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Robert Rodriguez: 1968—: Director, Filmmaker, Screenwriter

Won Way Into Film School

Attending St. Anthony's High School in Austin, Rodriguez did well enough to get into the University of Texas but did not make the grades necessary to win admission to the university's film program. Nevertheless, Rodriguez flourished as a student at Texas. He created a popular comic strip called Los Hooligans for the campus Daily Texan newspaper and drew political cartoons, winning Columbia University journalism awards for both activities, and he continued to make short films, accumulating a collection of about 30. A group of three, which Rodriguez entitled Austin Stories, won Austin's Third Coast Film and Video Competition.

Rodriguez confronted the chairman of Texas's film department, telling him that he had won the top prize over the chairman's own students and demanded admission to the program. His request was granted, and he went on to film Bedhead, a continuation of Austin Stories. That film was entered in competitive film festivals all over the country, and Rodriguez walked away with top honors at 14 of them. Bedhead was also shown on PBS television, and Rodriguez, still in school, began to dream of bigger things.

At a Glance . . .

Born on June 20 (some sources say July 20), 1968, in San Antonio, TX; son of Cecilio (a sales manager) and Rebecca (a nurse) Rodriguez; third of ten children; married Elizabeth Avellano (a filmmaker); children: Rocket Valentin, Racer Maximiliano, Rebel Antonio. Education: University of Texas, BA, 1991. Religion: Raised Roman Catholic.

Career: Filmmaker, director, and scriptwriter, 1991–.

Selected awards: Third Coast Film and Video Competition award, 1990, for Austin Stories short subjects; 14 film festival top prizes for Bedhead, 1991; Distinguished Citizen Award, San Antonio, TX, 1993; IFP Spirit Award for best first feature, El Mariachi, 1994.

His plan was to make several low-budget action films for the Mexican home video market and to present these to Hollywood executives as a demonstration of his bankability. To finance the first of these, El Mariachi, Rodriguez enrolled himself as a paid subject in trials of a new cholesterol-lowering drug; he was forced to have blood drawn up to 10 times a day. The action idiom was not unfamiliar to Rodriguez, who was already a fan of Carpenter, horror director Sam Raimi, Hong Kong action auteur John Woo, and Italian "spaghetti western" master Sergio Leone. Rodriguez arranged a 14-day shoot in the town of Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, across the border from Del Rio, Texas.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr BiographyRobert Rodriguez: 1968—: Director, Filmmaker, Screenwriter Biography - Won Way Into Film School, Low Budget "mariachi" Impressed Hollywood, Moved Toward Family Oriented Action