Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player Info

Check Reviews and find answers for biographies of leaders, outstanding people and big historical figures. Before downloading your favorite book see our picks for the best biographies and memoirs of 2019. Read&Download Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player by Robert Rodriguez Online


Famed independent screenwriter and director Robert Rodriguez
(Sin City, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Spy Kids, Machete)
discloses all the unique strategies and original techniques he used to
make his remarkable debut film El Mariachi on a
shoestring budget.

This is both one man's remarkable story
and an essential guide for anyone who has a celluloid story to tell and
the dreams and determination to see it through. Part production
diary, part how-to manual, Rodriguez unveils how he was able to make his
influential first film on only a $7,000 budget. Also included is
the appendix, "The Ten Minute Film Course,” a tell-all on how to
save thousands of dollars on film school and teach yourself the ropes of
film production, directing, and screenwriting. 
A perfect
gift for the aspiring filmmaker.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player:

4

Oct 27, 2016

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 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 reputation to contend with fellow UT film school friends Richard Linkletter (Boyhood!!! and A Waking Life) and the universally acclaimed Quentin Tarantino). The story of selling his own plasma and robbing dozens of McDonalds for their ketchup packets and filming a full-length movie for an astoundingly tiny budget of $7000 are the stuff of film legend - particularly for this renegede who loves to be involve in every piece of production end-to-end. This is a great read and again putting aside the controversy about what came later (even if one has a hard time stifling a laugh during even the most grotesque scenes of From Dusk to Dawn or Planet Terror or Machete), no one can deny Rodriguez' particular genius that led him from broke visionary to Hollywood insider based mostly on this book and this initial film. ...more
4

Mar 31, 2008

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 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 word of advice rodriquez lays out. which essentially is to watch some movies, buy a camera, and get out there and shoot some movies.

his book is a quick read, to the point and more importantly it is incredibly useful information for any aspiring filmmaker. he broke all the rules, did everything his own way and still became a well-paid and better yet well respected filmmaker (that's if we don't count spy kids 3D or once upon a time in mexico).

even those who don't make movies, but like to watch the behind the scenes docs on the DVD extras will get a kick out of his smart-ass tone and rebel style. ...more
4

Dec 11, 2012

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 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 decision was brilliant: as soon as your write your first crappy screenplay, film it as cheaply as possible, that way you start getting both out of the way. I love the "learn by doing" approach, and the fact that not having a tripod and just having a shaky, hand-held camera actually works well if you're doing an action film, since it makes the scenes more lively than if you kept the camera still. The wheeling and dealing stuff near the end of the diary got kind of repetitive, but it's a fantastic book and a must for film fans. ...more
5

Sep 16, 2016

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.
5

Jul 13, 2018

the most important & useful thing you need to be a filmmaker is "experience in movies" ,as opposed to "movie experience"...
and what is a movie, anyway? a completely creative endeavor. Anything you can do to get away from the things that aren't important,the better chance you have of being truly creative...
There's a million different ways to achieve the same result, so find what works for you & DO IT !!!!!
4

Feb 05, 2020

I can't believe it took me this long to get around to reading - this was ridiculously inspiring, even for someone whose made several films. The advice is a bit dated, but aspiring filmmakers should have this on their must-read list.
4

Apr 20, 2015

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 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 Player”. I remember reading about him in Premiere at the time (though it was long after this that I got a chance to see the film - in fact, I think I saw “Desperado” first) and being impressed both with his attitude and his story. When I was in London recently, on the Crusty Exterior get-together, I found the book in Skoobs and picked it up and I’m glad I did. A diary, from 8th March 1991 (the start of the project) to 26th February 1993 (as the film opens wide), this follows the “El Mariachi” saga all the way through - we experience the highs, lows and great fun of shooting, the frenzy from the studios and what happened next. Rodriguez is a good guide to the whole thing, as amazed as anyone - though full of self-belief - and not quite able to believe his luck (but constantly thinking about how he can help his large family with the funds he suddenly has access too). It helps that he has a great approach and knows his stuff (and what he doesn’t, he’s more than willing to learn) and has clearly put the work in (his previous short films had won various awards at film festivals). The Hollywood experience is dazzling - he’s unsure about his “little” movie being on the big screen (“It’s not that I fear failure. I just fear failure in front of other people.”) - and absurd at times, though the roots of his on-going friendship with Quentin Tarantino are clearly shown, as both film-makers approach each other with mutual respect. The book also includes “The Ten Minute Film School” (a sort-of ‘call to arms’ that could apply to someone working in any of the creatives fields, that’s really quite galvanising) and the full screenplay to “El Mariachi”, with some amusing annotations. Funny, well told (though a bit of judicious copy editing wouldn’t have gone amiss) and thoroughly enthralling, this is a great read for anyone creative who’s ever had a dream. Highly recommended. ...more
4

Sep 05, 2017

Not sure why I didn't review this when I finished a couple months ago. As a fan of the Desperado movies it was fun to get this behind the scenes story. It was an easy read and a good story. Unlike many readers I'm not a film student so all that didn't carry as much fascination to me.
It's a classic Horatio Alger - rags to riches story - through hard work and unflagging focus on a goal he gets the big dream, happy ending. I liked the "read-my -journal" format and this speaks to the value of Not sure why I didn't review this when I finished a couple months ago. As a fan of the Desperado movies it was fun to get this behind the scenes story. It was an easy read and a good story. Unlike many readers I'm not a film student so all that didn't carry as much fascination to me.
It's a classic Horatio Alger - rags to riches story - through hard work and unflagging focus on a goal he gets the big dream, happy ending. I liked the "read-my -journal" format and this speaks to the value of journaling if nothing else. You can see Robert crafting his own narrative in the background as he goes through the journey. I don't buy all the "aww-shucks-poor-country-boy" stuff. He knew what he wanted. He worked tirelessly and sacrificed for it.
It's a great example of a growth mindset in action.
The American Dream.
Chris Russell - September 2017 ...more
2

Jul 16, 2009

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 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 advice that really helps him, but doesn't tell US what it is.

But overall, if you can get past the gloss of a self-marketing whiz afraid to tell the details (this book is all forest and few if any trees), the book is fun. It's not going to help you make your own movie on the cheap, but it very likely will motivate you to want to. And that's a start. ...more
4

Nov 23, 2015

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 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 much did everything himself. He wrote the script while donating his body to science testing drugs. It was from these tests that he got the initial capital to begin filming. He acted not only as director but also as cinematographer, lighting crew, sound crew, ADR guy, subtitler, catering, etc. etc. You name it, he did. It's incredible.

The book then goes into detail about how El Mariachi blew up popularity and the enormous amount of work it took to take it from 16mm film to large screen format.
This isn't the standard "making of" account. If you need inspiration to get your own creative project off the ground, then you should probably check this out to spark your drive. ...more
4

Jun 19, 2017

A good antidote for any excuses for not making the art that you want to.
5

Sep 22, 2016

"They can't make their movies more creative with money. Only more expensive."
5

Jan 05, 2016

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.
3

Dec 19, 2016

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.
5

Mar 01, 2010

Film director Mat Whitecross has chosen to discuss Robert Rodriguezs Rebel Without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Film-Maker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player , on FiveBooks (http://five-books.com) 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, 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 (http://five-books.com) 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, and that is how you learn by making your mistakes in private. ...more
5

Nov 10, 2014

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 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 recommended for do-it-yourself filmmakers and for anyone that thinks you have to be in Hollywood to make it. Bravo Mr. Rodriguez!! <3 ...more
5

Nov 18, 2015

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 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 that the work they've created is instantly elevated as a result.

If you're a sucker for non-fiction back stories as well I think you'll love this book. ...more
4

Sep 29, 2012

How do you make a movie when you dont have a Camera, dont have known stars, dont have crew to work for you, and more importantly dont have enough money? The answer lies in the first 70 pages of this inspiring diary of Robert Rodriguezs.

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 course 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 course on film making is a must read and his debut film El-Mariachi’s screenplay at the end of the book is a bonus.

I’m going with 4 out of 5 stars to this Crew less Rebel who is recommended to all the aspiring film-makers who has incredible talent but less on confidence levels.
...more
4

May 06, 2011

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 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 was chosen when a local musician sat down to play a few warm-up chords for him, and Rodriguez mistook for a song and loved it.

In a word, this book is instructive. I no longer make films, but when I did, I wish I'd had this amazing book as inspiration. Rodriguez does things that are so simple yet make total sense: in one part, he discusses writing the script around objects that he knew he could procure on set, such as an ornate bathtub.

For anyone who's a fan of the Rodgriguez oeuvre, it's a must-read!
...more
4

Apr 25, 2018

TLDR: Be a workaholic genius and you, too, can have success in Hollywood.
4

Jan 06, 2019

I have never been a big Robert Rodriguez fan. I respect him as a filmmaker but his films don't typically speak to me and while this book doesn't change my opinions on him as a filmmaker this brings myself a lot more respect to him. Rodriguez has an incredible story to tell about the making of his feature film and getting wrapped up in Hollywood because of it. If you are an aspiring filmmaker this more than a few lessons that are worth learning and is by and large inspirational. I know I took I have never been a big Robert Rodriguez fan. I respect him as a filmmaker but his films don't typically speak to me and while this book doesn't change my opinions on him as a filmmaker this brings myself a lot more respect to him. Rodriguez has an incredible story to tell about the making of his feature film and getting wrapped up in Hollywood because of it. If you are an aspiring filmmaker this more than a few lessons that are worth learning and is by and large inspirational. I know I took some lessons from it. ...more
4

Apr 03, 2020

Fun and fast-paced read. I've been meaning to read this book for at least ten years, for as long as I've been claiming that Robert Rodríguez is my tío or primo. Sometimes I forget which relation I claimed to which person. Pos, ni modo.
4

Oct 01, 2019

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Say what you will about Robert Rodriguez, but you cannot deny the man has come into his own as a true 'one man crew'. The versatile director of films like 'From Dusk till Dawn', 'Spy Kids', 'Sin City' (co-directed with Frank Miller) and more recently 'Alita: Battle Angel', the man truly knows how to make a movie fun and memorable, and can do most of everything on his own.

So it only seems right that he gets to depict his own enjoyable, if somewhat flawed, rendition of his rags-to-riches tale Say what you will about Robert Rodriguez, but you cannot deny the man has come into his own as a true 'one man crew'. The versatile director of films like 'From Dusk till Dawn', 'Spy Kids', 'Sin City' (co-directed with Frank Miller) and more recently 'Alita: Battle Angel', the man truly knows how to make a movie fun and memorable, and can do most of everything on his own.

So it only seems right that he gets to depict his own enjoyable, if somewhat flawed, rendition of his rags-to-riches tale about making his first feature length film, 'El Mariachi'. (I would like to note that I haven't seen the film itself, which may or may not have hindered my opinion)

Told in a diary format, which is how he wrote the inspiring story, he comes across as likable and friendly, and details his times getting funding through as a lab rat and finding distribution for his completed film. It is all interesting in some way, but I find the most interesting parts are about the making of the film; personally, I felt that Rodriguez should have spent more time talking about making the film and less on trying to get it released. Part of the problem is that the formatting doesn't allow for a well-structured story. It goes from skimping over some things and then spending too much time on others, particularly in the middle. At best, Rodriguez is kind and insightful; at worst, he drones on about things that slows the pace down. It tends to hinder his great tale rather than enhance it.

Despite the muddled structure, the book's saving graces are, surprisingly or perhaps not so surprisingly, when Rodriguez talks about how to bring creativity to your movies and even shows us his original screenplay for 'El Mariachi'. I found myself thinking of ways to make movies that I either never knew or needed to re-learn, and like Stephen King before him, Rodriguez encourages his readers to go out and make what they want and how to work around problems, some of which he points out in the screenplay section.

His inspiring and helpful comments that focus on spending as little money as possible yet still creating something worthwhile were fantastic to take in and it never seems like he is being arrogant or forceful, but rather tells us in a way that can help us be the best at our creative endeavours.

The story, although inspiring and fun to read, is altogether riddled with structural flaws and slow pacing; the filmmaking instructions and screenplay, however, allow us to see what he went through to make his movies and his work ethics. An inspiring story, of course, but a better filmmaking book than an autobiography. ...more
5

Jan 21, 2020

This has been on my "to read" list since film school. Probably a good thing I didn't read it in film school since it's so anti-school.**

I'm really glad I finally got around to reading this. Robert Rodriguez's point of view as he navigates the indie film world and -- suddenly! -- Hollywood movers and shakers is a delight. He's so fresh in the business that he sees everything with new eyes, and doesn't hold back on commenting about things that simply make no sense. That's Hollywood for ya.

Rebel This has been on my "to read" list since film school. Probably a good thing I didn't read it in film school since it's so anti-school.**

I'm really glad I finally got around to reading this. Robert Rodriguez's point of view as he navigates the indie film world and -- suddenly! -- Hollywood movers and shakers is a delight. He's so fresh in the business that he sees everything with new eyes, and doesn't hold back on commenting about things that simply make no sense. That's Hollywood for ya.

Rebel Without a Crew isn't the end-all/be-all of film making books. It should be part of your library on the subject, because it offers a particular and frank point of view. Some of Rodriguez's observations I didn't agree with, and that's okay. He's so insanely likeable that I'm on his side anyway.

In the end, this book and Rodriguez's experiences are incredibly valid and inspirational. You can feel a love of the subject, of making films and telling stories from his diary passages. It's a book that can start or renew a passion in film making, and even though the events he describes happened in the early 90s, they still apply today.

Not saying it wasn't totally weird to see Weinstein mentioned in there but hey -- innocent times, am I right? (I'm not.)

**that being said, I'm not going to advocate for you to definitely go to film school. It's expensive, so if you can just get on sets and learn as you go, that's still a valid way to figure out the business. I'm pretty neutral on the subject nowadays, and figure everyone needs to find their own path. ...more
3

Nov 27, 2019

OK, so I currently do not trust anyone who has achieved success in a risky venture/career and then proceeds to give advice and standby the idea that anybody can do what they did with some hard work. That always comes off to me as being somewhat disingenuous because there were so many unrecorded factors and heaps of dumb luck that lead to them doing the right thing or being in the right place at the right time. With Rodriguez's book, I think it found a decent balance of telling people there is no OK, so I currently do not trust anyone who has achieved success in a risky venture/career and then proceeds to give advice and standby the idea that anybody can do what they did with some hard work. That always comes off to me as being somewhat disingenuous because there were so many unrecorded factors and heaps of dumb luck that lead to them doing the right thing or being in the right place at the right time. With Rodriguez's book, I think it found a decent balance of telling people there is no excuse for not doing what they say they want to do and for explaining how rough it is to do it.

Although it explains the process of making an independent no-budget budget film back in the 1990s, this is a very inspiring book. The diary format for a majority of the book was the correct choice to show off Rodriguez's humor and go-getter drive for excellence. It shows off his confidence in and love for storytelling with an underdog level of ingenuity. Also, even though I am only familiar with his Spy Kids franchise because its my childhood, it was interesting to see his filmmaker persona emerge even in the making of his first movie, such as readily embracing and using innovative film technologies like CGI.

Will definitely borrow/rent El Mariachi soon. Would recommend to someone wanting to get a push to do what they really want to do. Still wish more specific advice was involved. Pleasantly surprised with reading the Mariachi screenplay used for shooting. ...more

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