In , at the age of 23, Robert Rodriguez set out on a mission: to produce his first feature-length film, El Mariachi. After being picked up by Columbia Pictures and wining the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award, El Mariachi is now considered one of the most commercially successful micro-budget films in the history of cinema. Rodriguez started with the desire of immersing himself in a feature-length production as the ultimate learning experience. Tired of making short films, Rodriguez set out on his own to produce three Spanish action feature films that he aimed to sell to the bottom feeders of the Latin American home-video market. Although on the surface it may seem that Rodriguez was making a cheap film to sell for profit, according to him the real motivation behind his venture was in fact to prepare himself for a career as a Hollywood director. He never intended for his first film, the first of his trilogy, to be released in America, let alone make 2 million in profits.
|Published (Last):||9 October 2010|
|PDF File Size:||13.95 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||15.84 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
In , at the age of 23, Robert Rodriguez set out on a mission: to produce his first feature-length film, El Mariachi. After being picked up by Columbia Pictures and wining the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award, El Mariachi is now considered one of the most commercially successful micro-budget films in the history of cinema. Rodriguez started with the desire of immersing himself in a feature-length production as the ultimate learning experience.
Tired of making short films, Rodriguez set out on his own to produce three Spanish action feature films that he aimed to sell to the bottom feeders of the Latin American home-video market.
Although on the surface it may seem that Rodriguez was making a cheap film to sell for profit, according to him the real motivation behind his venture was in fact to prepare himself for a career as a Hollywood director. He never intended for his first film, the first of his trilogy, to be released in America, let alone make 2 million in profits. Rather than begin with a script, Rodriguez rolled with an image.
From this concept, Rodriguez wrote an action script, typically worthy of a large budget, which he tailored to his minimal resources; a script he started and finished writing in one month, while in confinement in a drug testing facility, where he submitted himself to experimentation in order to raise money for film stock.
The screenplay tells the story of a romantic guitar player who goes from town to town looking for work in local establishments. Due to the fact that both characters are attached to their black guitar cases, the two figures are confused, and El Mariachi is forced to hide out in a local bar, where he finds and falls in love with Domino, the owner.
The film culminates in a final massacre, where Domino, Azul and Moco die, and Mariachi is shot on his hand, stripping him of both his love interest, and, almost certainly, his ability to play guitar. Rodriguez actually attacked the writing of this feature script by developing three short films and fusing them together. So what I decided to do is write a short film structure, and then repeat it three times.
With this scheme he succeeded in creating a film that entertained on the surface, but lacked sub-textual meaning and character development. One could argue that in El Mariachi, Rodriguez makes a comment about U. However, if these are the themes that Rodriguez chose to touch upon as a scriptwriter he failed to impregnate them throughout the film. The few conceptual, political, and social references that he makes come and go but do not remain in the mind of the audience.
Yet, the film offers no clear insight about it. Loneliness is just a characteristic of objects and characters present in the film, rather than the center of a conceptual discourse.
Rodriguez characters are either mono or bi-dimensional. Mariachi is a romantic musician capable of becoming a killer, Moco is a killer capable of falling in love, and Domino is a femme fatale, but that is it. The rest of the characters possess extremely confined identities, and have only one clear motivation for their actions.
By ignoring character development, Rodriguez looses the opportunity to engage the audience on a deeper emotional level and reflect on human nature. Thus, El Mariachi appears to be merely a shoot-em-up action flick rather than a dynamic thriller — There is excitement but not suspense.
The audience is entertained but learns nothing. This however may have been sufficient for his original target market — a less-critical, action-gorged segment of Latin American audiences. But why did Americans like this film so much? It was the insider film crowd that gave El Mariachi its glory. Perhaps film savvy spectators saw something that standard audiences did not: A Parody.
Rodriguez created a movie that was a mockery of the classic Hollywood action genre. He used, overused, and abused all its conventions including slow and fast motion, disposable characters, complicated chase scenes, fake guns, liters and liters of blood, exaggerated dramatic camera movements, and the landscape of a Spaghetti Western.
Furthermore, having done it with such a low budget and still being able to achieve more or less the same results of an expensive studio production exponentially increased the power of the joke. Rodriguez designed a script that he could shoot with the resources he and his friend, Carlos Gallardo, knew they would be able to obtain. He was almost a one-man crew.
He was his own Director of Photography, Gaffer, Sound Recorder, Special Effects Artist, and Editor — something only possible because of his unsophisticated but clear understanding of all the creative and technical aspects of filmmaking.
To be able to succeed with the budget he had, Rodriguez needed to work with a minimal crew. To work with a minimal crew, he needed to simplify many aspects of production. And to simplify many aspects of productions and reduce expenditures he needed to work with a minimal crew. He made a rule that he would not pay salaries or feed even one person on set because it would mean a sacrifice of useable and scarce production money.
Rodriguez had to be a stickler, even with his own health and hunger. Having a small team gave him the ability to move around easily and freely. He only needed a single vehicle to move his crew, his talent, and all his equipment from one location to another. Often he will then utilize that vehicle in front of the camera. A small crew also allowed for Rodriguez to be the single creative voice throughout the entire movie.
Rodriguez simplified many aspects of production including costumes, props, lighting setups, art direction, special effects, and the equipment package. He had the actors wear the same clothing from their own closets throughout the film, with the exception of Domino, who had four costume changes. This not only reduced cost and saved time but also prevented continuity problems. Consequently, for exterior scenes he relied on natural sun light and for interior scenes he mainly worked with two point lighting setups.
In some instances, when lighting big interiors such as the Corona Club Bar, Rodriguez had to use the regular bulbs that were available on location and mix different color temperatures. This gave an orange tint to the scenes that did not stand out on screen. It appeared to contribute to the dusty and hot felling that was part of the overall visual style of the movie. The simplicity of his lighting setups signified a great saving of time.
For the bullet shots, squibs were only used on the chest. It was the only area of the body that allowed room for mistake with his amateur special effects techniques. He only bought the guitar case, everything else was borrowed. He even got a bathtub from Alfonso Aura, director from Like Water for Chocolate, who had recently shot in town and brought a bathtub for his own film. He did not have to pay a sound guy, because he was the sound guy.
He did not even have to worry about masking the drone of his noisy camera or avoiding pesky boom shadows. To solve possible syncing issues, of which there were many, Rodriguez covered himself by utilizing effective and comedic insert shots, and cutting away from the character during portions of their dialogue.
This ended up defining the editing style of the film that to some extent challenged classic conventions, and was later embraced by the filmmaking community. However, it is important to notice that the cut that got to the big screen when through an expensive and long process of sound mixing, ADR, and foley. It may have been more cost efficient, if possible, to have recorded good sound while shooting.
The fact that the town was somewhat unregulated allow Rodriguez to get away with shooting on streets and public places without permits and borrowing real guns from the local police department to use as props in chase scenes in the middle of the town. The size of the town allowed him to move quickly from one location to another. Perhaps Rodriguez smartest production movement though was to cast Gallardo, his co- producer, as Mariachi. In El Mariachi, Rodriguez developed a rough cinematic style that was partially original and partially defined by his production constraints.
He combined cost-cutting strategies with standard camera and directing techniques of the action genre. Contrary to. El Mariachi was a film whose success did not depend on the perfection of any particular aspect of production but rather on the intelligent merger of less than perfect cinematic elements. The film had enough action sequences so that it did not depend on great dramatic performances.
The action sequences were intense enough to excite the audience but simple enough to be able to be produced without expensive special effects—no big explosions needed. Rather than focusing on obtaining exquisite cinematography, splendid art direction, astonishing special effects and impeccable performances, Rodriguez focused on achieving acceptable results in all these areas believing that once they were all put together they would complement and potentiate each other, proving that in filmmaking synergy is feasible—the whole can be greater than the sum of the individual parts.
Rodriguez had a deep understanding of his narrative which allowed him to be flexible during production. He was his own script supervisor and was able to keep consistency between scenes. He knew well what the dramatic and clarity needs of the film were, and therefore could easily edit and rewrite the script while shooting to accommodate to the availability of props, locations and actors without hurting the overall plot and the overall style of the film.
Several times during the shoot, Rodriguez went off script to include interesting locations and visual metaphors that he found driving from one location to another. When they meet up, the turtle close itself up on his shell while the Mariachi keeps walking. Reinol Martinez, the non-professional actor that played Azul, had found it on the highway a few days before the shot.
Rodriguez loved the idea of incorporating the turtle and asked him to bring it for the scene. Although the turtle was never in the script, it became a metaphor of Mariachi, a loner in the middle of a hostile land, and an iconic image of the film.
Similarly, the coconut stand scene was entirely improvised. On his way back to town from where they shot the scene with the turtle, Rodriguez and Gallardo drove by the stand and fell in love with it. As they were driving home, Rodriguez realized they never got a shot of Mariachi paying for the coconut.
Such explanation may have been unnecessary to the audience but is a good example of how Rodriguez approached the making of his film with a flexible mindset. Although Rodriguez did not draw a story board he designed his shoot carefully. He had pre-visualized all of the scenes that were in the script and studied with a video camera most locations.
He only shot what he was sure he needed. For the dialog heavy scene, he decided to shoot only a few lines at a time so that his cast did not have a hard time memorizing the lines and he could focus on getting an acceptable performance for each of the lines.
By moving fast on set he was able to keep up the moral of the cast and crew. Instead of moving the camera he merely zoomed and pulled back during each take to trick the audience to believe that he had gotten much more footage of each conversation. This could be an explanation for the unusual rhythm of the dialogue in many scenes. He did not shoot the entire scene in each camera set up but rather only the sections he knew were most likely to be used. He, to some degree, edited the film in his mind before he shot it.
Rodriguez developed a strong clear and effective visual approach for El Mariachi. He used a hand held Camera for most of the scenes and made his imperfect jerky movements part of his style. He used the camera as an active narrator of the story. The camera went where Rodriguez wanted it to go, following genre conventions. POV shots and dolly-in movements towards centers of attention, which he did with a borrowed wheelchair, are part of such conventions.
One of Rodriguez great failures in the film was his work directing an untrained cast.
Tag: el mariachi
More info about this movie on IMDb. Screenplays for You - free movie scripts and screenplays. About Links. He is carrying a greasy bag of fast food. He grabs a tin cup and walks over to barred entrance to Block A. The Officer rattles the tin cup between the entrance bar. The camera dollies slowly down the narrow hallway of the block which has three cells: Two small ones side by side, and one bigger cell that faces the block entrance.
Analyzing El Mariachi
El Mariachi is a Spanish-language American independent action film and the first installment in the saga that came to be known as Robert Rodriguez 's Mexico Trilogy. It marked the feature-length debut of Rodriguez as writer and director. The success of Rodriguez's directorial debut led him to create two further entries, Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico For the two sequels, Antonio Banderas took over from Carlos Gallardo for the main character El Mariachi, though Gallardo co-produced both films and had a minor role in Desperado. In , El Mariachi was inducted into the Library of Congress to be preserved as part of its National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". After breaking out of jail in a small Mexican town, a ruthless criminal, nicknamed Azul, ventures off with a guitar case full of weapons and vows revenge on the local drug lord , Moco, who had him arrested in the first place. Meanwhile, a young musician arrives in town carrying his own guitar case which contains his signature guitar.