From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
El Mariachi is a 1992 Spanish-language American independent neo-Western action film and the first part of the saga that came to be known as Robert Rodriguez's Mexico Trilogy. It marked the feature-length debut of Rodriguez as writer and director. The Spanish language film was shot with a mainly amateur cast in the northern Mexican bordertown of Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico across from Del Rio, Texas, the home town of leading actor Carlos Gallardo as the title character. The US$7,225 production was originally intended for the Mexican home-video market, but executives at Columbia Pictures liked the film and bought the American distribution rights. Columbia eventually spent $200,000 to transfer the print to film, to remix the sound, and on other post-production work, then spent millions more on marketing and distribution.