We all know Robert Rodriguez. Not only did he make his first feature for less than $8,000 and share every step of that process in his book Rebel Without A Crew, but he's gone on to shoot countless other features and even found his own television network. For anybody wanting to make their first film, but is not sure where to start and what steps to take, a video of one of Rodriguez's famous 10-minute film schools has been making its way around the web, and it has the answers that you're looking for in a way that only Rodriguez can provide. So if you've got a few minutes, here's Robert Rodriguez, the man himself, to tell you exactly how to make your first film.
Just as a heads up, this video first aired in 1993 (before some of you were even born), so not only has filmmaking technology progressed ever-so-slightly since this lesson occurred, but the visual quality of the video itself is pretty awful. Luckily, the content is outstanding. Have a look:
There's so much that we can learn from Rodriguez here. First and foremost is attitude. One of things that Rodriguez hammers home is that if you want to make a film, there's not much standing in your way other than yourself. Stop wanting to be a filmmaker and start calling yourself one. Then go out and make your film. There will always be obstacles, but there will also be unlimited creative ways to navigate those obstacles while still getting your film made.
Then there's the Rodriguez method for previsualizing your first film. You can storyboard if you want, but he recommends that you sit down without any distractions and try to watch your movie from start to finish, shot for shot, cut for cut (all of this is in your head, of course). He says to watch it, then write down what you see. Visualize the shots that you need, then just go get those shots. If you can see how your movie should look and feel before you ever roll a camera, you'll have a much better chance of getting the footage and story that you want.
Beyond those fun and practical ideas, this video is also a veritable goldmine of inspirational Rodriguez quotes. Here are a few of my personal favorites.
- "Tell everyone that your mistakes are art. You can get away with a lot that way."
- "If you're just creative, you'll always have to rely on technical people. If you're creative and technical, you're unstoppable."
- "Take stock in what you already have. If your father owns a liquor store, make a movie about a liquor store. You've got a dog? Make a movie about your dog."
Perhaps the most inspirational thing about all of this is that Rodriguez did it all before filmmaking technology was "democratized." There were no inexpensive DSLRs or free NLEs, and the internet was nowhere near being able to provide a platform like YouTube or Vimeo for everybody to showcase their work. Many of the obstacles that Rodriguez explains how to avoid in this video don't even exist in 2014. With that in mind, the overarching message of this video is even more relevant and easy to achieve today that it was 20 years ago: if you want to make a movie, the only thing standing in your way is yourself.