Rodriguez’s debut hits Baylor to inspire future filmmakers

By Ada Zhang
Staff Writer

Film & Digital Media and Phi Beta Kappa are screening Robert Rodriguez’s debut film “El Mariachi” (1992) at 7 p.m. today in Castellaw 101. The film screening is open to the public and free of charge.

According to IMDb, El Mariachi is an action and crime drama that follows a traveling mariachi who is “mistaken for a murderous criminal and must hide from a gang bent on killing him.” The film is 81 minutes long.

Dr. James Kendrick, associate professor of film & digital media, said Rodriguez made “El Mariachi” as a junior film student at the University of Texas at Austin.

According to IMDb, Rodriguez wrote and directed the film himself on a low $7000 budget shot in Mexico.

“He made the most of all of his resources,” Kendrick said. “He squeezed every resource for maximum impact. He was really inventive and clever and made the most of everything he had.”

Kendrick said “El Mariachi” received acclaimed recognition and won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Rodriguez’s debut film landed him a contract with Columbia Pictures, Kendrick said.

After his initial success, Rodriguez went on to write, direct, edit and produce around 12 movies, according to IMDb. His later works include “Desperado” (1995), “From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996), “The Faculty” (1998) and “Spy Kids” (2001).

Dr. Charles Ramirez Berg, senior professor in media studies, will speak after the film screening and answer students’ questions.

Ramirez Berg is the speaker at this year’s Roy B. Albaugh lecture on Thursday, sponsored by Phi Beta Kappa, said Dr. William Weaver, associate professor of literature. Ramirez Berg was Rodriguez’s professor at UT Austin when he made “El Mariachi,” Kendrick said, which means Dr. Berg will be able to share an insider’s perspective on how the film was made.

“He’ll also be addressing representations of Latinos in film,” Kendrick said.

Ramirez Berg’s areas of scholarship focus on the study of Latino stereotypes in Hollywood and the history of Mexican cinema, Weaver said. He is still teaching at UT Austin and has won many teaching awards.

“He’s a film enthusiast,” Weaver stuff. “He does all sorts of stuff on interpreting and critiquing film.”

Film students especially should be able to identify with Rodriguez, Kendrick said.

“It’s a film that was made by someone who was in their position,” Kendrick said. “For film students at Baylor, it’s evidence that they can do great things as well.”

Students do not have to be film majors to enjoy the movie, Kendrick said, because “El Mariachi” is an action movie that students tend to like.

“We hope students from all different areas come out for it,” Kendrick said. “There’s a lot to learn. Film students will be particularly interested, but it’s a unique film. Students from all different walks will enjoy it.”

Kendrick said after watching “El Mariachi,” film students will feel inspired by how Rodriguez was able to create the film with such limited resources.

“Here’s what one college student did — and they can do that too,” Kendrick said. “Sometimes students get frustrated with limited resources. They don’t have the same resources as professionals, but you can do a lot with a little if you’re creative.”