El Mariachi: 35 Facts - Raindance

El_Mariachi_jpgEl Mariachi is a landmark film in the history of cinema.

Shot, written and directed by a first timer, Robert Rodriguez, and produced by and starring Carlos Gallardo, the film won Sundance and was picked up for worldwide distribution by Columbia.

Carlos is presenting a one day masterclass in micro budget filmmaking on Saturday May 3rd in London.

This film is the first in a trilogy of films including Desperado, all written and directed by Rodriguez and produced by Carlos Gallardo.

El Mariachi is a fascinating case study on how major film careers were launched with nothing but charm and perserverance – and oh yes – talent.

El Mariachi: 35 Facts

  1. Carlos Gallardo and Robert Rodriguez made video movies for 8 years prior to El Mariachi. From Freshman High School to Seniors in college. They both quit in their 4th year of college to make El Mariachi.
  1. Carlos Gallardo worked as a production assistant on the feature film “Like Water For Chocolate” from January 1991 to May 1991. Inspired by what he had seen, he started prepping in May and June for El Mariachi in his home town sending Rodriguez a list of what he had available. Rodriguez was writing as Carlos was sending info.
  1. With a budget of only $7000 and shot on 16mm, El Mariachi went on to gross over $2 million and spawned a number of sequels.
  1. Robert Rodriguez always envisioned El Mariachi to be the first in a trilogy, ‘Desperado’ and ‘Once Upon a Time In Mexico’ completed the trilogy. Rodriguez wrote and directed all three movies.
  1. El Mariachi was made by 2 key people, Robert Rodriguez and Carlos Gallardo, one helper and the actors and filmed in less than a month.
  1. El Mariachi was made in Acuña Coahuila, Mexico, Carlos’ home town. He took care of all the production from permits, actors, locations, closing streets, city council permits, guns, squibs, to transporting the film to the labs for processing.
  1. El Mariachi was shot silently and audio added in post-production to save money.
  1. A broken wheel chair was used to achieve some of the tracking shots in the film.
  1. Often only one take was filmed for each shot to save time and money.
  1. Robert Rodriguez took part in clinical trials to help fund the movie, he wrote most of the script while being tested on.
  1. The script was originally written in English then translated by Carlos Gallardo into Spanish.
  1. Carlos served as lead actor and producer for ‘El Mariachi’ and went on to co-produce ‘Desperado’ and ‘Once Upon a Time In Mexico’ – the sequels to the original film.
  1. Carlos first fantasised about being in cinema at age six.
  1. Carlos began making home movies as a child and by 13 had directed his first movie on a camera loaned to him by a family friend.
  1. Carlos is from Acuna Coahuila, Mexico and is the youngest of three siblings.
  1. In 2007 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized Carlos’ long time work as a minority filmmaker and honored him and his long time friend Robert Rodriguez with the award “Oscar Night America”, this is not an Oscar but a recognition from the academy as a Latino filmmaker.
  1. El Mariachi was originally intended to be released on video in Mexico but Columbia Pictures liked the film so much they bought the Worldwide distribution rights.
  1. After buying the rights, Columbia spent far more than the original budget on post production, marketing and transferring the 16mm film to 35mm.
  1. For the jail scene, Rodriguez filmed at the local police station and used real guards in the film to save time and money.
  1. A number of local journalists didn’t approve of the filming of El Mariachi so they were given parts in the film to sway them.
  1. The actors would serve as crew members when not on camera.
  1.  “Rebel Without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker with $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player” by Robert Rodriguez is about the production of El Mariachi.

Carlos is presenting a one day masterclass in micro budget filmmaking on Saturday May 3rd in London.

  1. Carlos was born and raised in the town where El Mariachi was shot.
  1. Carlos was credited as Production Manager and for special effects on El Mariachi as well as being the co-writer, producer, lead actor and many more things.
  1. Carlos Gallardo went on to write, finance, produce, direct and star in another independent action/thriller ‘Single Action’ made on a budget of $11,000 over 2 weeks.
  1. El Mariachi won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award in 1993.
  1. The script was written to include elements at the makers disposal, such as local bars, a prison, a guitar etc.
  1. The most expensive aspect of the film was the film reels themselves and their transfer to video.
  1. All the locations were free in El Mariachi because Carlos knew everyone that owned them and approached them personally.
  1. Most characters wear the same costume throughout the film and are generally from the actors personal wardrobe.
  1. Peter Marquardt never mastered Spanish and so learnt his lines without actually exactly knowing what he was saying.
  1. El Mariachi was the Winner of Best Feature at The Independent Spirit Awards in 1994.
  1. In 2011, El Mariachi was inducted into the Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry.
  1. El Mariachi is in the book of records for the lowest budget film ever produced and distributed by a major motion picture company.
  1. A TV adaptation of El Mariachi produced by Sony Pictures premiered on the 21st January 2014 in Latin America on the AXN Channel in Spanish.

Carlos is presenting a one day masterclass in micro budget filmmaking on Saturday May 3rd in London.



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