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Old March 29th, 2006, 04:20 AM   #1
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Rodriguez success yet to be replicated?

Just a thought, call it negative if you will.

Robert Rodriguez got lucky over a decade ago, he hasnt kept any secrets on the process that made him succesful, even writing a book about it.

The thing is,that in all this time, nobody else has done anything similiar. Sure people have made movies, and got somewhere, but, who's done what he's done, with full control, his own production cmpany away from hollywood, shot edit cut etc?

-shows just how unrealistic it is that anyone who makes a film ,even on 16mm, can go on to a career like his.


(on another note: RR says he uses no crew really, maybe another operater and a grip, sound guy. If you look on the credits of sin city theres gotta be like a 40 man crew)
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Old March 29th, 2006, 05:31 AM   #2
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I think aspiring filmmakers need stories like his to get them through, and its a good thing it doesn't happen that often because it lets new filmmakers think that just maybe it will be them next.

We all know the odds of it happening are extremely slim and then some but we also know that it can be done and thats enough.

Call me an optimist but I guarantee that there is a completely new and origional concept that can be done for next to nothing and it will make millions.

All we have to do is come up with it ;) and in the mean time we work.

Andy.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 12:00 PM   #3
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one can read all the books , make 1 or 100 projects - one can be very good at what they do BUT good isn't good enough to make it where RR has gone.
there have been others that came out of nowhere BUT they only had a one time hit/idea = they didn't make it after that because they had no other original idea's ...
RR had more then talent - he did his own thing !!! not somebody elses , he walks his own walk and talks his own talk = you can see his movies and they have RR elements... just like you can see a SP film and see steven speilberg elements = they have their own distinct "thing" .. the other 90% are just followers/copiers..
you may have seen the persons doing the indiana jones thing here on another thread few months ago. IMO they do show possible talent BUT they should be making their OWN project not a Seven S copy .. the SS copy only shows me they really like indiana jones = they could do their own project using some of the elements of IJ but a copy shows me they have no original concept = they are not going to be following RR ... do you think RR would have made it if he had done a Indiana Jones project instead of his original idea. = NO
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Old March 29th, 2006, 12:41 PM   #4
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People concentrate too much on the technical aspects of production and not enough on the business aspects.

Talent needs to meet hustle. Just like in every industry.

How many times have you met people who know what they are doing but don't have the courage or ability to reach out and work with others.

Part of the allure of guerrilla filmmaking is the ability to do everything on a smaller scale. But the flip side of that is ghettoization and insularity.

Filmmaking is not like painting, poetry or writing a novel. It is collaborative and it requires hustle. Even the screenwriting part of that is collaborative (which shocks many beginner screenwriters).

I guarantee you Robert Rodriguez can hustle or has surrounded himself with people who hustle on his behalf or whose interests coincide with his at convenient times. The genius of Hollywood is that it facilitates getting projects done, even despite the quality of content. All production centers are grist for the mill or the oil for the works. Against that, Craigslist postings are not going to cut it.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 12:49 PM   #5
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What about Peter Jackson? The Wachowski Brothers?
Sure, Jackson started much earlier, but was still realatively unknown in the early 90's when Rodriguez was getting started.
How about Pixar as a company (first feature film 1995)?

This are just a couple wildly successful (more so than Rodriguez IMO) storys of rapid rise in the industry over about the same time period. There are very likely a good number of additional stories out there that are less publicized.

This doesn't diminish Mr. Rodriguez's accomplishments. I certainly admire his approach, techniques and convictions (and my kids LOVE his Spy Kids/Shark Boy films). But his success is not entirely an isolated incident. It happend before with the likes of Wells, Kubrick, Spielberg and Lucas.

There is a unique story for every success in the industry ... so "replicated"? Probably not. Even with the same opportunities, individuals will have different goals and choose different paths.

Still, the "kind of sucess" he's had is probably not as isolated as it may seem.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 01:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Donatello
they could do their own project using some of the elements of IJ but a copy shows me they have no original concept = they are not going to be following RR ... do you think RR would have made it if he had done a Indiana Jones project instead of his original idea. = NO
You have to give these guys a break........I think in the case of the IJ thing it has grown arms and legs. I don't think they expected it to get as far as it has and therefore you can't judge there origionality based on something they did for a laugh.

As you said they have talent and the drive to get up and do it. Anyway the guy that wrote it is still in Uni.....if I had a film like that back when I was in film school I would have been really proud of myself.Lets see what they come up with next.

Andy.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 09:15 PM   #7
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Well first off, Rodriguez has a big crew, but it's mainly smaller roles. He does have his go to DP, but a lot of his stuff he wants to have his hands on the camera himself. Same thing with editing, he has people who help with editing but it's still his cuts. When you see titles like, "Directed, Shot, Chopped" it doesn't mean he didn't have help, hence the 40+ man crews. However, it's still his movie, his ideas, his camera work and so on.

As far as no one else coming into success such as he did, I've been thinking about that for awhile. To me it seems like he was at the right place in time with the right ideas. In the digital time we are in now, anyone can make a "presentable" movie, it doesn't mean they know what they are doing, but at least it's not from a handycam. The market is so saturated with people that own thier own DVX or XL2, which can enable them to create wonderful pictures, but they don't have the ideas behind those pictures. RR was in a time when if you wanted to make a movie, you did it on film, which cut out all of the "wannabes" with the cost of film alone, not to mention you have to know at least a little bit to get a proper looking image from it. And he knew enough to make it look good, but more importantly, he was telling stories in a completely unorthadox way.

Keep in mind that we are living in a world where people want it fast and now. Sorytelling isn't what it used to be, that's why these new "independent" films are so popular, they are the only thing that resembles what film used to be like, a way to escape. Of course these new "independent" films are made with a $10million budget, but they still aren't considered Hollywood. Hollywood films now are nothing but major action sequences, real life conflicts, or dry comedies made by major companies under the facade of an "independent" production company.

Like Ken said, it's a business. If you are going to make it huge over night, you have to know what people are going to want to see, what the fad of the day is, and who know's that better than the people who have been doing it for years?

People still do it, unfortunately for us, it seems like the new fad is established people making thier "independent" film. But things happen for new people to the business everyday, so don't get discouraged. Did you know that in order to qualify for an Independent Spirt Award, all it means is that you made a movie without going through a major production company, eg. Mirimax, Dreamworks, etc..., and your budget was under $20million. $20million dollars! I know how much you can do with that much money, and it doesn't include thinking of creative ways to tell a story.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 10:32 PM   #8
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In my opinion, you have to consider that:
A- Only so many people can be at the top.
B- People who are at the top tend to stay there, so there are only so many new openings.

If you look at the barriers of entry, in some cases they have been lowered. This is mainly in the documentary field, where films like Mad Hot Ballroom, Murderball, etc. (and to some degree, Michael Moore's work) have had theatrical releases while costing "little" to produce.

You also have to consider that it takes huge sums of money to market and distribute films, so that favours big-budget films. Even for low-budget films, there are significant costs in clearing music, distribution, marketing.
Mad Hot Ballroom paid $140k in music clearance, which was 45% of their production budget.

While these budgets are nowhere of that for Hollywood films, it's also significantly higher than RR's. But looking at it another way... if you were talented, you'd try to work with higher budgets for subsequent films. So only the first effort would have an extremely low budget.

Quote:
Like Ken said, it's a business. If you are going to make it huge over night, you have to know what people are going to want to see, what the fad of the day is, and who know's that better than the people who have been doing it for years?
I'd argue that "nobody knows anything". Hollywood sometimes puts out some really *bad* movies... the best example being the vehicle movies which get produced simply because there is star talent attached. Mariah carey / glitter, from justin to kelly, jessica alba / honey, saturday night alumni, etc. Some of these movies had rancid scripts and should've died at that stage.

On the other hand, you might be able to argue that it's rational to produce these vehicle movies even if the scripts suck. Some of these movies are profitable.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 06:08 AM   #9
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Very interesting thread, but doesn't this belong more in the Totem Poll board?
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Old March 30th, 2006, 09:57 AM   #10
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I think it is because a lot of the young filmmakers, don't want to learn the busniess aspect of it. And they are more focused on how to shoot the movie rather how to make a good movie, through telling a story. Also I think some just don't want to put in the effort of finding a good producer to help them get their movies done, and sometimes they never looks for helping hands to finish their projects. And I got to admit, I am a young filmmaker, and sometimes I do get caught up in the technical aspect more than the content.

Content is key, if you have a good idea and you get the right means of putting it into a movie, then I think you would be successful. As for why no one came to RR level, I think its because no one has challenged the system enough. And everyone, EVEN independents want to run their movie sets like the big guys and that is why RR is so unique he does not care for the rules of having like 40ppl behind the camera doing usless tasks that the camera operator could be doing him self.

Just my opinion, I love the RR approch of doing it your self, Write it, shoot it, cut it, and direct it your self. And that is the way I am going, and I think alot of young guys are going as well. I guess its just time before someone gets to that level. After all that is how they started out doing movies, even continued largly till the early 50's.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 10:56 AM   #11
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I agree with Michael that Robert Rodriguez was in the right place at the right time. He was able to shoot a movie on film when the sheer cost of the media kept a lot of people out. His genius (and I don't know if he was the first person to think of this) was to edit on video, bypassing a lot of the cost. Of course, none of that would have made any difference if the movie hadn't been pretty good and if he hadn't worked tirelessly to pitch it to distributers. The studios were just starting to search around for cool indie stuff at that time too. Would "El Mariachi" even get noticed if it were produced today? Hard to say. He's a big part of the reason that the bar has since been set so high.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 02:33 PM   #12
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i believe that making it as big and as suddenly as Rodriguez did, requires a combination of lots of things. I don't think that any of us are really going to be able to pinpoint one reason why nobody else has had that kind of success.

I do, however, believe that RR attracted a lot of attention to himself simply because he made a movie for so cheap, which is why i don't think we can count Pixar, the Wachowski Brothers, etc in the same category as Rodriguez.

Also, i remember reading a negative review of his book on Amazon from someone. He pointed out that Rodriguez got a LOT of stuff for free. He got his actors for free, the camera for free, even a city where he could run around with people carrying fake guns. Try THAT in the states and see what happens to you...

And didn't Steven Spielberg know someone in the industry that slipped him in? He went completely over budget on Jaws and almost got replaced.

I don't know what my point is... I think that in the end, it's all about luck and talent. Without luck, you don't get your first real shot in Hollywood, and without talent, you don't get to stick around long enough to make anything of yourself.

It's the luck part that has people frustrated.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 03:22 PM   #13
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I did a Google search for the phrase "luck is when opportunity meets preparation" and found it attributed to everyone from Oprah Winfrey and Vince Lombardi to Robert Evans. Regardless of who actually said it first, I think it pretty much sums up Robert Rodriguez.

I don't know why people make such a big deal about all the things he got for free. That's what every smart indie maker does -- take advantage of things you already have. I've seen Rodriguez speak, and that's one of the first things he said -- write your script around the resources you have available. I think he deserves a lot of credit for charming those Mexican police into letting him use their machine guns. Not a lot of people could have pulled that off. He used his charisma to secure the resources he couldn't pay for. Would it make it more valid if had shaken down a bunch of rich relatives to pay for the project? I'm reminded of the story of Melvin Van Peebles setting a real car on fire for "Sweet, Sweetback" so that he wouldn't have to pay rental on firetrucks. He just waited for the fire department to show up so he could film them.

Last edited by Marco Leavitt; March 31st, 2006 at 05:15 PM.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 06:48 PM   #14
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I think too many indies are trying to be the next RR. He wasn't, he was just trying to recoup the cost of the self-training movie he had just finished. It was an accident that it actually sold. Someone got hold of it at one of the big distribution companies and passed it around, it created buzz, then a bidding war.

All of the successful indie films coming out now have some "catch". That doesn't make a good director or writer, just a good one-off movie that has a novelty to it. The novelty tends to wear off. I think independent filmmakers (film or video) need to tell a story. I saw IJ a bunch of times in the theater when I was younger. That makes money. SS keeps his job because he makes movies that people pay to see.

Indipendent filmmakers make movies for other independent filmmakers. Commercial viability is how you get and keep any job. If you want to be a successful filmmaker, forget the novelty stories and start making and self-distributing good stories...someone will notice. When that happens, grab on and take it for a ride. If you try to negotiate too much ownership, you'll lose the opportunity.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 07:18 PM   #15
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The key is missing...

The key to this arguement is missing. El Mariachi was made at a time when action movies with "ok" plots were big. It was the 90's. Segal and Jean-Claude were huge. People wanted to see that kind of movie. Rodriguez made one on his own that was very similar to the big budget Hollywood films of the time. A lot of other people did as well, theirs were never screened and went straight to video at best. Some of them were better than El Mariachi but went unnoticed. So what was the key behind RR's success? Everyone would have you believe that it was the fact that he SHOT El Mar. for $7000.


The truth behind the story was that he met a man who knew an AGENT. RR got in touch with the AGENT on a good day and the AGENT happened to take a liking to his work and him. RR stayed humble and kept working hard and his attitude couple with the fact that he had one of the biggest agencies in Hollywood working for his exposure is what made him happen.


The AGENT (capitalized so many times for a reason) is the key behind his whole story. RR even says in his book that the agents he was working with told him at one point that they could decide who was or wasn't going to be "the next big thing".


His continued success is due to the fact that he always comes in under budget and ahead of schedule. When there is a lot of money floating around in rentals, insurance, interest, etc. RR's ability to come home early, with money in left in the bank makes him a very valuable man.
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