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Robert Rodriguez


Zachary Ingle

Publication Year: 2012

Rogue filmmaker Robert Rodriguez (b. 1968) rocketed to fame with his ultra-low-budget film El Mariachi (1992). The Spanish-language action film, and the making-of book that accompanied it, were inspirational to filmmakers trying to work with the most meager of resources. Rodriguez embodies the postmodern auteur, maintaining a firm control of his projects by not only writing and producing his films, but also editing, shooting, composing, as well as working with the visual effects. He was one of the first American filmmakers to wholeheartedly adopt digital filmmaking, now the norm. Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003) helped bring back 3-D to mainstream theatres. He is as comfortable making family films (the Spy Kids series) as action (Sin City) and horror films (Planet Terror). He has maintained his guerilla filmmaking approach, despite increasing budgets, choosing to work outside of Hollywood and even founding his own studio (Troublemaker Studios) in Austin, Texas. He has also arguably become the most successful Latino filmmaker.

In this, the first book devoted to Rodriguez, interviews and articles from 1993 to 2010 reveal a filmmaker passionate about making films on his own terms. He addresses the subjects central to his life and work: guerilla filmmaking, the digital revolution, his family, and his disdain for Hollywood. An easy and frank subject, these portraits depict the rebel director at his most candid, forging a path for others to break free from Hollywood hegemony.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-xiii

Robert Rodriguez achieved a legendary status among independent filmmakers by his story of checking himself into a drug-testing clinic for the cash necessary to make his debut feature film, El Mariachi, released in 1992. Allegedly produced for just $7,000—surely one of the most famous budget figures in cinema...


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pp. xv-xvi


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pp. xvii-xxvi

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A Borrowed Camera, $7,000, and a Dream

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pp. 3-5

Robert Rodriguez’s Mariachi, an action-adventure about a musician mistaken for a gunslinger, has had audiences queuing up at film festivals from Telluride to Toronto and, more recently, Sundance. The twenty-four-year-old film maker never expected that his home-made Spanish language feature...

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Mr. Mariachi

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pp. 6-10

From 42nd Street to Rocky, Hollywood loves a good success story. But the incredible tale of twenty-five-year-old Robert Rodriguez, and his homemade movie El Mariachi, has taught Tinseltown a lesson in filmmaking it won’t soon forget. Rodriguez cut his teeth on consumer video gear, teaching himself...

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A Killer Sequel

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pp. 11-15

It has been two and a half years since Robert Rodriguez inadvertently joined the ranks of America’s hottest young movie directors with El Mariachi, the Spanish-language film he put together with little more than a 16mm camera and $7,000. To say El Mariachi exceeded all conceivable expectations is akin...

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From Rags to Riches

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pp. 16-19

Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s rags-to-riches story has become this decade’s Hollywood legend. In 1992, a twenty-three-year-old Rodriguez directed, wrote, produced, photographed, sound-recorded and edited an eighty-minute 16mm Spanish-language action feature called El Mariachi, with money earned...

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The Reformation of a Rebel without a Crew

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pp. 20-29

Robert Rodriguez (RR): When I first made El Mariachi, I got a deal with Columbia to make more movies. The first project I suggested was a remake of El Mariachi, with Antonio Banderas and music by Los Lobos, for about five or six million dollars. And that was the course we were going...

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The Power Couple: Robert Rodriguez and Elizabeth Avellan

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pp. 30-32

They are the power couple of Texas film. He writes, directs, and edits. She produces and takes care of the most minute details. He’s a shining hope of the do-it-yourself filmmaking ethic, totally fearless and a major player in Hollywood, California, and Hollywood, Texas, as well as the standard-bearer...

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Before Dusk Till Dawn

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pp. 33-34

After pitching the prequel idea, Robert and Alvaro Rodriguez were commissioned to script Hangman’s Daughter, with Robert overseeing pre-production. “I had to write the script, find a director, be a producer, and I hadn’t done this before,” he said. “It was bizarre. And it all came out cool. We kind of...

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The Faculty

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pp. 35-38

Like a Texas tornado sweeping across the land, director Robert Rodriguez and the creative forces at Miramax Films have spent the last few years tearing down and rebuilding the cinematic thriller genre. And now, for a third Christmas season, this explosive team will be reinventing the...

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The Mariachi Aesthetic Goes to Hollywood

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pp. 39-57

Robert Rodriguez is one of the more successful of the wave of young directors of the last seven or eight years, and to date arguably the most successful Latino director ever to work in Hollywood. Because they were made so cheaply, all his films have made money. Four Rooms may have...

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Deep in the Heart of Action

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pp. 58-63

Although known for the kinetic, blood-soaked genre films El Mariachi (1992), Desperado (1995), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), and The Faculty (1998), writer/director Robert Rodriguez also has a flair for the antic humor as evidenced by his wonderful segment in Four Rooms (1995) featuring...

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Robert Rodriguez

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pp. 64-74

Texas native Robert Rodriguez shot to fame in the early nineties as the man who made a movie for $7,000. Intended as a practice film for the Spanish-language direct-to-video market, El Mariachi became an art-house hit. Though crudely made, it displayed a breathless joy that continued through...

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A Digital Desperado

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pp. 75-77

Director Robert Rodriguez burst upon the filmmaking scene in 1992 with his self-financed feature El Mariachi, which he made in three weeks with a borrowed camera and $7,000. When the then-twenty-four-year-old, Texas-born filmmaker took the movie to Hollywood, Columbia Pictures bought it and signed...

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Secret Agents and Desperadoes

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pp. 78-82

Robert Rodriguez is on an action roll. His unique family film, Spy Kids, was deservedly one of 2001’s biggest hits. Rodriguez’s sincere, kinetic style connected with kids of all ages, and the script’s lack of postmodern cynicism was refreshing in a year of smart-ass children’s films. Although a sequel was certain...

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Working at the Speed of Thought

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pp. 83-101

It was a surprise that the man behind the family-friendly action-adventure was Robert Rodriguez, an independent, low-budget filmmaker responsible for the gritty and violent El Mariachi and its sequel, Desperado, as well as From Dusk Till Dawn and The Faculty, both horrific thrillers with comedic...

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Robert Rodriguez’s New Toy

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pp. 102-106

“They” is a four-letter word for Robert Rodriguez, writer-director of the groundbreaking indie film El Mariachi. The reason? Most times he utters the word, he’s referring to a place he’s shown no small degree of disdain for: Hollywood. Ironically, the story of his success in Hollywood has reached legendary...

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Moving in Stereo

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pp. 107-108

A: I wanted to bring stereo 3-D effects back to theaters. And I thought doing a sci-fi movie for kids and setting it in a video game would be a great way to do it. The first thing I did was get Chris Olivia, a lead artist at Troublemaker Digital, to work up some test shots using footage from...

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“I’m Able to Write the Score as I’m Shooting the Script”

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pp. 109-112

Film director/producer/writer/composer Robert Rodriguez made history in 1993 with his debut feature film, El Mariachi. Made as a student flick for only $7,000, it would become the lowest-budget movie ever released by a major studio. Ten years later, Rodriguez is once again setting the pace—as a film...

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Once Upon a Time in Moviemaking

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pp. 113-118

The adventure begins, as so many do, with the artist as a young man. At age seven, he is already a fixture at the revival movie house in San Antonio. The MGM musicals and Hitchcock double features deliver cheap thrills for a Mexican-American family that would soon number ten children. Mother...

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Triplets in Sin

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pp. 119-123

A one-man moviemaking machine, Robert Rodriguez is the flip side of Charlie Chaplin, who early on had the clout to control every aspect of his productions. Rodriguez did so out of necessity, being a barebones, independent filmmaker. But Rodriguez has continued filling virtually every role on his...

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Finding Redemption

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pp. 124-126

On a day in early March, Robert Rodriguez is feeling good about Sin City, his latest groundbreaking work of cinematic art. “The movie is insane!” Rodriguez exclaims from his home in Austin. “The trailers are pretty cool but the movie is everything I hoped for. I was hoping not to make a movie at all and...

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Double Trouble

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pp. 127-131

It’s Friday night at Robert Rodriguez’s compound, located in the hills outside Austin—far enough outside the city that you wonder, while driving there, whether you’re more likely to hit a deer, see a boy with a banjo, or get kidnapped by aliens. Inside the property’s stone gate, down a twisty driveway...

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Moving at the Speed of Thought

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pp. 132-137

Like any good revolutionary hero worth his cartridge belt, Rodriguez is engaging, generous, and completely without pretension. His first shot at the studio power structure was a cinematic Molotov cocktail lobbed from a shadowy bordertown alley and known as El Mariachi. Sixteen years later, Rodriguez...

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Exclusive Interview: Robert Rodriguez Talks Shorts

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pp. 138-142

It’s rare—if not utterly unprecedented—to have a filmmaker who moves so effortlessly between hard-R action films and the family-friendly fare. Robert Rodriguez, whose name stands simultaneously with Sin City and Spy Kids, returns to the big screen this week with Shorts, a series of intertwining short films...

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Two Days at the World’s Coolest Studio

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pp. 143-147

The reception area at Troublemaker Studios does not resemble that of your average movie-making facility. For one, the art on the walls is notably hipper, including an ultra-rare From Dusk Till Dawn poster by fantasy artist Frank Frazetta (only five in existence), a lurid painting called Shotgun Messenger by George...

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Robert Rodriguez and Nimród Antal Talk Predators

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pp. 148-159

On July 1, I got a chance to participate in a roundtable interview with writer/producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimród Antal about their upcoming Predator sequel, Predators. I’m really excited about this film, and hope people get a chance to see it in theaters. I feel like I haven’t really seen a lot...

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Robert Rodriguez, Film Director

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pp. 160-162

Provocative timing, then, for the release of Robert Rodriguez’s splattery “mexploitation” movie Machete, in which the eponymous Mexican hero (grizzled former jailbird Danny Trejo) and a colorful roster of Latino characters violently fight for their rights against a gallery of right-wing baddies, including...

Additional Resources

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pp. 163-164


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pp. 165-170

E-ISBN-13: 9781617032738
E-ISBN-10: 1617032735
Print-ISBN-13: 9781617032721

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2012