Early life and career beginnings
Pedro Almodóvar Caballero was born on 25 September 1949 in Calzada de Calatrava, a small rural town of Almagro, Ciudad Real, a province of Castile-La Mancha in Spain. He has two older sisters, Antonia and María Jesús, and one brother Agustín. His father, Antonio Almodóvar, was a winemaker, and his mother, Francisca Caballero, who died in 1999, was a letter reader and transcriber for illiterate neighbours.
When Almodóvar was eight years old, the family sent him to study at a religious boarding school in the city of Cáceres, Extremadura, in western Spain, with the hope that he might someday become a priest. His family eventually joined him in Cáceres, where his father opened a gas station and his mother opened a bodega where she sold her own wine. Unlike Calzada, there was a cinema in Cáceres. "Cinema became my real education, much more than the one I received from the priest", he said later in an interview. Almodóvar was influenced by Luis Buñuel.
Against his parents' wishes, Almodóvar moved to Madrid in 1967 to become a filmmaker. When caudillo Francisco Franco closed the National School of Cinema in Madrid, he became self-taught. To support himself, Almodóvar had a number of jobs, including selling used items in the famous Madrid flea market El Rastro and as an administrative assistant with Spanish phone company Telefónica, where he worked for twelve years. Since he worked only until three in the afternoon, he had the rest of the day to pursue his film-making.
In the early 1970s, Almodóvar became interested in experimental cinema and theatre. He collaborated with the vanguard theatrical group Los Goliardos, in which he played his first professional roles and met actress Carmen Maura. Madrid's flourishing alternative cultural scene became the perfect scenario for Almodóvar's social talents. He was a crucial figure in La Movida Madrileña (the Madrilenian Movement), a cultural renaissance that followed the death of Francisco Franco. Alongside Fabio McNamara, Almodóvar sang in a glam rock parody duo.
Writing under the pseudonym Patty Diphusa, Almodóvar also penned various articles for major newspapers and magazines, such as El País, Diario 16 and La Luna as well as contributing to comic strips, articles and stories in counterculture magazines, such as Star, El Víbora and Vibraciones. He published a novella, Fuego en las entrañas (Fire in the Guts) and kept writing stories that were eventually published in a compilation volume entitled El sueño de la razón (The Dream of Reason).
Almodóvar bought his first camera, a Super-8, with his first paycheck from Telefónica when he was 22 years old, and began to make hand-held short films. Around 1974, he made his first short film, and by the end of the 1970s they were shown in Madrid's night circuit and in Barcelona. These shorts had overtly sexual narratives and no soundtrack: Dos putas, o, Historia de amor que termina en boda (Two Whores, or, A Love Story that Ends in Marriage) in 1974; La caída de Sodoma (The Fall of Sodom) in 1975; Homenaje (Homage) in 1976; La estrella (The Star) in 1977; Sexo Va: Sexo viene (Sex Comes and Goes); and Complementos (Shorts) in 1978, his first film in 16mm. He remembers, "I showed them in bars, at parties… I could not add a soundtrack because it was very difficult. The magnetic strip was very poor, very thin. I remember that I became very famous in Madrid because, as the films had no sound, I took a cassette with music while I personally did the voices of all the characters, songs and dialogues".
After four years of working with shorts in Super-8 format, Almodóvar made his first full-length film Folle, folle, fólleme, Tim (Fuck Me, Fuck Me, Fuck Me, Tim) in Super-8 in 1978, followed by his first 16 mm short Salomé.