Stupid Indie Tricks- The Rodriguez List

When the American Director Robert Rodriguez decided to make his first full film, El Mariachi, the first thing he did (even before writing the script) was sit down and make a list of all the possible resources he had available to him.

He did this because he knew if he wanted to make the best film he could for the little money available, he had to make the best possible use of all the resources he could get his hands on. He felt that if he just used what he had, instead of worrying about what he didn’t have, he could produce a much better film.

He was right, El Mariachi was made for $7000, and would later catapult him into Hollywood success as a man who could produce quality work for a budget. He chronicles this in his book Rebel Without a Crew, which is good reading for any aspiring filmmaker.

Later on, in the book DV Rebel’s Guide (also more good reading), Stu Maschwitz would use the term “Robert Rodriguez List” to describe following Rodriguez’s approach and making a list of all your assets and resources before you start to plan your first film.

I recommend you do the same.

Whether you know what you want to make, or are just trying to come up with something worth making, sit down and make a Rodriguez List beforehand. In it, try to include ever single relevant asset you have available to you, up to and including…

  • Camera Gear (Mobile Phone, DSLR Camera, Webcam, whatever can film!)
  • Sound Gear
  • Software
  • Your skills/talents
  • Your strengths and weaknesses
  • Places to film you have access to in one way or another.
  • Vehicles
  • Clothes (especially special or unique stuff)
  • Lights
  • Props (Swords, Wheelchairs, Power Tools, anything useful)
  • Set Decorations
  • Makeup
  • People who can act.
  • People who like you.
  • People who owe you favors.
  • People who know people who can act.
  • People who have equipment you could use.
  • People who have access to locations to film.
  • People who can help you carry your gear or drive you around.
  • People who you can consult/ask for help in your weak areas.

Basically, you’re listing anything or anyone you think might be remotely useful in making a film. It doesn’t matter whether you use it or not, it helps you have a realistic idea of what you can pull off before you even plan. Even if you don’t use it on this project, you might end up using it on the next one!

One tip with shooting locations- remember that what looks boring and commonplace to you might still look exotic and interesting to someone who lives far away from you. Don’t always think you need locations that look exotic and different to you, because they might look boring and uninteresting to others.