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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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Rebel Without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker with $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  2,209 ratings  ·  124 reviews
When Columbia Pictures picked up Rodriguez's low-budget independent film, El Mariachi, and offered him a million-dollar contract, the rules of the Hollywood game were irrevocably changed. Complete with a shooting script of the film, this book is both one man's remarkable story and an essential guide for anyone who has a celluloid story to tell--and the determination to see ...more
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published December 31st 1995 by Dutton Books (first published August 1st 1995)
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Mar 31, 2008 Alexia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: aspiring filmmakers and the people who love them
now that i'm a month from earning my bachelor's degree in film production here's how i would do it if i were to do it all over again:

1. take out a student loan, but use it to buy a camera instead of classes.

2. get the super maxed out netflix subscription that allows for 10 dvd's at a time. start from the silents and watch every important film anyone ever mentioned (and some bad ones for balance)

3. purchase 'rebel without a crew'. read it in two hours (it really is a fast read) and follow every w
This is probably the most inspiring film I've read on going out and just making a film. Rodriguez doesn't want to hear your excuses: if you have access to a camera, ANY kind of camera, there's no reason why you can't go out and make a film. My favorite insight in this book is early on regarding screenplays. Basically, he says that everyone has to write a bunch of crappy screenplays until they get good at it; likewise, everyone has to make a bunch of crappy films until they get good at it. His de ...more
I think I would give this book 2.5 stars really. Rodriguez definitely knows how to craft a story, whether it is in a film or this book laid out in diary form. It moves quickly, like the movie he describes making, but sometimes he goes a little too quickly, especially once he becomes enamored with Hollywood (he protests he isn't, but I think what he tells us about really shows that he is). One of the most frustrating parts is when Rodriguez tells us that Quentin Tarentino gives him some writing a ...more
I really wish there was a 4 1/2 stars option but there's not. This book contains Robert Rodriguez's journal entries from 1992 about the making and success of his film "El Mariachi." In case you don't know he made this film with a few actors and no crew for around $7,000 (he would later remake this film as "Desperado" with Antonio Banderas for $7 MILLION dollars), writing/directing/editing/producting/etc. it all himself.

Although these events are 20 years old now and some of the methods he discus
Really, really interesting book. It's essentially the diary Rodriguez wrote while making his famous debut film "El Mariachi." He redefines creating by the seat of your pants. Rodriguez does everything from volunteering for a medical experiment to raise much-needed funds to casting people who don't even speak Spanish into his Spanish-language movie. He shoots for an insanely short number of days, hardly sleeping and improvising as he goes--he admits, for instance, that the theme song to the movie ...more
Demetra Materis
As a film school graduate and independent Chicago film lover, this book really inspired me to keep going and forget Hollywood. I wish I would have read it BEFORE I went to film school but that's just too long and boring of a story.

Robert Rodriguez shares his journal entries as his first feature film "El Mariachi" kicks ass from LA to Toronto, putting him on the map of important filmmakers. He is real, honest and funny. I loved everything about this book and have much respect for the man. Highly
Kali Srikanth
How do you make a movie when you don’t have a Camera, don’t have known stars, don’t have crew to work for you, and more importantly don’t have enough money? The answer lies in the first 70 pages of this inspiring diary of Robert Rodriguez’s.

Robert is certainly a brilliant story-teller who knows his story well but his story comes down to only names once he made it to Columbia Pictures Whom he met in Hollywood, big shots he had free lunch with and the interviews he gave.

His ten minute crash cou
Film director Mat Whitecross has chosen to discuss Robert Rodriguez’s Rebel Without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Film-Maker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player , on FiveBooks ( as one of the top five on his subject – Film Directing, saying that:

“…I remember growing up and really wanting to be a film-maker but it seemed like an impossible dream. When this book came out it was so inspiring because Rodriguez said, just grab hold of a camera and go off and shoot and practise
Steve Isaak
This is one of the best books I've read on filmmaking - it shows, in practical and often humorous terms, how practically anyone with a lot of energy, planning and focus can make a worthwhile entertaining film in a relatively short period of time (when compared to time- and finance-bloated Hollywood blockbusters whose entertainment returns are less than one would hope).

Yes, making a film can be a lot of work, but it's probably less work (and more worthwhile) than Grumbling Gusses think - and, mo
Robert Rodriguez is very much a film maker on the up and has been for a number of years. In 2005, following the release of his film "Sin City"; he was ranked as one of Hollywood's 50 most powerful people by Premiere magazine.

In fact, Robert Rodriguez has done so much, having written and directed a number of very successful films, including his "Mariachi" trilogy and the "Spy Kids" trilogy and directed "From Dusk Til Dawn"; it seems strange to think he has only really been on the scene for less t
Alexandre Vale
Franco, directo, muito divertido, sem falsos romantismos e idealismos ingénuos.
Os diários de Robert Rodriguez, escritos durante toda a produção e consequente distribuição do icónico "El Mariachi", são bastante cativantes e, acima de tudo, o resultado final é bastante inspirador.
O melhor de tudo é mesmo o tesouro de texto que encontramos no final do livro, o "Ten Minute Film School". Em dez minutos, Rodriguez, de forma enérgica, diz tudo o que precisas para fazer um filme.
Dá vontade de pegar n
Rebel Without A Crew is an extraordinary and inspirational book by Robert Rodriguez about his legendary frugal filming of El Mariachi and the whirlwind aftermath of the famous post-production. Most filmmakers will not obtain the quick success of El Marichi, but Robert shows that being prepared with a script, having experience with shooting and editing movies (as opposed to only having Film School knowledge) and lots and lots of hard work you can go far in an industry dominated by heavy weights.

Carlos Marin
While Robert Rodriquez's "Rebel Without a Crew" will not win any literary awards, it is still a fun read. The book is an account of the director's personal journey to get his low budget movie, "El Mariachi" produce and sold. The novel is a collection of journal entries (from Mr. Rodriquez) on the process of: finding funds, getting actors, acquiring locations, filming the feature, and submitting the final product to film festivals and potential video and Spanish TV buyers. Written from the direct ...more
Bridget Petrella
Robert Rodriguez so desperately wanted to make movies that he actually subjected himself to medical experiments so he could finance them. He really did: "Naturally, the research hospital fit the bill. I knew that if I checked in for a month long drug study I could clear about $3,000, with room and board paid for, and have plenty of time to kick back and write my script."

"Rebel Without a Crew" is Rodriguez's daily diary about the making of his first full-length movie, "El Mariachi", and his bruta
S. Cole
The reason I discovered/picked this up in the beginning was because I read that the Soska Sisters (Dead Hooker in a Trunk, American Mary) started their filmmaking career after being inspired by Rodriguez's book. After reading it, I can understand how they were inspired. This is a great, easy read for people that are high on creativity but lacking in confidence. However, if your sole purpose for picking it up is a ticket to filmmaking success, you are probably not going to get what you want out o ...more
Aug 07, 2008 Professor rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: film fans, underdog fans

I've been a casual fan of Robert Rodriguez for a while-basically I think he makes damn fun action films with some inventive ideas in each, even if they're not "the best movie evar" kinds of deals. So when I saw this at the Traveler Cafe I snapped it up. About a year or maybe more later I've finally read it, in quite rapid-fire (I think it took less than a week). It's immensely readable, just Rodriguez's diary from the time he conceived of the idea of shooting a "practice" action film on film, tr
Hassan Hejaili
Heeyyy!! If you don't ever want to make a film, you still should read this book. I never really looked at Robert Rodríguez as a great filmmaker neither any of his films is in my top 100 list. However, this book is fun to read, rebellious, and it has a true feeling of the love of film making.
Basically, the book says if you want to make a Hollywood film without a big Hollywood budget, you can do it. I did it, and this is my experience...
Alexander Skakunov
Простая, честная и интересная книга. Немного удручает, что технологии с 1991 года устарели, но основной посыл ясный и чёткий — к чёрту всё, бери и снимай.
Кстати, есть видео-курс по съёмке —
Maria Gillis
As an aspiring film maker, this book helped me to stretch my imagination about what's really possible for a movie with a small budget, and gave a lot of insight as to what to expect when trying to get a movie bought. Rodrigues' humor and the story of his humble beginnings as a lab rat adds a nice twist to it and made the book quite enjoyable to read. The book started to get a bit dry after El Mariachi started to take off as it didn't offer much other than a long list of awards, but otherwise, no ...more
Jeremiah Bell
This book is fantastic- A real page turner! I began reading it two days ago, and have barely been able to put it down since. Rodriguez' account of his trials, tribulations, and incredible adventure as he rises from a 12-year-old amateur filmmaker to a 23-year-old writer/producer/director/cameraman thrust into the Hollywood limelight make for very engrossing reading. The book contains Rodriguez' almost daily journal entries that he wrote while filming "El Mariachi," as well as during a month-long ...more
Jonathan Wanzer
Robert Rodriguez in one of my favorite filmmakers and reading about the process of getting El Mariachi made and how it catapulted his career into high gear is very inspirational.
What an inspirational story! I'm not even an inspiring film maker! It's the quintessential American Dream. It's a step by step how he made a straight to video movie with no money. It's great about achieving dreams. Call in favors and borrow equipment from friends. Get on the phone, a lot, and figure out the details of the steps that you need to do. Sell your body to medical science.

Most of all his energy is infectious and really brings across the point that is you work hard enough you can make
Jeff Hillary
If you've ever thought about trying to make your own movie or short film, this is a must read. By the time you get to the end of this book you'll be ready to jump off your couch and start filming.

I can not recommend this book highly enough to any creative types who feel like they'll never be able to bring their visions to life.
Jon Forisha
I'm a fan of Rodriguez, so naturally this was an interesting read. He writes so matter-of-factly about the whole process that he makes it seem easy to get noticed by Hollywood. It was inspiring, particularly at the end when he went back and examined how insanely fast all of his fame developed. As with any diary, certain facts are repeated quite a few times, but, for the most part, they deserve repetition. How the hell did some guy from Austin make a movie with $7,000 and sell it for a few hundre ...more
Aug 07, 2012 Anna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every film maker or writer or costumer or make up artist
Recommended to Anna by: Robert Rodriguez
Coming from Austin Texas and having studied Film both at U of I in Chicago and in Austin at St Edwards University and now in Kansas City at AII for digital film... I still LOVE this book. It's real. If you like to make movies, or do make up or make costumes, or write... this is the book for you. JUST DO IT. Get your friends and family together and DO IT... theory is fine, but you learn from every failure and you learn more than those that might have read how, but have never done it. Making films ...more
Sean Bode
Inspirational to the young filmmaker. Rodriguez is a living example how when life hits with roadblocks drop the whining and do what you want. Pragmatic solutions to writing screenplays and getting paid for it without being an irresponsible employee. Making it yourself when you have no body who CAN help you (because making it yourself doesn't compare with making it with skilled others, I don't care how knowledgeable you are). He goes into details on how he started with a camera and tape decks and ...more
Randolph Lalonde
I love reading about someone's journey and film making, and this book is a candid retelling of one film-maker's journey into the middle to upper echelons of the US film making industry.

I just finished reading this in an afternoon, and plan to read it again tomorrow. If you are interested in any kind of film making, or the film industry, then this is a must read. There is a reasonable amount of content dedicated to how-to, but most of the book is about Rodriguez' experience making the film, then
First half of the book was great -- fast read, really interesting story, inspiring creativity. The last half was really just a long list of awards, film festivals, interviews, and name-dropping.

From what I've read, this book really changed what it means to make movies, and inspired a whole slew of people to grab camera's and start filming. It is definitely inspiring, and belongs in the rah-rah type of books that charge you up to go out and change things.

I'm not really a movie buff and I don't k
An exceptionally bland read which could essentially be condensed down to a blurb-Man sells himself to science to fund film, man makes cheap said film for 7,000, man becomes overnight Hollywood royalty. Everything else is just laboured repetition.
Also in order keep up with the nonchalant pretence of effortless film making vital information is constantly left out, often going from A straight to D.
A prime example being while struggling to write for film Quentin Tarantino gives him some great advice
Ronit Jadhav
A must read for anyone who wants to be an indie filmmaker. Truly inspiring. Not the award winning artsy book, but relatable.
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Robert Anthony Rodriguez is an American director, writer, producer, cinematographer, editor and musician perhaps best known for making profitable, crowd-pleasing independent and studio films with fairly low budgets and fast schedules by Hollywood standards. He shoots and produces many of his films in Texas and Mexico.
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