how do I get started?



Much like this board i am new and i want to get into directing films, what is the best way to do this? what is the best directing school? do I need to be an actor first.


New member
A really cool thing for beginning directors is to watch Robert Rodriguez's 10 min film school. It is on the special edition DVD of El Mariachi. It is really good in terms of directing shots and thinking like an editor when on set. Do you need to be an actor first? No, but an understanding of acting is a very essential part of directing. To get the actor to give you the performance you want it really help to know how to talk to them. How do you learn to talk to them? Well thats a whole nother story....

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member


This is the kind of information we need on this site. We just got started and we need posters like you. thanks again



I have difficulty understanding why Rodriguez is still so frequently referred to as the guru for the beginning filmmaker. Is it simply because he has a cool book?

It’s kind of disconcerting considering El Mariachi, the film from which he received initial recognition, was essentially an incomplete film. No disrespect to Rodriguez and his current endeavors, but to confirm this assertion, Mr. Rodriguez remade El Mariachi entirely, and renamed it Desperado. Thus, further emphasizing that it should have been much better to begin with.

I understand that Rodriguez’s penchant for digitized philosophical anecdotes is an inspiration to those aspiring filmmakers who have yet to understand their full potential, but the success of El Mariachi simply proved that you COULD have made it into the biz if you WERE in the right place at the right time.

Regardless of whether or not your first directorial piece was as quality calibrated as Welles’ directorial debut with Citizen Kane or as poorly contrived as any B Movie horror flick made throughout the eighties into the early nineties, it must be noted that El Mariachi was released in 1992, at the beginning of the Indie film boom. But it's been over 12 years now!

Rodriguez just happened to strike at the right time, and Indie films are not what they used to be, nor are they ever going to be. But that's a whole different discussion all together and I don't have the time or the allotted character space to go into further detail.

Chris Cunningham Injected Pure Uncut Binary Code into my spine and it is making my eyes drip with envy.


New member
I don't know if I would call Rodriguez a guru, your right in that. But I think what makes El Mariahi Such a cool thing is that he made it for 7 grand. It 's an example of what someone can do with little to no money. Rodriguez is very creative in the way he shoots so that he saves money. I think often times new film makers spend more money than is neccisarry because they think it is neccesary when it's not. Sure Rodriguez made the same movie again but better. He had a studio behind him. Didn't Lucas try and do the same thing with the first Star Wars Episodes made. He had money so he wanted to do it better. I just think a lot can be learned from him in the sense that you don't need cents. Being creative makes film making fun and makes the budgett last a little longer.


That's cool, as an indie I relate to the budget conscience rationale. I just don't understand the sustained infatuation? Especially when considering the time period and the expectations placed on indies back then compared to indies now, it's an entirely different strategy now.

I’m watching the 2004 independent spirit awards and I see nominated films like, American Splendor, Monster, and Lost in Translation…these are indies now. They’re of professional caliber, yet they’re indie. I make indies, and I’d like to convince myself I could compete with them, and maybe when I get the funding I will, but I can assure you, Robert Rodriguez would not have been anywhere near achieving the same recognition had he tried to push something like El Mariachi through the mainstream currents of indie filmmaking today. That’s all I’m really trying to say.

Anyhow, I know Lucas did remake a student film of his while attending USC, transforming it into THX1138. I actually have a copy of that film, and another student film of his called Freinheit; pretty cool stuff.


New member
I suspect that 'El Mariachi' would do as well among people who like real independent movies as it did back then: the 'indie' movement seems to have been subsumed into mainstream Hollywood, just as so many others have been before.

I mean, few real independents have, say, contacts at Miramax to give them $10 million to shoot their 'indie' gay RomCom starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brad Pitt with the pull to get a screening at Sundance, they have to make do with budgets of a few thousand dollars up to maybe a million or so if they're really lucky, and show them at independent festivals.

Which, I should add, is not a whine because I can't get $10 million from Miramax, I'm just pointing out that the 'indie' term is being applied to movies which are about as far from an indpendent movie as any big Hollywood blockbuster. If people can get their money, good for them, but don't expect anything but a laugh from me when they claim to be 'independent': in many cases today it's just a marketing gimmick for yet another Hollywood movie.

Steven Jackson

New member
Individual directors...

Individual directors...

A person who directs has their own interpretation but tries to get as close to the mind set of the storyteller. Of course knowig the script is very important on everybodies part. Some times re-writes are not needed.

The director familiarize him or herself with the acting abilities of those people cast. I've listen to performers say they appreciate when the director trust their acting sense and allow them to
give input to a scene or dialogue. Some actors will express their
value for a director if he or she has had acting experience. The actor feels the director has a better understanding from the actor's point of view.

Some directors who never act on stage or screen can natuarlly move people, with their egos, around a scene with no problem.

Directors, actors and everyone else who takes part in making a movie bring their own style to the table base on their
know-how and school of thought !

I'm sure all of us can look at a scene with a director's eye and say,
"I would have done that this way". Or from an actor's view,
"I would have said it like this...". I say that to say...
To each his own.

I would like to mention you have indies filmmakers who never look
to hollywood for backing and still become very successful.


yes, rodriguez made el mariachi 3 times. i think hes great technical wise, but not very creative when it comes to the story, and the way of telling it. i dont enjoy his films too much at all. but i do appreciate el mariachi for what was accomplished with that small of a budget. the dvd commentary is good, and at least helps to motivate you, and tells ou some interesting tricks, and mistakes that rodriguez was able to get away with. the book helps as well.


I was much in the same boat you are when I started out, so this is what I did:
I went to my local library and got all the filmmaking books they had and read them. I copied pages, I took notes, and then I went out and bought some more books. I watched films to see the techniques the books described. I taught myself the basics and went out and practiced. And say what you want about Rodriguez, he does make one very good point: just go out and make a movie. That's the best way to learn.


Good advice JBird,

I truly meant no discredit to Rodriguez or any filmmaker who studies and/or admires Rodriguez and his films. I recognize him as a great talent and I really admire his willingness to help other filmmakers. Contrary to my previous posts, I've realized that if Rodriguez were 24 years old today, making El Mariachi or any movie, he'd probably do just as well, if not better.
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OKay I am just gonna come out and say it. Robert Rodriguez is most commonly referred to for the fact that he for

1. Made a flick for $7000
2. Revolutionized Digital Filmmaking
3. Inspired many young filmmakers to make their films
4. Helps us all in oh so many ways
5. He teaches any one who will listen

Now tell me that is not one hell of a man.