I’ve written about Spike Lee’s diary for “Do The Right Thing” and Soderbergh’s “Sex, Lies and Videotape.” Two of the greatest three film diaries in history. The number one film diary every published has to be Robert Rodriguez’s “Rebel Without a Crew.”
The account of how a broke Latino film student gave his body to medical experimentation to raise 7 Gees to make a Mexican action film to sell to the VHS Latino market. You live every moment of Rodriguez’s adventure like a fly on the wall.
From the making of his 16mm short, “Bed Head,” to his Cuckoo’s Nest-eske days at the experimental medicine facility, where he cast the James Spader-looking bad guy for “El Mariachi” to filming the historical no-budget action film with only himself as the crew (he would shoot a take on film, then hold the boom himself and record the sound), the agony of synching up the film, eventually getting in Sundance, his numerous trips to Hollywood, where he would be flown from Austin and given a stipend (though, he would sleep on a friend’s couch and keep the money), to having his Mexican action film distributed by Columbia Pictures, ending with finally receiving a check (a 15 grand down-payment) and going grocery shopping with his then-wife, Elizabeth Avelan.
This book is a Hollywood dream story that is too good not to be true. The fact that “El Mariache” was such a great action film elevates this book to greatest film diary ever written. There’s energy pouring out of this tale. This man had nothing, donated his body to medicine and became a Hollywood director. What more could you want?
Written by: Norith Soth