August 30, 2017

Robert Rodriguez Will Give You $7,000 to Shoot a Feature in 14 Days

The DIY king is giving his fans the opportunity to start off exactly how he did.

Twenty-five years ago, a young kid from Texas came out of nowhere to produce one of the most successful independent features of all time. His name was Robert Rodriguez and his movie was called El Mariachi. Made for an incredibly modest budget of $7,000, the film went on to make a whopping $2 million at the box office. That's quite the profit margin.

In celebration of the anniversary of El Mariachi, Rodriguez is now giving five filmmakers the exact same constraints he had to make a feature of their own. For those keeping score, that's $7,000 to shoot and edit an entire feature film in just 14 days. Now, it seems the contest would be a little fairer if Rodriguez would be willing to adjust his contribution for inflation purposes, but hey, that's Hollywood, baby!

Plus, Rodriguez himself will be making a feature of his own for the competition—an effort he hopes will bring him back to his roots.

In partnership with Rodriguez's El Rey Network, the competition will also be filmed for a new six-episode series called Rebel Without a Crew, based off Rodriguez's popular DIY filmmaking book of the same name. Go90 will stream the six-episode, one-hour series about the making of the films as well as the final feature films. Filmmakers must be available to shoot for six weeks in October/November 2017 in Austin, Texas, so clear your schedule. 

To apply, you must be a U.S. resident over the age of 18 who has yet to direct a full-length feature. You also must have access to a script to which you own all the rights. Submissions are open now. You can apply here.      

Your Comment

22 Comments

I saw this a few days ago and was pretty interested in doing it just for the challenge, but it seems like they would own all rights to your film, and I didn't see any mention of compensation of time while shooting for their show, or any kind of profit sharing from any potential profit of your film.
It would be nice to know that stuff before signing up.

August 30, 2017 at 12:06PM

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Nick Brown
Filmmaker/Putz
191

The more I think about this & read the rules it just doesn't seem feasible. They already have all the locations set up & cleared for release. So I guess all filmmakers in competition will be making their films w/ exact same locations. Would have to fly my actors out to Austin, a city I know nothing about & there goes my budget w/ plane tix. This is a tough one for sure.

September 3, 2017 at 2:33PM

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drébaca
Writer- Director
4

Yeah, the requirement to shoot the film in Austin is beyond baffling. The way you shoot a no-budget film is by shooting it in an area you are intimately familiar with and have access to all sorts of resources.

September 4, 2017 at 2:27AM

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David West
Writer/Director/Cinematographer/Editor
739

Rodriguez shot El Mariachi in 1992 for $7000 which is atleast $20000-30000 in today's economy. Also the film was made by using the services of the entire city of Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico, because leading actor Carlos Gallardo was promised the lead role in exchange for using almost every service the city could offer. After all, his father was a hot shot there.

Though $7000 is not bad, because the cost of cameras and equipment has made filmmaking so much more democratic. You can buy a lot of equipment for $7000, and if the film is shot in 2 weeks, you an pull off a lot of stuff. One can get decent mirrorless cameras from Panasonic in the $1000 price bracket.

August 30, 2017 at 1:13PM, Edited August 30, 1:13PM

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sandy sandy
Filmmaker
9

Just looked it up. $7,000 in 1992 dollars is only $12,195.74 today. For that budget, I'd definitely rent nicer gear rather than buy. You can rent a C300 Mk II kit from Adorama for $885/wk.

If you have (or are) a good producer and know you're going to be on this show, I'm sure you can find someone to donate gear for publicity. I'm sure you can find a decent crew for $0, too...

August 30, 2017 at 4:21PM, Edited August 30, 4:23PM

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Fahnon Bennett
Director/DP
188

camera is very small segment of production.

August 31, 2017 at 9:38AM

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Sounds cool but I've got a day job. 2 weeks is doable but... even if I made it, that 4-6 weeks of filming for his show would leave me broke and/or homeless lol. That's a lot to ask from filmmakers who aren't established already.

August 30, 2017 at 4:54PM

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Brittney
Writer/ Director
1

$7K is myth and legend. thats about what he spent on 16mm film stock and processing. it took $200K in post to get the film into standard for release - edit conform, mix, grade, output prints. thats $500/day. you might feed a small crew and pay them gas money for that... but what about post ?

August 30, 2017 at 5:13PM

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Steve Oakley
DP • Audio Mixer • Colorist • VFX Artist
388

Davinci, Free. Fusion, Free. After Effects - monthly subscription, premiere, Monthly, Nuke, trial or monthly. Blender, Free. Maya 30 day trial or monthly, Unreal engine, free, I have 25 years of VFX experience and can tell you you can learn enough to do some decent composites and a competent color grade from a wealth of free sites. There's no such thing as output prints anymore. All distributors will accept Prores 4444

August 30, 2017 at 8:31PM

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Matt Drummond
Writer/Director/Producer
100

A lot of talk of inflation and other issues. This is why most people talk endlessly about making a movie and never will. Your barriers to entry are your own.

August 30, 2017 at 8:23PM, Edited August 30, 8:32PM

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Matt Drummond
Writer/Director/Producer
100

Ha! I was thinking the exact same thing Matt. :)

August 31, 2017 at 7:29PM

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Ron Dawson
Frame.io Blog Editor & Host of "Radio Film School"
238

The screenplay that I have ready contains too many locations for the $7,000 budget. If I had a script with only one or two simple locations, I could do it within that budget.

August 31, 2017 at 12:43PM

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Glenn Bossik
Videographer
456

Did anyone see deadline for when the script is due?

August 31, 2017 at 2:25PM

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Molly Kath Lewis
Writer, Director, Editor
108

There doesn't appear to be a deadline in the contest rules. That's why I went ahead and got me entry in ASAP.

August 31, 2017 at 5:19PM

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Travis Calvert
Writer/Director
107

Myself and friends just wrapped shooting the first 10 pages of our script (the opening scene).

Our 2 locations, camera and lighting were provided free of charge.

Crew consisted of film students from local schools (free).

3 actors were paid $100/day for 2 of the 5 shoot days.

We ate mostly pizza and drank LaCroix water.

We cut everything we could to the bare minimum and still spent $3000.

If you think $7000 is enough to shoot a feature, you are, either, extremely talented, resourceful and fast or quite delusional.

August 31, 2017 at 2:29PM, Edited August 31, 2:29PM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1047

Yeah, I've been wavering back and forth between whether I think it's possible or whether I think it's nuts.

I'd have to shoot in at least 2K raw, and the media storage costs would be substantial. I'd need at least three copies of all my media files.

I suppose the story could be restricted to one or two locations. The film, Clerks, took place in a convenience store.

August 31, 2017 at 3:06PM

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Glenn Bossik
Videographer
456

This almost makes me bummed that I literally JUST released my first feature film that I made for about $2,500, haha. They actually ask really good questions in the application. It's very thorough.

The biggest concern I would have is the thing about having to be in the Austin area for 6 weeks of shooting for the show. Are they expecting people to shoot their films in the Austin area? They can't possible be expecting that. That would make it almost impossible for anyone who doesn't already live in Austin to participated. I was able to make a watchable feature film for $2,500 largely by taking advantage of the resources I have here in southern Oregon.

August 31, 2017 at 11:17PM

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David West
Writer/Director/Cinematographer/Editor
739

Congrats! What's it called? I shot my feature "Error in the Ménage" in 10 days and under 5k. You can see it on prime.

September 1, 2017 at 6:35AM

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It's an adaptation of Pilgrim's Progress that I made for my church. Here's the trailer. You can watch the full film on YouTube as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISfiC_gY7xY

September 1, 2017 at 11:21PM

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David West
Writer/Director/Cinematographer/Editor
739

Suck!!! Completely inspired by Rodriguez I literally just did this. Calling in all favors and spending every penny I had. I Wrote, Directed, DP'd, Edited, Colored, created VFX, and scored my own flick. Shot with the Sony A7S-ii and 2 lenses. Then by a miracle got somebody to play it in some theaters.

https://youtu.be/koGY_fnxBTw

Rodriguez is my hero. I'd totally jump on this if I hadn't disqualified myself by doing my flick. Just write to your budget and show yourself as a storyteller, like Tarantino did for Reservoir Dogs.

Making movies isn't convenient. And it's hell in the directors chair. But if somebody gives you a chance, you just go... at least that's how I do things.

I'm saving up to do something bursting with action next and will probably drop my family back into the poor house after. But this is all I know and want to do... so I do it without a second thought. I'm totally curious to see what people come up with.

September 2, 2017 at 1:27PM

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Isaac Halasima
Director/Whatever it takes (writer/DP/Editor/composer)
6

That was a great trailer, man. I'd definitely watch the full film. I'm in the exact same boat as you, haha.

September 2, 2017 at 11:51PM

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David West
Writer/Director/Cinematographer/Editor
739

I'm often skeptical of "Film Competitions", especially the ones where a company will ask "Make a commercial and the winner gets $5k" or whatever. The company gets to sit back while hundreds or thousands of filmmakers work away for free to come up with the best idea. It's a very small investment for the company. With Rodriguez's competition, who is making the profit here? If Rodriguez is making a profit off the sweaty backs of desperate filmmakers, than shame on him for putting down such a low amount of cash. But if he is offering the money and not keeping the rights to the film or profiting from it, than great. But I have a suspicion that he would distribute it. As filmmakers, we are not often compensated for our skills. It would be like me asking "Carpenters, build me a house for 7k and the best house wins." I then get a bunch of desperate carpenters building great houses and then I get to live in it for $7k. Carpenters are not that desperate, but why must we scrape the bottom for any little bits that people throw at us. Hey, if a competition gets you out of your chair and making a film (although 95 percent of making a film is sitting in a chair, writing, editing, promoting), then that's fantastic, but it's sad that it takes a competition to get people motivated.

September 2, 2017 at 1:43PM

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Does anyone know the due date for this? I didn't see it on the application or here, my apologies if it's obviously stated somewhere that I missed.

Thanks

September 5, 2017 at 11:15AM

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Nathan Karimi
Writer/ Director
209