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Rebel Without a Crew: Or, How a 23-year-old Film Maker with $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  2,988 Ratings  ·  159 Reviews
The film-maker Robert Rodriguez describes how he made El Mariachi for $7000, demonstrating many ways in which a film-maker can do for nothing what professionals spend thousands of dollars doing without a second thought.
Unknown Binding, 285 pages
Published February 19th 1996 by Not Avail (first published August 1st 1995)
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There are fans of Roberto Rodriguez and there are detractors. The latter will point to Spy Kids (even if their kids love watching them) and Once Upon a Time in the West as proof that he sold out years ago. Personally to them I would point out Sin City (both 1 and 2) as proof that his ability to create visual effects that look like they are straight out of his vivid imagination is hard to surpass. This book of course talks about the legendary filming of El Mariachi which made Roberto a man with a ...more
Mar 31, 2008 Alexia rated it really liked it  ·  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
Dec 11, 2012 Roland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film
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
Dylan Hesp
Sep 16, 2016 Dylan Hesp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. An amazing, creative, get it done story. Rodriguez is the man and an inspiration. It's impossible to read this and not feel creatively charged and challenged.
Jul 16, 2009 Josh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books, filmmaking
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
Apr 20, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, film
In 1991, Robert Rodriguez was just another film fanatic who wanted to make his own feature-length movie. Unlike the bulk of people in the same situation, he actually did something about it - volunteering himself for medical trials to raise the funds, being his own crew, sorting out his cast and location and actually making a film. Then his $7,000 movie, intended as a test-run to be sold to Spanish-language direct-to-video, was picked up by Columbia Pictures and Rodriguez became “a Hollywood Play ...more
Jay Lamm
Nov 23, 2015 Jay Lamm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert Rodriguez is a fine example for what can be accomplished with a bit of talent and work ethic. This book is actually his published journal from the time he spent making his first feature-length film, El Mariachi.

It's a fascinating account of how one guy can make something happen. It's the whole "if you want something done right you have to do it yourself" thing. For those who don't know, El Mariachi was shot for just seven thousand dollars. How was he able to keep it so cheap? He pretty mu
May 06, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jeff Sarris
Nov 18, 2015 Jeff Sarris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Going in I didn't realize this is essentially just his journal entries. It chronicles his conception of El Mariachi through his dramatic entrance into Hollywood and culminates with the film festival circuit.

At first glance I thought I would be disappointed due to this format, but I loved this book.

I'm a sucker for against all odds underdog back stories. A good example of another back story I love is that of Andy Weir (of The Martian fame). I tend to connect with these real life stories so much
Demetra Materis
Nov 10, 2014 Demetra Materis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Linnea Gelland
An interesting read, especially for aspiring filmmakers. It was inspiring to see the diary of a person so determined and focused on a set goal. I don't think it's necessary to read all of it though, as a lot of the thoughts become repetitive after a while.
Carrie Evans
Jan 05, 2016 Carrie Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film-books
Yes, get a camera, grab every resource you have at your disposal, and make a movie. I can get behind this mentality. So many books by filmmakers dance around how they actually did things. Sure, Robert gets lucky quite a few times, but if you have ever gotten your hands dirty and made a movie, occasionally that does happen. I really liked this book.
Feb 21, 2017 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book. I picked it up months ago after listening to an interview with Rodriguez on Tim Ferriss' podcast, but got around to reading (and finishing) it a couple of days ago.

With some exposition, this book is mostly a collection of journal entries during the planning, production, release and aftermath of "El Mariachi". The movie was supposed to be a learning process for Rodriguez, a young filmmaker with little full-length experience, but once complete, the film took on a life of its own
Feb 07, 2017 Aslı rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as a 23th birthday gift so I was pretty excited to dig into it. And it did not dissapoint even though it wasn't what I expected. Most of the book consists of Rodriguez' journal entries from when he came up with the idea of making his first "practice" feautre film for a very limited budget. There isn't really a guide or tips in this book, especially considering the film industry changed a lot since 1993 and knocking on people's doors doesn't work as well. But one thing it suc ...more
Roger Mendoza
Feb 13, 2017 Roger Mendoza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like his philosophy that dreams are easy to attain as long as you work hard towards them. And, that sometimes natural talent is more useful than formal education in reaching a goal. He's talking about becoming a film maker. I think his message also applies to writers.
Dec 31, 2014 Soho_Black rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, used-to-own
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
Mar 18, 2017 Jay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an incredible book! A must-read for any and every filmmaker wanting to make a feature film (or a short film!) A beautifully honest, real and assuring account of a man who went and did it and who has so much knowledge and advice to pass on. If you're in a creative slump, read this!
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
Paul Davis
Oct 05, 2016 Paul Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my second time reading this, and while I feel like maybe I got a little more from it the first time through, it's still a pretty motivating read. I can't help but think, however, that quite a few struggling filmmakers may resent how easy it seems like his career came to him after making one movie while they are probably struggling for a lot longer before anything happens for them.
Dec 02, 2016 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A classic rags-to-riches story. Rodriguez has what many would consider the magical combination for success:

- Experience (making short videos and films since he was 12)
- Passion (love of the craft itself vs. seeking fame and fortune)
- Panache (how mental do you have to be to sell yourself to pharmaceutical companies to finance your film, even though you’re literally broke otherwise? Pretty mental (and metal).)
- Tenacity (frequently worked 12-14 hour days and got himself sick)
- Talent (read the s
Gabriel Mota
Feb 08, 2017 Gabriel Mota rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cinema
It's a nice, inspirational book. A true example of someone who did what had to be done to get there. Having some self taught experience with filmmaking, Rodriguez needed "only" the financial support and submitting his body for guinea-pig experiences is without question something most of us wouldn't do. The ability to direct an entire movie without crew is also something amazing, even if not really doable nowadays.

Can his formula be replicated? No, I don't think it can.
First there is much more "n
Teri Temme
Sep 22, 2016 Teri Temme rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"They can't make their movies more creative with money. Only more expensive."
Feb 20, 2017 Saila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspiring, and insightful. It was awesome to see how much and how little has changed in the film industry since the nineties, and where Rodriguez's career has gone since then
Sep 20, 2013 Masterofoneinchpunch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cinema
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.

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
Alexandre Vale
Sep 07, 2014 Alexandre Vale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 05, 2008 Professor rated it really liked it  ·  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
Carlos Marin
Oct 20, 2011 Carlos Marin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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