Robert Rodriguez and Guillermo del Toro in The Director's Chair | © 2014 El Rey

Robert Rodriguez and Guillermo del Toro in The Director's Chair | © 2014 El Rey

Robert Rodriguez isn’t the only filmmaker who makes highly individual movies from the SPY KIDS franchise on the family side to the EL MARIACHI/DESPERADO/ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO trilogy, the MACHETE and the SIN CITY movies on the mature end, and he’s not even the only one to have his own production facility, Troublemaker Studios, which is located in Austin, Texas.

However, Rodriguez is perhaps the only writer/director/producer to head up his own cable television network. El Rey Network has several original series on its roster: FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, the vampire/crime drama based on the film directed by Rodriguez and scripted by Quentin Tarantino, is going into its third season, as is the interview program THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR, which features Rodriguez having in-depth conversations with peers like Tarantino, John Carpenter and Guillermo Del Toro. The rest of the time, El Rey features action films that are rarely seen elsewhere, including a lot of Hong Kong and Chinese martial arts movies, and classic Seventies fare like STARSKY AND HUTCH.

During El Rey’s portion of the most recent Television Critics Association press tour, Rodriguez talked about his network, future projects and more.

ASSIGNMENT X: The trailers for upcoming programming on El Rey are done in a very specific style, like Seventies grindhouse trailers. Corey Burton does the voiceovers, but who actually makes the trailers?

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ: Oh, yeah. That’s Skip Chaisson. He’s an amazing editor. He cut the PROMETHEUS trailer. He cuts all the kickass trailers for Tony Scott and Ridley Scott. He’s the only guy that I’ve ever seen cut a trailer of mine that I was like, “Wow, I don’t have to recut that. Who cut this?” And I met him, and when I started the network, I got him to come do my promos.

AX: Did you give him the format you wanted, or did you just say, “Run with it, you know what I want”?

RODRIGUEZ: Skip and I work on stuff together, and he comes up with things he’ll send me, I might tweak it a little bit at first, once we get a formula down, and then I get emails from him practically every night with new promos that I check out and I give him notes. I hardly ever give him notes, other than, “That is awesome.” He’s always appealed to me, his cutting style has always appealed to me. He’s a very famous editor.

Esai Morales in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN - Season 2 | ©2015 El Ray

Esai Morales in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN - Season 2 | ©2015 El Ray

AX: Will you be interviewing any women directors on the next season of THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR and/or having women direct episodes of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN?

RODRIGUEZ: What was so great was, there were a couple that I really wanted, and they were both too busy. So I was very excited about that. We’ll get them for sure for Season 3 [of FROM DUSK], because I have them earmarked. We have a Latina writer in the writing room, so she’s brought a lot – she’s written some really great stuff. I do want to interview some female directors I know for THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR – I don’t want to say who. I don’t want to announce until we get it set up, but I’ve been friends with them for a long time. I agree. I’ve tried to build that as much as possible. That’s a big goal of mine. And I was happy to see that I was turned down because they were busy working, but we need more [women]. We need more options for sure.

AX: Can you talk about your plans to direct a JONNY QUEST feature for Warner Brothers, based on the Sixties animated adventure?

RODRIGUEZ: You learn a lot doing just your own things all the time. Doing a studio project like that, you would learn something that you bring back to something that you do on a smaller scale. You have a bigger budget than I would normally work with. I was looking for a franchise. I knew Dan Lin a long time. He did LEGO MOVIE, he’s a producer, he did a movie with me called SHORTS, and years and years ago, he brought me JONNY QUEST, and said, “Hey, I’ve got JONNY QUEST,” and I said, “Ah, I’ve got my own series, I’ve got the SPY KIDS movies.” And once those played out, he came back again recently to, “What about JONNY QUEST?” And I’m still a huge JONNY QUEST fan. My kids still watch JONNY QUEST. And I thought, “My kids are still so into it.” I turned them onto it when they were little, and now they’re seventeen, eighteen, my twelve-year-old, they still love it. I thought, “It would be really cool to do a legitimate action/adventure film that just happens to have a kid in it. Not a kids’ film – the SPY KIDS films were more like kids’ films – this would be like a real action/adventure film.” Because that’s what the original series was like. It was a hard-hitting, kickass action/adventure series. So that’s what enticed me to go do it, is that my own series had already played out. [JONNY QUEST] was a cool property still that the studio had.

It would be different from anything that I’d done. I’ve never done anything that wasn’t either really small, a little kid-type movie, and more violent action films. This would be like doing a James Bond/Indiana Jones movie, but imagine if you were a kid, and James Bond is your bodyguard and Indiana Jones is your dad? It’s like one of those movies, and you just happen to be in it. That’s what I would do with it.

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Article: Interview: Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez talks EL REY NETWORK and JONNY QUEST


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