El Mariachi is the most profitable low-budget movie of all time. Made on a shoestring budget of $7,000, it earned over $2 million in American distribution. So how did such a low-budget foreign film become so successful? Perhaps you recognize the director, Robert Rodriguez. Long before making a name for himself, Rodriguez was just a poor college student with a passion for filmmaking. El Mariachi was shot entirely in Mexico with only amateur actors. A lot of the technical work (directing, producing, writing, cinematography, editing) Rodriguez did himself. While intended to be direct-to-video, Colombia Pictures discovered it and liked it so much that they poured over $200,000 into it just to release it theatrically. El Mariachi tells the tragic tale of a nameless aspiring musician just trying to find work. Until his guitar case attracts some unwanted attention. Since a criminal in town just so happens to be carrying an identical case full of guns. Leading to extreme violence, hilarious misunderstandings, and heartbreaking romance. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy El Mariachi as much as I did, but its uniquely familiar premise is a blast. The prospect of a great filmmaker shows even when there’s nothing to work with. El Mariachi serves as a reminder that anyone can make a hit as long as you have enough drive and passion.
Followed by: Desperado