this industry is different. However, you can learn some GREAT secrets on filmmaking, dealing with studio peeps and how to better your craft in no-time flat. The stuff about him signing with ICM & getting deals? That comes when you do good work and a monkey can sign a contract. The filmmaking and the time-crunches he blasted through...that's where the art is and he explains it all brilliantly.
This is simply a must-have book for new, inspiring and hopeful filmmakers. It's like they always say...if he can do it, then you can do it too. :)
I doubt that Mr. Rodriguez will ever read this review, but I still want to give my thanks to him. Without this book, I would have never made my own movie.
With respect to his development as a filmmaker, he starts out by describing how he was first inspired to make films, as a child, after watching John Carpenter's "Escape from New York". He tells of his childhood tales working with claymation, 8mm and VHS video. He then goes on to his film school days and how he made, while still in school, two films that he used as a basis to launch his career, "Bedhead" and "El Mariachi" (the latter of which can be rented on DVD from Netflix).
The story of the making of Mariachi is quite interesting. He uses almost no money ($7,000 to be exact) to make his film and describes, in detail, this adventure. For anyone involved in filmmaking a very interesting tale. Then he goes on about going to LA to market this product to Latino video makers and how, instead, the film was picked up by a major studio thus launching his career. The whole tale is well written, entertaining and interesting.
There are also important lessons for any filmmaker in this book. One is the need for passion, something that flows throughout the book. The second is perseverance, again another theme that flows throughout the text. Lastly, and possibly most important to aspiring filmmakers, is the very very important need to have a masterly knowledge of just about all aspects of filmmaking. Today's film schools tend to force students into specialized niches such as sound, cimematography, etc. His story emphasizes (and he states explicitely) one must be a master of all crafts of filmmaking to successfully become one. This means not only being a master of photography and videography, but also editing, sound, etc.
The lesson from his story (and his explicit advice) is not to "waste" money on film school but to instead master the art of filmmaking then use the saved money to go on and actually make a film as opposed to working as a niche technician on someone else's. Mastering everything in a book such as Pincus's "The Filmmaker's Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age" and Long's "The Digital Filmmaking Handbook " should provide one a more useful background than almost $80,000 spent on film school. This knowledge, combined with passion and persaverance, was the key to Rodriguez's success. His story (and he explicitely) emphasize, this is absolutely essential to becoming a successful filmmaker.