Since I’ve been writing these book reviews as a way of sharing my own film-making self-education. The first thing to mention is what kind of audience I think Rebel without a Crew is appropriate for. In some ways Rodriguez’ book is most appropriate for those of us who want to make movies. However it is so entertaining and the El Mariachi stories are so cool that I think any indy film buff will like this book.
Everyone’s heard of a bucket list, how about a cold beer list. After reading this book and watching 10 minute film school, I’d put Robert Rodriguez on any top 10 list of people I’d like drink a beer with. He is funny as hell and tells a great story.
As the title suggests, this is not a book about making Hollywood movies. Rodriquez made El Mariachi with his buddies, a borrowed 16mm camera, some cash he got from selling his body to science and a script he thought of as something to practice on. If Neil Young is the godfather of grunge, Rodriguez is the Patron Saint of indy films. The problem is our idea of an indy film is still a millions of dollars affair. His idea of being a true one-man-band is really worth some thought before your re-finance your house to make your first film.
“The creative person with limitless imagination and no money can make a better film then the talentless mogul with a limitless checkbook every time.”
In the film Inception the story turns on the concept that a single idea can be really powerful, that it can change someone’s life. Rodriguez had one of those singular life-changing ideas. He wanted to write a script. Someone told him that everyone has two bad movies in them, so the advice offered was write two scripts and throw them in the trash. Then write a script to shop around. Rodriguez didn’t think he would have the discipline to write something knowing it was going in the trash. So his singular life-changing idea, write a script and make a movie from that script. That way he would get practice at both. To sweeten the idea he figured he could make it on the cheap then sell it to the Mexican film market for just enough to cover the costs of making it and one more practice movie. You guessed it, he didn’t make a movie for the trash, he made El Mariachi.
Not only did he make El Mariachi, he kept a diary of the whole wild ride. That’s the meat of Rebel Without a Crew. It’s fully worth reading the story, it’s not only highly entertaining it will motivate you to make your film.
Rodriguez really is a rebel. Just like David Mamet, who says Hollywood producers have no souls, Rodriguez doesn’t have much patience for capital “P” producers. He is so convinced that breaking the rules is the first step to creativity that he urges you not only to break all the Hollywood rules but to break his rules too.
“question everything because it can all be rethought and improved… in the end the only techniques worth knowing are the ones you invent your self.”
Here is the original 10 Minute Film School:
As if Robert hasn’t taught you enough about filmmaking here is 10 Minute Cooking School, as I said this is a guy you want to have a beer with.