Robert Rodriguez and How to Build a Filmmaking Empire
You can’t say indie film without saying Robert Rodriguez. I’ve been a HUGE fan of how Robert Rodriguez makes his films for a long time. His legendary film “El Mariachi” was released when I was in high school and changed my life.
Since then he has gone on to make some amazing films like Desperado (one of my favorites) From Dusk Till Dawn, the Spy Kids franchise, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Frank Miller’s Sin City.
He also wrote an amazing book documenting the making of El Mariachi and his rollercoaster ride in Hollywood called “Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player,” a must read for any independent filmmaker. Whether you love Robert Rodriguez films or hate them, you have to respect how he makes them.
Famously nicknamed as the “the one-man film crew” Robert Rodriguez is not only a talented producer, director and film writer but also happens to serve as an editor, director of photography, steadicam operator, camera operator, composer, production designer, sound editor and a visual effects supervisor making him jack of all trades of the film making.
From the famous Spy Kids to Sin City renowned filmmaker Robert Rodriguez is acclaimed for his all-around method of production and appealing flamboyant style, these are the traits which only few seasoned directors hope to achieve someday after spending decades of work but Robert Rodriguez proved with his first Bedhead a short film that he happens to possess the flair since day one.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, Rodriguez was born to Mexican-American parents Rebecca and Cecilio G. Rodriguez who were a nurse and a salesman respectively. Robert grew up in a big family of 10 siblings. Robert was interested in film from a young age of 11 when his father bought one of the first VCRs which came with a camera along with it.
While studying in St. Anthony High School Seminary in San Antonio, Robert was commissioned to videotape the football games of his school. His sister recalls that he was fired from the work because he had shot the game in a cinematic style and instead of shooting the whole game, he shot the ball sailing through the air and capturing the reactions of the parents. Robert met Carlos Gallardo in high school and together they shot both films and videos throughout their time at the high school and college too.
Robert Rodriguez attended the College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin where his love for cartooning blossomed. Not having high grades he could not get into the school’s film program. Robert created a daily comic strip which was titled Los Hooligans and most of the characters were based on his siblings especially one of his sisters, Maricarmen.
It ran for three years in the student newspaper The Daily Texan. As he was initially rejected from the film school, he taught himself the basic directing and editing skills before taking a film program. He continued to make short films. Later on, he won numerous awards for his efforts and gradually was accepted into the film program at the university.
Robert Rodriguez shot action and horror short films on video and edited them on two VCRs. The fall of 1990 earned him a spot in a local film contest of the university’s film program.
There Robert Rodriguez made the award winning 16 mm short Bedhead (1991). Bedhead starred his younger siblings. The film accounts the amusing misadventures of a young girl named Rebecca and her quarrels with her rowdy older brother who sports an incredibly tangled hair which she simply hates.
After getting telekinetic powers as aftereffects of a slight head injury, Rebecca vows to end David’s unruly bedhead. Another bump to the head makes her a straight headed kid again she promises to never abuse her powers again though David remains dazed.
The traces of Robert Rodriguez’s signature style are eminent at this early stage with quick cuts, intense zooms, cartoonish sound effects and fast camera movements sprinkled with sense of humour gave the short an air of cinematic skill and expertise. Bedhead was addressed for excellence in the Black Maria Film Festival. It was selected by Sally Berger who is a Film/Video Curator for the 20th anniversary reviewing MoMA in 2006. With its success at numerous film festivals, Robert was able to fund his debut feature El Mariachi which was his first feature and portrayed his expertise as a filmmaker assisting him in landing a deal with Columbia Pictures.
El Mariachi (1993) was made on a very tight budget of only $ 7,000. Some of the money was raised by his friend Carlos Gallardo and some from his own participation in medical testing studies. Playing both on Spanish and American western themes, the movie is focused on a lone wandering musician who gets caught up in a mess with the bad guys after switching guitar cases with hitman who happened to have similar case to carry around his tools.
Rodriquez won Audience Award for El Mariachi at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. He has described his experiences of making this film in his book Rebel Without a Crew.
Robert’s second feature film was Desparado which was a sequel to El Mariachi. It starred Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek was introduced to the American audiences. Rodriquez teamed up with Quentin Tarantino of the vampire thriller From Dusk till Dawn (and also both co-producing the two sequels of it) and currently writes, directs and produce the TV series for his very own cable network El Rey. Rodriquez has also worked with Kevin Williamson on the horror film, The Faculty.
The year 2001 brought Robert Rodriquez his first Hollywood hit Spy Kids, which went on to flourish into a movie franchise. A third mariachi film also surfaced in the late 2003 named Once Upon a Time in Mexico which completed the Mexican Trilogy which is also called the Mariachi Trilogy. Formerly known as Los Hooligans, Robert also operates a production company which is named as Troublemaker Studios.
In the year 2005, Rodriquez co-directed Sin City which was an adaptation of the Frank Miller comic books of the same name. A scene was guest directed by Quentin Tarantino. In 2004 while production, Rodriquez insisted upon Miller to be credited as the co-director because for him the visual style and technique of Miller’s comic art was as important to him as his own.
However, the Directors Guild of America did not permitted it stating that only the legitimate teams could share the credit. This was a big deal to Robert Rodriguez and he chose to resign from the Directors Guild stating I did not want to be forced into making a compromise which he was not willing to make or set such an example which might hurt the guild later.
Rodriquez was forced to let go of his director’s seat in the John Carter of Mars for Paramount Pictures by resigning from the guild. He had already signed and had been announced as the director and planned to start on it soon after being done with Sin City.
Sin City was not only a box office success but also a critical hit especially for the hyperviolent adaptation of the comic book which did not have much name recognition like the Spiderman or X-men. Robert has shown interest in adaptation of all the Miller’s Sin City comic books.
In 2005, Robert Rodriquez released The Adventure of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D which was superhero movie for the kids pretty much the same young audience for Spy Kid series. Based on a story which was conceived by Robert’s 7 year old son Racer, this film was liked but did not gain that much success grossing only $ 39 million at box office.
Planet Terror was written and directed by Rodriquez as being part of double bill release Grindhouse. Quentin Tarantino directed the other film of Grindhouse.
Apart from films, Robert Rodriquez also has a series of Ten Minute Film School segments on numerous of his DVD release which show aspiring filmmakers how to make good and profitable movies using affordable and feasible tactics.
Along with these, Robert Rodriguez created a series called The Ten Minute Cooking School where he revealed he told his recipe for Puerco Pibil, the same food which was eaten by Johnny Depp in the film.
The popularity of this got him started on another Cooking School on two disc version of Sin City DVD where Robert Rodriguez taught the viewers to make Sin City Breakfast Tacos which was a dish he made for his crew and cast during the late night shoots and editing sessions with the help of his grandmother’s tortilla recipe and various egg mixes for the fillings.
A strong supporter of digital filmmaking, he was introduced to this by George Lucas who personally invited him to use the digital cameras at the Lucas’ headquarters.
At the 2010 Austin Film Festival, Robert Rodriquez was awarded for his Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award.
A new sequel to Predator was announced which was to be produced by Rodriquez on April 23, 2009 which was based on his early drafts he had penned down after watching the original.
Robert had ideas for a planet-sized game preserve and different creatures that were used by the Predators to hunt down a group of abducted humans who are incredibly skilled. Acquiring quite positive reviews, the film did really well at the box office.
Robert also planned to produce a the famous Fire and Ice, a 1983 film collaboration between Frank Frazetta a painter and Ralph Bakshi, an animator. But the deal closed shortly after the death of Frazetta.
It was reported in the October of 2015 that Rodriquez is going to direct Battle Angel Alita with James Cameron. It was also announced in November that he is directing the film 100 Years which will be releasing in 2017.
Hollywood in Austin
Robert Rodriguez has built himself a remarkable filmmaking paradise in Austin, TX. Don’t believe me watch the two videos in this post where he gives you a tour of Troublemaker Studios. He has since purchased an old airport and built sound stages, more post production, office space, and everything you would need to make a film.
He has also done something that no other filmmakers has ever done before, he launched his own television network called “El Rey.”
In the over two hour interview that Tim Ferriss had with Robert Rodriguez he discusses not only his journey as a filmmaker but how he lives a creative life. This is why I wanted to share the interview with you.
Living a Creative Life
So many of us independent filmmakers forget why we got into the business and it’s to live a creative life. Make money yes, but do so by living a creative life. I found the interview fascinating and wanted to share it with the Indie Film Hustle Tribe. Take a listen at the top of the post.
Hope you enjoy it!
BONUS: Here’s a bonus podcast interview of Robert Rodriguez on the Nerdist. He describes his philosophy of indie filmmaking:
Also check out my interview with Robert Rodriguez’s long time producer Aaron Kaufman.
Here are some links to his films and books:
A Must Read Book for all Filmmakers:
Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player
If you like this post watch: How to Make Rodriguez’s Guacamole Gun
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I welcome thoughts and remarks on ANY of the content above in the comments section below…
Finally, we can start. Welcome thank you all for coming. I know it’s late in the semester but we’ve got an embarrassment of riches here for us at the university. So, let me just take a moment and introduce Robert Rodriguez and begin with a blast from the past. So, twenty-two years ago, I attended an end of semester screening for all the R.T.F. students in this room. So, it was December and we had all the production classes were showing their films and their projects and. That was the world premiere of Robert Rodriguez’s ‘Bedhead’ okay and if you haven’t seen that film see it. it’s on the DVD. It’s just amazing nine-minute film that indicated to me that this guy is really, really talented and had a real way with actors who are his brothers and sisters and really captured something about childhood. So, you know, one thing led to another, within a year he had finished his first feature, El Mariachi, which he made while he was a student here, for less than seven thousand bucks and within months of finishing it, he had signed with I.M. Talent Agency and he had a contract with Columbia Pictures.
And went on and you know, I mean, just brought Spy Kids One, two, three, four, Sin City, Machete, you know the story, okay but I want to tell you a story which will indicate something about Robert Rodriguez as a person and It is a story of when he made the Faculty in 1998, he graciously allowed the Austin Film Society and I’m part of the Austin Film Society, to use it as the Paramount Theater premier, where we could raise money for the Texas Filmmaker Production fund. One of the things we do in Austin Film Society is raise money for Texas filmmakers and so, he graciously let us have a premiere of the Faculty and lots of people came and we made a lot of money to give back to films makers, independent filmmakers here in Texas. And so, we watched the film, the film is over, he comes up we do some Q. and A and then there was a door prize and everybody that came to that got a number ticket and the door prize was, he was giving away one of the cars from the Faculty and he just wanted to give it give it away and so, it came time to pick the winning ticket and he was about to do it and he stopped and he said, I really want this to go to somebody that really needs it, okay, so, he says, if any of you rich lawyers or doctors win it, I would appreciate you give it back, so I can give it to somebody who really, really wants it and really, really needs it and sure enough, okay, we got that car to, I think a single mom, right? who needed it in Georgetown, I think it was, who needed it to get to work and take her children to school and it was wonderful but just for him to say that, to even think that way about something that he was just giving away, I think, tells you something about his generosity and how he feels about the community that he’s part of and that carries on till today, okay and the reason he’s here is because, he wants to share this information with you, okay, a new way of thinking about Latino Images. It’s been quite a year for Robert Rodriguez, it began, 2012 has been a pretty good term so far, it began with El Mariachi, that film he made being entered into the National Film Registry, which is you know, conducted by the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress and the Librarian of Congress picks those films and they have to be culturally and statically and historically important, for the Library of Congress to say, this is a film we want to preserve and so, El Mariachi was picked for that honor, okay, and it’s a very great honor. But imagine, you know, a film he made when he was a junior here at the university. Later on in March, he announced that he was going to head up a new cable channel called El Rey, so, you can read it on his T. shirt and you know, just rethink programming, cable programming in general and Latino programming in particular and I think that’s what he wants to talk to us about. He’s also, he won the award, Arise Entrepreneurship award. He was asked to do the keynote address at the NALIP Conference, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, about three weeks ago. So, I mean, he’s really had a terrific and busy year but in the midst of all of this good fortune and business and getting you know a channel off the ground, he wanted to come and talk to you and share his ideas with you. So, I’d like for you to give a warm welcome to Robert Rodriguez Rodriguez.
Is that your notes?
Robert Rodriguez: Yeah, see if it works
Charles: That’s some notes
Robert Rodriguez: I’ll only talk a little bit and then open it up to questions
Charles: Like you ask me some questions.
Robert Rodriguez: Okay, twenty years ago, I sat right there or there and I asked you questions.
Robert Rodriguez: So now, you can ask a question, see if I can answer them. I had this one question for you the day that had Charles dumped
Charles: Yeah it’s a good one
Robert Rodriguez: That was a good question.
Charles: Yeah and it was right. I’m telling my alley and I didn’t have the answer
Robert Rodriguez: I see if anybody here has the answer. If you don’t, it is okay, that took me twenty years to figure out the answer myself but, it’s a good one. We’re going to build up this
Charles: Come up if you want to come up, the whole table comes up. Yeah. If I can figure out how to do it.
Robert Rodriguez: Change the button
Charles: Yeah, just change the button. Table up.
Robert Rodriguez: So, how is everybody doing? I was here twenty years ago, it is so strange, so strange to be up here
Charles: On the other side of it.
Robert Rodriguez: I didn’t want to raise my hand, ever ask you a few questions and I think. Now I’m talking. I got some really cool things to share with you, is just Charles asked if I wanted to come talk to the class, I said Yeah. I actually have a lot to tell him, I’ve been on a world tour with this guy and traveling his ideas a lot. There something that happens when you’ve done twenty years of something, things kind of click. A friend mine knows projam and he said, you know, he talked to Eddy Bekam, at ten years they broke up and then at fifteen years he was doing solar project for them and then they hit twenty, they realized you know what? we’re not going to break up ever again and now I know who you are and there’s something about this year, this is twenty years since El Mariachi, that something kind of clicked as to, why I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing, what it all means and how can it affect people in the future and I was never thinking about any of this, I was just going, going, going, following my nose just in a matter of rush, but you end up doing things according to your ( he used to do that even when I was a student, forget about him)
Charles: He’s gotten used to it now, probably not
Robert Rodriguez: Yeah, I mean, it’s just, you just do what you do and somehow, it all clicks together. There is a great Steve Jobs speech where he says, you know, you connect the dots later in life, you go back and you go why did I do this? Why did I do that? Why did I make that choice and fail? or this won’t succeed and then later you can kind of connect it all together, I’m kind of at that stage, for me to connect some of these a lot of these dots together and I want to it share with you because, it’s pretty enlightening and it’s pretty exciting and it’s pretty revolutionary. So, for people. I want to tell you this because, you guys are the future. So, I’ve been travelling with these ideas around, past couple months took me all the way to the White House and told the president about some of these stuffs and they were just blown away, they have never heard anything like this and part of it was because, I’ve just been doing it for twenty years but part of it was that something clicked and why things are the way they are and how we can change that.
Charles: Can you all hear him okay?
Robert Rodriguez: Everybody over there? Thank you. See how I started in 18, I was a cartoonist at a daily cartoon strip, kind of fuligans and I wanted to make independent films. I’d been doing it already at home, it was when home video was just coming into being that I start making movies, around twelve, thirteen years old, making movies on video and I couldn’t get into film festivals because, back then there, was a little bias against video, it’s not at all like today where they called Digital, they called the video. So, if you want to enter into a film contest and your movie wasn’t shot on film, they wouldn’t allow it. Which is why I had to make Birdhead because, all my little short films I made before that were on video, even though they would win local video contests, I couldn’t it into a film festival. So, one of the reasons I wanted to get in U.T. was to go into the film program. I knew they had film equipment, I knew I could make the definitive version of one of my old home movies to send the film festivals and that was Birdhead. So, film one came in guns blazing, I knew I needed to make a film that would win film festivals and so film one, I was in a little wind- up camera for all it, it was worth trying to do something that would give me some recognition and it did. We won a bunch of festivals and I ended up realizing, wow!!! A film scout from the film studio, sees the festival and sees my award-winning short film, Birdhead, they might want to hire me to do a feature and I don’t know how to do a feature. I’ve only been doing short films since you know twelve years old, so, I need to go get some practice making feature, well, I’ve practiced doing shorts and I discovered this niche, this straight- to-video Spanish market at the local go and in the Spanish section there be action movies called (speaks Spanish) or something terrible. I read It, it would be like awful shot-on video, no action, just had a fancy title but then in the back it had an address; Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, those were the issuers in the US. A friend of mine told me that they make these movies for like Thirty or Forty thousand dollars. Maybe three or four, these things are awful shot-on videos, I’m sure we can make one on film like we did Birdhead. Birdbed was a hundred-dollar movie, for the wind-up camera, shot in my backyard, eight minutes long, Eight hundred dollars. I did the math, figured if I shot a feature the same way, I could make an 80-minute movie for me with Eight thousand dollars or even less because, it beats a lot of dialogue, wouldn’t be so action packed. Let’s go make one for the video market, nobody will know I made this movie because, my name is Robert Rodriguez Rodrigues, the name Robert Rodriguez Rodriguez isn’t in the Spanish market, we sell it, it would be in the Spanish section and then we can turn the money right. If we make it for less than ten thousand dollars, turn around, they made it for Thirty or forty, we should at least sell it for fifty or sixty and that’s a business. Let’s go make it, see how much we can sell it for and then not only will I be able to practice making a full feature and I will hire anybody. I’ll be the writer, the director, the editor, the cameraman, the soundman, I’ll learn all those jobs, so, it’s just like the best film school you can think of. I was going to do that during my summer break here, I even told Charles I was going away that summer to make a movie, the summer after I’d made Birdhead. For the summer, I’m going to go make a movie for the Spanish market. Sold my body to science at pharmaco, came over human lab rat to pay for, went down, shot the movie kind of together, took it to sell it to the video market. We were going to sell it for about twenty thousand dollars but then, I gave a trip copy of the trailer to an agent in I.C.M.
Charles: And it had Birdbed was on the tape too
Robert Rodriguez: Not only Birdhead
Charles: Bedhead and the trailer for El Mariachi
Robert Rodriguez: I wanted to just get some advice, I’m going to make three of these action movies, straight to video just for practice, I’m going to then cut together the best scenes from there, I’ll make a little bit of money in each one, I’ll save my money, pocket together the best sequences of those three movies, I’ll just do all myself. I learned all these jobs, they are probably going to be terrible at first but then, I get better and then once I have enough cut-together, I’ll use that as my demo, because, I’m only twenty-one, have plenty of time, I’m not in any rush Marty when festivals. I’m on that track, let me just be as prepared as possible. I’ll make three straight-to video action movie about a guy with a guitar case full of guns and I had to cut together the best scenes, save the money, then go make my American Independent film, which will probably cost more in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range and that was my path, that was my goal. That’s the thing is that, that’s pretty lofty goal for someone who’s a student but I wish I tell people, especially your age, set really high impossible goals, when you set impossible goals, that’s where innovation happens and you look at and you go, how am I going to pull that off? Knowing is half the battle but what I like saying is, what is the other half? Not knowing. You don’t have to know how you’re going to get there; you just have to set the site. This is the thing, there’s so much, so much karma comes your way, if you just move forward. If you sit back and don’t move and try to imagine how you’re going to do the whole thing, you’re already seeing obstacles that you know you don’t want to go face and you’re not going to do it. Something magical happens when you just move forward, set this impossible goal that you thinking maybe you can do but who knows and you go forward, all these other forces comes in and they reward you for that and they pull you along and I’ve seen it, every project for twenty years, so, that’s the truth. So, keep that in mind, when you don’t know what you’re doing, good, don’t have to know but at least move.
When I had a daily cartoon strip, I kind of learned it then but now it makes more sense that I look back. There was a way to make the comic strip, I had to make a comic strip every day, it was a really talented artist who also was here, is a huge comic book right now, it makes sense. He was on the on the road to that but it made all of us better because he was so good, we all look like dog shit next to him. So, we had to like, I did spend more time on my comic strip, done any homework assignment because I knew I had to be up against this guy every day and everybody would look at his and look at mine in a way, what’s that? So, all of us were amazing. I met graining from just before he did Simpsons, came down to his comic book. He just pulled Simpsons and he saw our comic page and this is the most amazing comic page in the country but that’s because of one guy, one guy pushed the rest of us, one guy does that. I want to tell you about that later, this theory I have about somebody who pushes others and that will be inspiring to you, if nothing else, that’s part of the most inspiring story. I would draw, I would have to sit and draw, to make the comic strip, you have to draw like a picture and on a picture and then two pictures are kind of go together and then he would do the strip. So, who wants to get into creative arts, anybody know in the film making or is this general? How many people are into arts or creativity? Okay, so this is important for you, so, I want to make sure I’m talking to the right audience, this will be useful to any of you but especially you guys, you can’t just wait for an inspiration to act, that’s the biggest mistake people here make. Don’t wait to be inspired to do the action, you have to do the action first and then you’ll be inspired. So what I would do is, I would sit there and draw out the comic and I would come up with it. Some days I come home from school, sit down and I was going to wait for the inspiration to hit me in a way, I would wait for the idea to come fully formed and when I got a joke, then I’ll go drive and I sit there for maybe, three or four hours, then go. Alright, screw it. I had to get up and that is, I got to do the process. I had to sit there and start drawing. I don’t even know why or how I going to get there and then two things would come together and I’ll be, oh!!! that’s an idea, oh!!! This is the first part and then it would come together always, it would not take very long. I would fight that process so much because, what was I doing? I was waiting for inspiration before I acted, It’s always the other way round. Act first, then the inspiration will come. Draw first, then the inspiration will come. Just start shooting, then the inspiration will come. Just start moving, then the inspiration will come. Don’t wait. So many people wait, they tell you they’re going to write this novel or they’re going to do this, they are going to make this film, they never do it because, they’re waiting for all this stuff to come to them, it comes through doing it.
So, that’s one of the biggest things that I had to do with all my heart, which actually, I was just going to go make it, have very, you know, I have a really good goal in mind but it failed, it failed that I didn’t even sell it to view. I didn’t secure a super star, that’s what I was missing, that’s what Battle star they also had that I didn’t. They had a washed up super star in mind, they had a bunch of unknowns. We had a superstar lead but she took out, she didn’t show up, so, we found it much harder to sell the movie. So, you know, to the ashes of any failure, there’s the keys to your success. That’s the other big thing to just remember as you go forth. I hope you all go out there in the world, pursue your creative endeavors and I hope you all fail, that’s from the heart because, I found my biggest successes came from my failures. So many people fear failure and what do they do? They sit back and they don’t do anything and because they don’t do anything, they don’t move forward, just a little bit where the rest of forces can take, the rest of the forces take, it’s unbelievable, I had to break it down. I would say, I only have to do maybe twenty or twenty-five percent of it but the rest is paramount. It’s amazing like that and you think it’s magic and you think it’s you but it’s not, it’s just the forces are actually rewarding you and I’ve seen it, I can give you a very concrete example and you’ll be, you’d think I’m David Blaine but it’s exactly what it’s really that thing of action.
So failure, Winston Churchill in my favorite quote he said, “Success is moving from one failure to the next with great enthusiasm”. Because you have to be willing to move forward and fail, you don’t have to know are you going to do it. I made this movie called Four Rooms or it was an anthology film couldn’t turn, you know. Thank you. That movie failed but what is failure, what is failure? People say, why did you make that movie? and you know what? when Taylor Keno came in and said we’re going to make an anthology film, we’re going to make an anthology film with four different directors, we want you to be one of the directors. Place on New Year’s Eve, you have to use the bell hop in the story, place in one room. We’re all going to work on each other scripts, we are all going to write our own script and we’re going to put them all together and see what happens, I’ll do that, that was just my inner voice saying, I’ll do that. Should I have followed that inner voice, the movie failed. Should I have actually gone and done my research, if I’d done my research I would have seen that anthology films never work not only do they not successful, they bomb horribly. Whenever you have multiple directors, like in New York stories with; Scorsese with. Woody Allen Old, bombs not even close, nobody goes to see those. Had I done that research, I would have, what would I have said? Should I have said no? Should I have said yes? it’s the kind of questions you are going to have to face, I’m going to make you show of hands, make you uncomfortable. Who would have said yes anyway? And then, who would have said no? it’s just being using your research, makes sense, either one makes sense, right? It’s a tussle. So many times, I would decide to move with fate by flipping my coin because, I was like either way, it’s a lose-lose situation but what if it’s a win-win situation. But if you think of it that way, it’s a win-win situation. That’s everything I try to do now is win-win, that’s a win-win situation. How? Let me explain. If you move forward in a positive direction, karma sweeps you away, so many ideas start coming, you learn so many things that you would never learn with an activity and no matter what, you’re going to learn something, even if it’s a failure, just accept the fact that you will probably fail, don’t care about it. I know what that feels like, half the reason why I didn’t take anyone to work with me on no money, even though people want to help, one of the main reasons I had no crew, I didn’t want anyone to see me fail. I had this camera I had borrowed, I thought, if I have a bunch of guys come help me, I borrowed this camera, it might not even work, we might get down there and all go, go, go and it doesn’t work, they will be laughing at me and I’ll feel really bad. They don’t go, the camera might still break but at least, I don’t have to face that. I did the whole movie by myself, I didn’t mind failing, I just didn’t want to fail in public. So, I know what that feels like, I’m telling you, you shouldn’t should worry about that because, that wasn’t even a wrong idea, it was the wrong mindset, made for a better story that I did it by myself but those are the wrong mindset. Don’t fear failure, it’s part of the process, especially being artist, you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail, know it, you know that you’ve got to fail but how you look at that failure, that’s important. Some lady asked me, she said, well you are all positive, you do what you tell yourself and you just wasted a year and a half of your life on something that didn’t work, well, that’s a real negative. First of all, can you rephrase that a little better, she said, I learned a good lesson the hard way, that’s still negative, you can do better than that, I said, wow!!! that’s amazing. Okay look, What I did I give the example, I did for him to fail. Now for a while after that I thought, yeah, this is, why did I do that? I can’t really piece together when you connect the dots.
Through the ashes of your failure are the keys to your success, if you look closely enough, you will always fail for a reason. You had this goal in life, set a high goal, you probably won’t reach that goal, you might reach that one, you might reach something more, if you say positive, the karma pulls you along. You’re thinking you’re setting your bar high, I always tell people, aim high, if you aim low, you know, you are going to hit low. I’m just going to go get a job working in a commercial place, that’s what I was going to do, I said, I love just making my cartoon, I’m just going to stay in Austin, I don’t want to go to L.A, that’s aiming too high. I want to stay in here in Austin, make some local commercials, have my little cartoon strip, raise kids, I’ll be happy, I’ll be happy, I won’t take very much to live. That was that was aiming low and I would have hit low but as soon as I had the idea for El Mariachi, that’s high, that was much higher, now I’m aiming higher. If you aim low, you hit low, if you aim high, you might still hit low but now you have the chance that you are either there or there or straight up, right. So what I did for, him, I gave it back and even now, I go, what are the keys to success? They were in there, to keep them there. When I was on the set of Four Rooms and if you’ve seen it in that, US has an ended up as an Asian wife and this little Asian daughter and a little Mexican boy and they leave the kids in the room for new year, so in New Year they are all dressed in tuxedos and I’d already made Birdhead and I was looking for an angle for a family film to do after Mariachi. They would give kids a sense of action like I was doing Mariachi, so I wanted to do Birdhead again because, that was always my most popular genre audience, audience were not prepared, so I thought, I want to do a family film with that kind of action and flavor, kids look like little James Bonds in their suits and Antonio and his wife, his Asian wife, they look like an international spy couple. I thought I was on the set, I was like, wow!!! what if they were spies, these little kids that can barely tie their shoes don’t know their spies, parents get captured, kids have to save the parents, called it Spy Kids. Five years, there are four of those down, by the way. That was the first key of success that was in that failure Four Rooms. The second one was, I looked at it afterwards I thought, okay, anthology films never work but I love the short film format, that’s what I grew up on, that’s what Birdhead was, that’s what I’ve done all through college, I believe in that format. I think the way they’re doing anthologist isn’t correct, four different directors, that’s no thematic real, title it, four stories, too many. The three act structure, classical three act structure, three, group of three, rule of three then comedy, you know, it always comes in three. I bet if I did an anthology with three stories in a wrap around, with the same director, not the multiple directors, it could work. That was Sin City, and I tried to get it on Sin City. Second key from that one. So, looking back now, it’s easy for me to look and go, okay but back then, I was lost in the woods, I thought I had made a wrong choice, I thought I had I followed my voice and I go, I need to question my voice. Don’t question your inner voice, that’s the part that’s wiser than you, that’s the part that you’re not going to be able to consciously ever figure out, until you look back on it like a history book and read the map. So, you have to trust your inner voice and cultivate that, down to the point where you can be playing cards and going, “I know that I’m the queen because my inner voice told me to”. You’ve got to, you know, really fine tune that gift, it’s within all of you. I wish I knew all this stuff but I was, I found out the hard way, so I’m just telling it.
When I graduated, I finally graduated from here because, when I did Mariachi, that swept me off into Hollywood and I didn’t get finish graduating, I wanted to be a good example to my kids, so a couple years ago I finished. I remember thinking, what does that mean, does that mean I’m no longer a student? I like being a student. But you’re a student, you know, you screw up, you just go ahead, I’m a student and you use that as an excuse. So now, I can’t use that excuse anymore, I used that for years, hey!!! I’m a graduate, I’m still a student, still learning, I’m still learning. Well, use that, when you get out of here, you’re always a student, always be a student, always keep your hand up. The best thing about when you’re a kid, just a group of kids, who here can make their own movie for seven thousand dollars? Who here can write and oprah? Who here be the president? all the kids raise their hand because, they don’t know, they don’t know what can’t be done. That positive attitude is what you want, you want to be that little kid forever because, if you get older, you know, we’re going to move so it doesn’t on the air show us by raising your hand? what happened? what happened to you guys? I would have answered this fifteen years ago, you all would have raised your hands, you know. So, that’s what I mean, you want to be the kid who just goes yeah, right? Put your hand up because, do you know how you’re going to do it? No, do you have to know? That’s the whole point. When I said question at the end, you all raise your hand, make me feel better.
I am going to read you a letter I sent. When your student, you can get people of students. I have a friend that I met in Hollywood because, the other thing is your peer group, you know, they always say, when callers are in the high school, be careful who you pick as your peer group, they mean that in a negative way but now, you want to do that in a positive way. Be careful who you pick as your peers because, you’ll only be as successful as those around you, the people you hang out with. You want to be with those people that really dream big and think big and they will challenge you, like if you want to lose weight you don’t want to hang out with a bunch of people whose health is not a priority because, then you’re going to be fighting a losing battle but if you find people who are like-minded, that’s a good thing. As soon as I made Mariachi because I thought higher, I’m going to run into some other students and they said, what are you up? to this said, I just made this movie and I’m going to Hollywood and I’m going to be a hero and they were like, what? Because I jumped right out of that peer group, which was the students into, suddenly I was around George Lucas and Jim Cameron, you know, Sam Raimi, it was crazy, like you are Steven Spielberg and you’re in a room with these guys and that’s your peer group now. So, when they say, “what are you up to?” mehn, you better have something that you’re doing. So, I was like, well I’m building my own studios in Texas and I’m going into digital photography before anyone else because, I think that’s the future and I think I can do 3D and bring 3D back, even though it hasn’t come back in twenty years. And I’m doing this movie called Sin City with a green screen backdrop and a digital backdrop and make it look really close to what the artist is doing, good show. You go through that, that becomes your peer group.
I wrote Jim Cameron a couple years ago, just before Avatar came out. So, I’ve known him for way back the and we’ve been friends for a long time and when I showed him Desperado, he was watching in the screening room when I just finished it and I was in this lobby. He gave me this treatment first, by a man that he never made and his treatment for Avatar, this was 1995, have it in my journal and it’s like that’s pretty color we’re going pretty good, might be a hit someday. So, I wrote him just before Avatar was finished and asked him, this is, outline what it means to be a student. Hey!!!what’s up dude, besides working your ass off? It’s been a long time Jim. You were in my dream last night, we were hanging out with our kids and everything I did you turned around and did it a hundred times better, hahaha, I guess that’s no dream. Can’t wait to see how your movie’s going, hope you are doing well. I know you’re busy as hell but if you’re in L.A. I would love to see you for a few minutes to say hi, even if it’s while holding your coffee as you run from room to room. Hope the family is good and doing great. He wrote back: what’s up, good to hear from you. You know, maybe that kind of humility is what drives you, that’s okay. The truth is, I stand in awe of what you’ve done and look forward my ability to what you’re going to do next. John Brotel told me, you moved out all your furniture and put an avid in your living room and so I had to have my cutting-room in my house but I did, John Brotel, he came over to my house and I showed him. I was the only guy and the only director editing his own movie and in Hollywood, period but also I had in my house, I had an avid, no other movie at the studio was even cutting on an avid, they’re still cutting on film, this is ninety-four and he came over to my house, ahh!!! have an avid in your house and yeah, it’s in my room I cut myself. And he just brought in cutting corners and kind of just all done it’s all in the same system. Hey!!! I hate, I’m going to edit my next movie myself, I’m going to cut, I’m going to turn around my house, I’m going to have. I also want to put an ad in I’m going to do is going to come out next movie Titanic and he got an Oscar for editing and he said, you write, you shoot, you cut, you score, you can do your own study Cam, at least, you know better and intact, sincerely ultimately utterly redefined filmmaking in the twenty-first century. I’ve taken it to heart but someone had to do it first, that’s important, to do it first, be first. I want to mention what that is; you brought Mickey Burke back, people think it’s the rest of what but you did already. Anyway, I’m crazy right now but until mid-March but then if you’re in town, it will be good to have lunch or whatever and I wrote him back and I said, “okay, but can I still carry a coffee? Because I want to learn from the best.
So, always be a student, surround yourself with masters, people that are much better than you, step up your game and seek out that kind of a peer group because, you will just find yourself by osmosis becoming better at what you do or better what you dream of. So, pick your peer group wisely as you move out here and don’t fear failure and I want to show you something that I’ve been working on since then, it’s going to take me into what I was really hoping to talk to you about, it was all sort of the buildup, it’s this network. Last year, when I’ve been busy with my movie career, I went on and I did that, I did that as amazing, as I stand outside of Hollywood and George Lucas told me this, “you know, because you’re outside of Hollywood, you’re going to come up with ideas no one else is coming up with because, you’re outside of the box”. Just like he lives outside of Hollywood, he lives in County. Because when you’re outside of the box, you think outside of box and that’s what you need to do to innovate. So, because you’re in Texas, you’re just going to come up with stuff and sure enough, by staying in Texas and putting my studios here, I started shooting digital twelve years ago before other people in the industry is now catching up. I figured out once I started shooting digital, hey!!! I could put two cameras together and do 3-D digital because, I always wanted to do 3-D before on film but it was impossible, the cameras were archaic but now with digital, you can go do 3-D, I’m sure. So, that was the first digital 3-D movie, it was Spy Kids three, in 2002 I shot that, that became the biggest of the Spy Kids and Jeffrey Katzenberg went,” 3-D is the future, I’ll do 3-D from now on and then, they went on that track but that was a first one And then with Sin City, once I did that movie which was mostly green screen, I’ve realized, why can’t I do something like Sin City and make it look like the comic book by shooting on the green screen, the same way I did that 3-D movie that innovated that technique for Sin City, that people just do now, they just do this kind of movie. You see all those green screen heavy movies, artistic sort of graphic movies.
So, a lot of innovation can come out here and Hollywood will imitate you because, you’re thinking outside of the box. So, whenever you see people going this way, go that way (in opposite direction), like, always think higher. Like somebody said, “What do I do, I got a movie and I’m trying to get into the festival? How do I get people to see it?” but we don’t go to the festivals, won’t go to festivals but you’re competing with everyone else on the same level as you, competing for the same slot. Think bigger, think higher, you know what? there’s less people up there. Everybody is here, trying to get in, up here, nobody, you go up there you find a couple, I think Jim, Jim Cameron is over there, there’s him, there’s George Lucas, there’s you know, thinking up here. No competition, you know, it’s amazing but I thought about getting a T.V. before but why? there’s so many people jockeying for 7p.m. on N.B.C. that it’s like you’re fighting everybody in the industry, think up here. What about a network? What about a network I can put on any show I want it? How many people are for a network?
Last year, a friend of mine who represented in something, he came to me and said, Comcast, the biggest cable provider in the country, is joining with Universal. We’re going to merge, the F.C.C. won’t allow it unless they don’t embrace smaller business, operators are going to kind of go out the window. So they’re making them designate several channels that they have to give away to minority U.S. board owners. They said to me, We’d like you to come on a network that will compete with Univision, my hand went up like that, just like I did with Clinton. What am I going to do with a network? How am I going to that fill up? I already have a film business; my hand went up. What the hell? always follow your inner voice. So, I thought well, I say yes because I have five kids even though they’re bilingual, they live and converse in English, like most second, third generation Hispanics and then there’s nothing on T.V that represents who they are, so just for them. That’s good enough for me to say, let’s start the process and see what happens, I’ll come up with an idea for a network and see what happens but that’s noble enough for an idea, sometimes it starts for a personal reason like that, that’s the best, rather than monetary reason, not that I go make more money, it disturbs me that they don’t have anything T.V. or in media, media images and he taught me, that class I took with you, it is Latin images, that influenced me so much in my career was Latin images, when he showed me the opening to Raiders of the Lost Ark and we all watched and laughed and he said, now look at the line images, look how many cared, colliding, backstabbing lines are in the first-three minutes, he was like, wow!!! you won’t even think about it. We’re like wow!!! I didn’t even think about that. You don’t even think about that, you don’t think about the negative image that goes on and not on purpose, it’s just because people didn’t know, he was just doing it, we need a bad guy, he is a Latin guy. So, I mean, I worked with him later, he wanted to change that by doing Zorro but that’s just what happens. So, if you’re thinking about it consciously, you can actually do the reverse. Whatever we presented in the reverse, there’s a lesser line filmmaker, who’s going to do that. So, I signed up for the network, I went along trying to figure it out and I got it. I gave him a pitch for a network called ‘El Ray’, which was first, second, third generation Hispanic, more male oriented. So I thought movies like Desperado or El Mariachi, Dust to Dawn, see guys, there’s a lot of stuff we’re going to watch, they can watch novellas and be like them, the guys or don’t have anything. And whenever they put like an action movie on ‘Telemondo’, the ranas go to the roof because, they have nothing to watch but then, we decided you know, let’s just make it English though, so we’re changing, we’re kind of adapting with the network, that was the original idea, you know, ideas will change as we go but that was the original idea. They kind of stuck with that already, even though they will appeal to men and women because, you have not heard of the song El Rey, it’s an old classic body actually song called El Rey, which is, guys usually when they get drunk, they sing it to themselves, it’s make them feel like, when you watch this never we’re going to take care of, it’s very historical it’s lot of, actually some pride in it and I don’t know why I picked the name and now it makes sense, now when I tell you this other stuff that’s been happening since this phenomenon, this movement has happened, it makes sense already. Already the words are ready, I don’t have a throne or a queen and I’m on the outside, no one understands me but I’m still the king. It’s like I have nothing but I still have my pride, so, that’s what ‘El Rey’ is. So, I’m going to show you just the images that I’ve been doing over the past twenty years, starting on that El Mariachi because, when I did El Mariachi, I did it for the Spanish video market but also I’m Latin, so the characters are all Latin and when I went to Desperado, I wasn’t trying to make a Latin film with Desperado, it’s just, I want to make an action movie anybody could see but because I’m Latin, characters are going to be Latin probably because, what do you do? they say write what you know or do your Latin and that’s your point of view. So, if it’s not an English straight up action, it’s going to have a Latin actor, Latin character. I found that there was no Latins working in Hollywood, zero and the actors, when I went there ’94, zero. There was nobody, Antonio was the closest thing to a star and he was in Spain doing a lot of our movie, so, I brought him, anchored the movie with him. Some of the water, did think she was anything and this is why being first is important. They said, why didn’t you use Cameron Diaz, he just was in the Mask, that was a hit because It was a hit, see, because somebody did it first and it was okay to use some of the Spanish surnames and link someone that will kind of company Antonio that’s great, I mean, she got in. That was those road racers or you. You know that you could make a hole and with so much to convince them rather but the idea that she said yes but when I realized wow!!! not only do I have to demand to cast Latin but I have to make stars out of them, the first time out. So, I don’t have this problem again because, if I go make another movie, it might be from inspiring another Latin character in there somewhere. If I write it and I’m thinking it’s giving me this hassle every time, I got to make my own stars. So, I did that again on Dust to Dawn. I went to do Dust to Dawn with Quint and he wrote it. He wrote the part that some a place in Dust to Dawn for Madonna who was called Blonde Deft, that’s the character and I said, well you know, it takes place in Mexico, it’s a Mexican bar, so it should be actually a Mexican character, they said, yeah and I said well, I just cast this girl someone had to discover this actress that I did the whole of the movie with just to get to the part in Desperado, so I could cast her in this movie and she’d be great. He said, oh!!! I love her me, let me rewrite the part for her and then I thought, I need her in, I need her to dominate the screen. So, I thought of this dance that she does, this wasn’t in the script, she comes out, does this dance with a snake. A friend of mine had the music for us and that sounds like, it sounds like a snake dance, let’s make a dance where she comes out before she kills everyone. So, when she comes out, Quint is watching, I love her, like the curtain opens and there’s no music, just a curtain, a rickety curtain and she steps out and then the music starts and she does this amazing dance with the snake, even the audience’s jaws to be on the ground, you know, it was like, this is a star. So, there are none of the movies that went out that path, so I just did that throughout my career, even on Spy Kids. Remember it’s a Latin family, it’s based on my brothers and sisters, many things. I wanted to make a movie about my ten brothers and sisters but in a way that wouldn’t turn people off like, oh!!! Why would I watch this guy’s family for? So, when I thought of the Spy Kids angle, I thought, wow!!! that will be an action movie but I still talk about my family. My uncle was a, he was an F.B.I. special agent who brought down two top ten criminals, I was real proud of him, so, I named Antonio’s character after him. My sister Carmen and my brother Cecil Jr Junny, saying after my brother, my Uncle Felix is in there, I mean, my whole family is in this movie in a way and when the studio asked the most amazing question, they go, why are you making them in Latin, I don’t understand it’s in English, why make them Latin, why not just make them Americans, that in America, why are you doing this whole thing? And I go, it is a valid question. So, because my family Latin, it is based on my family, my family’s Latin and it’s going to be like in the Latin ghetto, only Latins are going to watch it. it’s for everybody but to think like, you know, only Latins are going to watch it and then even Latins will go watch if I made it for Latins, they want to be part of the whole world culture. I don’t want to go off a little corner and watch their movies, so, plus, that wasn’t good enough either, then I got to answer, you know what, you don’t have to be British to watch James Bond because, if you make it that specific, it becomes universal right? Okay. So, I thought, wow imagine if I wasn’t a Latin filmmaker, just a regular filmmaker not Latin and they said that, I would go, no you’re right, I would have changed it but we need more Latin filmmakers going to give me the question that you can stump Charles which is. I made a money actually, twenty years ago, I wrote a book on how to do it and everybody want to make movies, you know, you think about going with your buddies and making a movie and maybe getting in the festival, maybe in a studio, that did not exist before El Mariachi, El Mariachi changed independent filmmaking forever. That never happened before El Mariachi, it’s in the Guinness Book of World Records, the lowest budget movie ever released by major studio, that had never happened, that’s just what they call breaking the Enfield. So, it’s looks like, you know, you can only run the hundred-yard dash in seven seconds until someone runs it for 6.8, that’s it, everybody can do it for 6.8, it’s just a mind block but all that was to show people something that they didn’t know was possible, was possible, already works on a much different level which I’ll explain in a minute but mainly doing something that no one’s done before, this horror will show you with this, people hadn’t really done Latin actors in movies before, so, that’s why it was like that, that’s why, yes really there was none, there was none but now it’s everywhere, now even in Sin City, I cast Oprah as an Irish girl because, you can do that now but back then nobody wants to be first, in Hollywood nobody wants to be first. Why isn’t there a Latin network already like this because, nobody wants to be first. It’s a wide open space with the largest, fastest growing minority in the country. The census says we’re one in six now, we will be one in three by 2015 and there’s no Latin network like this at all, why? because, nobody wants to be first, when somebody does it first and they’re successful, then they would go and do it. Once I started shooting digital and figured out 3-D, then they started going and doing it. Once I did Sin City back then, then they started going to do it. See, you always got to be first, we have to be first. I’m going to show you; this is just what I tell people about ‘El Rey’. I going to play this, my band a version of the song for ‘El Rey’, it’s a kick-ass version of it and I just put images from my movies over the past twenty years, you can just see it if you’ve never seen the movies or you’ll get a sense of over twenty years what I’ve been actually doing sort of, it’s the best that I’ve got. I was in Washington talking to the Senator Kerry, what’s the name? it wasn’t Harry but it was one of these straight up Republican, you know and it was like bring back memory, like, yeah, yeah, Spy Kids, yeah, I’ve seen Spy Kids, I was like, what are you doing watching a Latin film, he said, oh!!! I was very entertained. oh!!! Exactly, that’s the whole point, is that, I don’t go have a Latin film, I want to make you feel like, you know, you just want to watch because it’s entertaining, that’s what ‘El Rey’ has to be. Anybody should want to watch it, it’s for everybody and those from Latin can look at it and go, how do we get on T.V. what is this, a pirate T.V. How do we get on that? It was amazing but for anybody to watch, that’s so important, that’s for everybody. So, I’m going to show you just sort of the images that you’ve seen over the years, maybe if you have seen any of these movies, images to the music at this place and then I’ll tell you about ‘El Rey’. This is kind of what I show people, so this what ‘El Rey’ is going to be, what ‘El Rey’ is kind of, this is just taken from my own movies.
(A clip from ‘El Rey’ Network was played)
Please play it again, give it a shot. I don’t mind watching it again. So, I use that as sort of, as a sales pitch, just going to show and then some other kind of programming ideas of what we would do but what I found amazing was, I had to kind of keep the network quiet until a few months ago because, we were working on getting, once I got it, it was an error that I got from these networks and I started hearing it from people in the community. I wanted to go meet prominent people like Antonio, Velma, Jessica, Michelle, just I wanted to go meet them one by one and tell them about the network and the idea of the network, sort of want them to help, you know, populate the network. People started calling me first, the first one, when he saw the photo of a reclusive actor or I were to come you know like, I’ve heard that before, he never puts his head and he said, I want to take you to lunch, what about this network? What’s this network? It’s a T.V show, the show is up. We sit down and we talk, two hours later he gets up get and says, “I got to get away from here, I got too many ideas” next thing he gets up and he leaves. Then I met with Michelle Rodriguez, the same thing, two and half hours later after dinner she’s like, I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight, I got to get out of here, I got to go. It’s like wow!!! this is strange really, this is like really captivating people, this idea. What is about this idea that is captivating them? I feel like because I’m having my own career they feel like, that’s why I’m here, that makes total sense.
I came down to talk to a friend of mine in Austin who has a great restaurant, you’re in there with, you remember that (talking to Charles). The guy name Rene, he’s the chef and I told him, hey!!! we are going to make a restaurant together because, we can make this really entertaining, food show, they have never featured the food in the restaurant on the network, on a show, cooking show. That’s going to be really entertaining, have the guest stars come, they can make a movie. I’ll stick them in the show and we’ll tell you about all these ideas you have, this great idea about food and community and family and I think it’s a great entertaining way to do it because, I need shows for the network, I run a network so I need to start doing stuff like this, and there was this weird thing that happened, like with a lot of Latins I know, his own humility is like something else, kind of has his head down in all off this, he said, no, I don’t really have good ideas. Who is talking about you having good ideas? He says, “well, I’m embarrassed, I’m illiterate in Spanish, I don’t write it very well, read it very well, I can speak it pretty good but the thing embarrasses me and I’m embarrassed by it”. Pretty well he doesn’t want to stick his head too far with his Latin. He speaks Spanish and he says.” Why can’t we just speak Spanish?” and I said, “wow!!! that’s crazy, the Network is in English though, the whole thing sort of is in English, it’s Latin but it is in English so anybody can watch it” and then, he gave me this distasteful look and says, “what do you mean, Porcho?” I was like, how? look at what you just called yourself, you have a negative view of yourself. ‘Porcho’ is, if someone’s like from Mexico. If I go to Mexico I’m not greeted with open arms like a Mexican because I’m born here. You’re ‘Porcho’, you’re ‘Porcho’ means you’re born in the States, speak English and you’re less then, you’re not them and it’s not like a meanness, it’s more like a jab. They jab at you just to kind of say, I know who I am, in Mexico City and who are you? You’re ‘Porcho’ and you are like, okay, because, you don’t have anything to come back with, you’re like, yeah whatever, that’s me open up a whole lot of mess, let me click right then. wow!!! that’s crazy. You have a negative view about yourself and he went, I really never thought about that, I’d struggle with that every day. So, what if I created a network where you could say that’s me, that’s who I am in this country, now, I can show to anyone who’s not Latin, mehn, let’s go watch this film, like it’s cool, like that, I’ve watched that anyway, that’s pretty cool, like the guy who said, “I’ve heard of Spy Kids, I’ve watched Spy Kids”, you know. What do you do watching a Latin network? because, it’s got the coolest shows on it. I said, what if I had that then, that would make a difference and I told the president this, I go, Mr. President we are even more shocked, you tell Latins that we are one hundred and six right now, we’re going to be one hundred and three in 2015, we are shocked, we are like; where is everybody? where are all these guys? where are all these people? where did they go? Well, they all got their heads down like that, you know, so, we give them something that they can say, that’s me, that’s who I am and anyone can watch this and they go, that’s you. That’s you by association, that’s cool, because, that’s freckling cool, I watch that all the time.
And it’s essential that you keep a place like that in Texas because, it would be outside of the box. You don’t need another network, there are so many networks and I found that there’s actually a dog network, there’s a dog network before there’s a Latin network, it’s a dog affair, you actually to put it down in front of it in place and you play sounds and your dog can watch, your dog got, everybody got a network. You don’t need another network, all networks you bring them that way, you got to go the other way. So, the anomalies that hold up a network today, the one or two shows that hold up a whole network, whether it’s like Walking Dead or Madman or Sopranos, or one of those, the whole network changes have. This is the anomalies in a business that just, there’s a C.S.I. they go to C.S.I. and there’s like all these C.S.I. type of shows all the time of this kind of like what are you doing? nobody wants to be first, they wait till someone else is the first and then they copy it, that’s the business, so, go this way, they try to look this way, go that way. So, we go this way and that’s all we do are the anomalies, all we do is something, is cutting edge, cool like M.T.V. was in the old day that what ‘El Rey’ could be, ‘El Rey’ could be something where you go, that’s cooler, underground, independent than anything they got on the T.V networks, who watch that? and if you’re Latin and somebody says, what are you, you’re Porcho or you’re normal ‘El Rey’? I’ll share that on my phone, I’ll share that on my computer, I’ll share that anywhere and they go, “that’s cool, I want to see that, I’ve seen that, actually they have Tivo in ‘El Rey’ now, that’s you, okay, that makes sense”. I mean you have some to come back with, so that’s such a huge thing. So, Mr. President you put something like that on T.V. that anybody can watch, people raise their head from there to there because, suddenly they feel like they belong to something, they don’t feel less than, you feel the number, in fact, even if you’re a number, you want to be a people. We have to move from being a number to being a people because right now, we’re a number that nobody understands and you’ve got an entire population, second, third generation of Spanish, that don’t have an identity. So, not only does a network like this reflect the identity of the people, it shapes their identity because, they don’t have an identity. Yes, they can move your land, they get all wishy washy on you and then you go, I don’t really speak Spanish, I’m not Latin like that, I’m not really American, kind of floating in between somewhere and we’re not on T.V. so obviously, our stories don’t mean anything. So, you do this and they go that’s me, that’s my experience and I can contribute, t’s a huge thing. Now, it’s the big question, it stumped even Charles. This is where the student became the teacher for a moment, when I asked him too because, there’s a big question I ask everybody and it stumped them; how come there were more land filmmakers? I made El Mariachi and I showed everybody how to do it. I get a book, everybody copied it from Blair Witch Project, to Turn Around Activity and everything in between. Anytime some guys want to get together, make a movie and they saw it, they get in because El Mariachi did it but I was part of it
Charles: but it stumped you too. The question stumped you too
Robert Rodriguez: that was twenty years after and I wonder why
Charles: I remember you would come back and you’d say, well I went to this festival or that festival and I stayed afterwards to talk to the crowd and I looked for the Latinos and I didn’t see any Latinos and the years went by and we were both looking for them
Robert Rodriguez: yea, the people make for them break out, I mean. So, I remember, I really wanted that to happen to me because, I remember a friend of mine. Let’s get a car. Okay, but yeah, I just wondering where are the Latin filmmakers, if I asked anybody that question, they go, I don’t know, because they don’t have the means? I did it for seven thousand dollars and if I did that movie today, it would have been seven hundred dollars because, I would have shot digital. So, that’s not an excuse and this is where it gets amazing, I mean, I’ve been telling people. I was in Washington and I was talking to the head of one of those big organ land organizations, the head of that organization and he came to me and he said, “we have identified all these students, some of them are in U.T, some of them are in Stanford, some of them are all over, they are Latin students who are trying to get into the film industry and we’ve identified them, we’re giving them scholarships” (That’s cool, he gives a whole list with their names, that’s cool). We’re trying to build a bridge, that’s where it gets tough of course, trying to build the bridge to Hollywood to try to introduce them to Hollywood, so that they know who to come to, to tell their story”. oh!!! Right there, the thing is going to shake you already but he says, “okay, you don’t need a bridge, you need a battleram”, ‘El Rey’ is the battle-ram because, I’m telling you, if you try to go make a bridge to Hollywood, nobody is going to meet you on that bridge, no one is going to meet you there because, they’re not making this stuff. How come there not a lot of Latin filmmakers? I asked him, he said, well, maybe you don’t have enough self-esteem. I said, really? I don’t believe that and then he said, well you and I are both from south Antonio, maybe, we both have strong mothers. I said, oh!!! really, the others don’t have strong mothers, you believe that? We don’t believe in others; we don’t have enough desire. Oh no!!!, goners, there’re no goners, no goners, stay at home, don’t even try. And I say, keep going, I love hearing we beating each other up, that’s not it either though.
When I made El Mariachi, I didn’t make it for Columbia Pictures, Columbia Pictures bought it, they released it in Spanish, made Guinness Book of World Records because it was to perform. What was I doing? I was making it for that little Spanish market, that got me excited. that got me excited because, I knew they’d buy it for fifty thousand, I could make for ten thousand, that’s a business. I could go turn that around, that got me up my butt, from doing being comfortable, being a cartoonist, to go, that’s an opportunity, I’ll go take a chance on that. Anyone who got excited about my story on El Mariachi, they are Latin. You don’t go think you’re moving, this is why I just barely figured this out because, I was doing that already. If you go to make a movie with your buddies, you go, come on, let’s all get together, let’s make something really famous, contribute fifty thousand, hundred thousand, they’re not going to get very far if we put on your business head and you go, who’s going to buy this? who’s going to distribute this? What four or five buyer can I take this to that can start a bidding war against? They’re all want this project, no one’s even putting this product out. They go, Jesus is making it His little movies up there, but there’s no market for it, it’s in a different studio each time, there’s no like a studio that does these kind of movies, we are even on T.V., Who’s going to buy this? So, what do you do? You sit back down. Why would you so much work to make a movie, to go make it and put the money in and go and have no buyers? that’s not a good business man. You got to know that there’s somebody is going to buy this thing, that’s why there’s no filmmakers and you need a filmmaker because, when I first got to Hollywood, there was all kinds of old guard thinking, you get there and people would say, we got to go protest so that Hollywood puts more Latins in their movies. That’s wrong, that didn’t feel right, what? you want to go make them put Latins in a movie. If you’re an American writer, just like Jewish American writers are writing a story, he’s going to be writing what he knows, he’s going to be writing about his own family or his own personal experiences. He goes to make his movie in the studio and you come to him and say, now, you got to put a Latin in it because, they’re outside protesting, you got to change it to Latin. That’s not going to work, that’s ridiculous. You need more Latin filmmakers, where are the Latin filmmakers? you need Latin filmmakers to sit there and go, no, because, you don’t have to be British to be James Bond, no, because it’s based on my family, no, we’ve got to do it this way because, it’s going to be more universal, you need somebody to make that argument. So, you need a Latin filmmaker, not go and protesting and complaining and whining, you know, they do this close the blinds out there, they don’t look. That’s not the right answer, those guys are always going on the wrong direction but again, if you think differently, you keep thinking and you’re going to find another way and that’s why I’m going to tell you guys and I’m telling everybody around there and I told this guys like, you got to stop beating yourself, I don’t want to hear any more, I don’t want to hear any more reasons why we can’t do it because it’s those are all wrong and you are starting to embarrass yourself. The reason is because, there’s no place to go, they had no place to go. If I put a network like ‘El Rey’, that takes care of all that but I have a network up for all the reasons you can’t get in Hollywood, you can go here, that would get you excited. We make a movie and we send it to Robert Rodriguez, he likes it, he puts it on the network in ‘El Rey’ and he lets us own it because, I’m not a greedy bastard, I don’t need that money. I do that because, when you go into the business, the doors are a lot closed, when you get access to something like this, you don’t want to do it the same way, you do it the reverse. You open the doors up and flip the pyramid, so people would have a chance with this that they would have before, people will make things that they wouldn’t have made the day before just because something like ‘El Rey’ exists why? because, the hope and the dream exists, that if we make it, it will go there. People would make things, if they won’t show it to me, even if they don’t send it to me, they’ll make it because, where hope and dream exists, that there’s a place to go, that’s huge, that’s phenomenal. I had idea for a show called, I try to think of some cheap programming I can make, this really inexpensive to just fill out this schedule because we will need some tearing down, some premiere shows and some of the, I’m trying to think we are all cutting edge differently, something I want to call an El Mariachi theater, where every week we show a movie made by somebody that I gave seven thousand dollars to. They come and they show it and we talk about how they did it, we show the movie, might give another seven thousand dollars to go reshoot some of it. They’ll come back a couple weeks later, we’ll show it again, that’s another two hours of programming and it cost nothing because, this show cost five bucks but at the end of the season, audience decides. The winner gets the El Mariachi treatment, they get to remake the movie like I do with Desperado, they get to remake it and it goes and I was talking to the guy Warner Brothers, the head of Warner Brother, having dinner with them, I was telling them about this idea, they were like, it sounds amazing and he said, the winner gets to, I mean, the networks get to and he said, “that sounds amazing, the winner will get a movie produced, released by Warner Brothers”, anyway, I do that, I do in a second. Nobody wants to help; they are just going to help for the right reasons, you do for the right reason, the right way in mind, people will help you and this great thing that, if you compete against other people, no one will help you, if you compete against yourself, everyone will help you. Something like a raise, that’s competing against ourselves, making ourselves better, improving society because, this affects the whole country. Imagine, if the whole country is growing, where their minority group is exploding like that and it’s an explosion of people who don’t know who they are, what a disservice it is to the entire country, if you know you can change that with imaging, that’s amazing. As I took this to the president, took this to the White House, which sounds like a big deal and it’s not, you get there and you realize because you aimed high, I’m going to take this to the president, I’m going to take this to the White House and I got there and you get there and you are like, this is it? this is good as it gets?
You guys can do anything, you guys can’t even get a posse pass because, it’s so much gridlock, I’m going this way, so you go this way. Bill Cosby said, the most amazing thing, remember The Bill Cosby Show, before you turn, there’s a show called The Bill Cosby show, African-Americans show, before you turn, I was in high school, you guys must not know what it is but there was a show called The Bill Cosby Show, it was phenomenon, everybody would watch that show, everybody; Anglos Latin, Chinese and African-American and Bill Cosby and it was a huge show, people just want to watch it because it was about an American family, it was really entertaining, that one show changed the country. Bill Cosby said, because the show did more for civil rights and the civil rights movement and he was right and that’s the power of entertainment, the power of imaging. If you show people something like ‘El Rey’ and they watch it and they see the kind of programming we have, that is entertaining first, because, it’s got to be subversive about this stuff like, I didn’t know he watched Latin films, he just watched Spy Kids, I didn’t know. So you got to be like that, first be the change everybody wants it, like a drug, they want to watch this because, it’s so different from network T.V. If we go do the Latin C.S.I. we’re dead, we can’t do that, we have to go this way, it’s going to be like M.T.V. when it first started, it’s going to be really cool, it’s going to be so renegade and so different, so always thinking outside the box that people, Hollywood would be imitating it the next year because, that’s that and by getting new voices and getting fresh voices from people and inspiring people to go make things, that’s where it’ll be really cool. If you do that, people watch the network, you change their mind, if they don’t watch it, if they just see this viral clip that goes out continually from this network, that changes their mind. If you don’t even do that, you just put toss of light; “did you hear that clip, have you seen it yet?” They say, “I haven’t seen it yet”, you say,” that’s on the Latin Network, El Rey”, you just changed that person’s mind with a line is in this country, you can change the country like that, that’s how fast it is, that’s how important imaging is. When he (pointing at Charles) taught me in my first class here, twenty years ago, he was showing us the negative side of it, I’m showing you the positive side, what you can actually do because, you know it, what I’m telling you is and you’re nodding your head because you know it, that sounds right, doesn’t it? But who, when and why no one has done this? Because, somebody has got to be first and I only got this opportunity because, two companies wanted to merge so badly that they gave us the network, so now, we’ve got to do something great with it.
You have to do something great with it because, the idea of something like a ‘El Rey’ is bigger than me, it’s bigger than the network. It’s why when I went to talk, I told him about this idea, he was like, it changed his whole way of thinking, he is like, wow!!! it’s amazing, meets our idea, this is crazy. So, he said, where are you work at? we have this idea for a movie and she told me the idea and I said, that’s a series. I’ll show you how to finance that movie so that, you own it and you control it and you can leverage a T.V. deal that I’ll give you and we can use some of that money to start paying for a T.V. series that will continue through the series and you own it, that’s a business, that’s not just an idea that’s a business and she said, “I not going to be able to sleep tonight” and she just takes off. It just changes people’s thinking as it clicks, it clicks in their head and it’s an amazing opportunity to build something, I mean, I’m casting for a new Machete right now and I meet with like Sofia Vergara, Demi Ambicha, who just got an Oscar nomination this year, Michelle Rodriguez and all these people. It’s supposed to be like an hour meeting time on Machete, fifty-two minutes of it talking about ‘El Rey’, by the end I say, ‘do you want to be in Machete, they go,” oh yeah”. But there is other reason, there are other ideas, like all revolutions going on in my head and what we can do as part of this network and it’s such a cool idea because Michelle Rodriguez even said, “you know, I have to go learn a lot of these Latin words in Hollywood, they are just so old-school, they are just so much negative, they are the old guard of this film, negative chip on their shoulder, we always kind of steer away from because, it was not how we wanted to do things, the whole let’s go protesting, it was just like not who we were” and I said, isn’t that amazing, look at the career you’ve had on your own, you’re an avatar, on your own, against all odds, you got an Oscar, Jessica Hermes, Sam Antonio, with his, with the career that I’ve had, that’s on our own. Imagine if we all came together because, who is the new guard? if I was the old guard who did nothing better than new guard who’ve accomplished so much, the old guard just complains a lot, they to do very little. The new guard, that’s the new guard and what do we say? we’ve got to give people heroes and who’s the heroes; the audience is the heroes because, we’ve got to empower them to be the next, like I’m here talking to you because, I’m here but I already know it’s passing already. I just barely got here, you know, like my reign is over, it’s about turning it over to somebody else.
So, when you make something like ‘El Rey’, you can do anything, so, imagine that show like, imagine that show, how do you get that message out, that the audience is the hero? Like I show El Mariachi hour, like I show ‘El Rey’ right here. You can use seven thousand dollars to go make a movie that’s really entertaining, that anybody is going to want to watch, it’s got the message involved in there, somehow subversively in a lot of angle, subversively, it’s like hitting you with a laden stick again and for instance, we give them different criteria each time, like and you can use again. So, I built the whole career on using guns and it’s a cheap trick and I want you not to be hobbling with a crutch, I want you to run because, you’re the hero, so, that’s how you’d like to turn it over to people. What if I fail? As people have asked me; what obstacles do you face and what are your biggest challenges with creating a whole network, that’s insane, how are you going to do that? keep aiming higher. Why would I want to go run a network when I’ve got a whole movie business? Because, there’s such a great reason to, which is why all these guys would want to be a part of it because, you’re going to change people’s minds. You have to go make more money, that’s a result, you’ve got to have a why, it’s another big thing. It’s a whole of another talk, I’m going to give you the quick version of that. When you wake up every morning, you need to know why, start with why. What are you right now, are you students? that’s what you do. How do you do that? you go to school. Is it like taking online courses or is it all classes like this? classes like this, that’s how you do it. So, many people start from what they do, to how they do it, very few people think about why, you’ve got to start with why. so, let me explain why that’s important; because when you know why you’re doing something, you can attain things much better and much clearer, your decision making becomes much more important, much easier too.
Apple for instance, does it like perfectly. When you have a computer company that just makes computers and they say, what do you do? I make computers. How do you do it? I use the highest grade of technology, the coolest products, the coolest gadgets that speak to you, that’s how I do it. Do you want to buy a computer from me? No. Apple starts the other way; they start with why they are doing it. We think differently, we think you think differently too, we think you’re an individual and you see one of our ads, there’s not ten people enjoy it, even if there is one, we want to make product that speaks to your individuality, how are you going to do that? Well, already you believe that, yeah!!! I’m an individual, I think differently than other people, I want something that’s customized to me, how are you going to do that? we use the best technology to make the sexiest equipment that you’re going to want. What do you do? I sell computers or I sell phones; do you want one? Yes. Talk about why; why are you doing this? So, people wanted to compete with the network and they didn’t get the network and they say, why are we not at the network? Why do you want to do a network? comes down to always like a business reason. Well, I made a bunch of movies, we don’t have a T.V. deal and I’ve had a network and I could sell my own movies to myself and make money that way. You know, you don’t deserve to be there, you got to have a good reason why you are doing it. So, if you clarify why you’re doing anything, you’ll find the rest of the success comes much easier and what if I fail? What if I fail at this? this is the other reason I told that lady; what if you invested a year and half your life and you failed? Well, if you fail, you look for those keys to success but if you can’t find any keys in there, what do you tell yourself then, well, tell yourself, maybe you’d connect the dots later, you’ll realize why later or there’s another reason. My dad told me the most amazing story, so, I’m going to try and succeed as much as I can with the Network, I’m going to go as fast as hard as I can, try to break through many barriers. I don’t know what barriers there are and if I did look and know, I probably wouldn’t do it but I’m going to go figure now as we go. My process is, when you hit a wall, you back up and you hit it again harder and you hit it again harder and then, when you’re bleeding, you are like, okay, I’m going to go around it or over it but you always figure out a way but you don’t have to worry about how many walls that’s going to be, just go, go, go, as fast as you can.
My dad told me the most amazing story, I thought about just a couple months ago because, I’ve forgotten it. I was in high school and he said, “come here, this guy on the news, he just won marathon by a lot, they thought he cheated, he was so far ahead of everyone else, they just interviewed and asked him why, how he did it”. he said, “well, when I started off the race, I was running with this guy I didn’t know, he’s ran a really fast clip back, too fast to win the race and we were running, I figured he had slowed down after a while, we were leaving everybody in the dust and we were going, going, we can’t keep this pace but keep going at that pace. Funny, halfway through, we get distracted, we were talking, we were growing at that pace, halfway through the race he goes, I’m out of here. He didn’t intend to run the whole race; he was only going to run half, that was his goal. He left, I kept running at a pace and I won, I won by a lot because I just kept running at that pace already”. And my dad said, what? wow!!! it’s amazing. My dad said, sometimes you’re not the guy who wins the race but the guy who sets the pace for someone else to win.
Charles: Thanks Dad, thanks Dad.
Robert Rodriguez: Yeah, that’s my Dad, thanks Dad. Well, that kind of caused my whole career, now I know why I never won a race, I’m always like the guy who set the pace. But then, El Mariachi, El Mariachi changed everyone’s mind on how they can make movie, they took that and they ran with it. El Mariachi made only about a million dollars at the Box Office, Blair Witch Project later on, it was the biggest independent film of all time, like you know, that’s my success, I helped to set the pace for that. Ran half way, as fast as I could, that’s where everybody else went, that’s part of my victory. When I did 3-D, people remember Avatar, they don’t remember Spy Kids 3-D you know, that was the biggest of the Spy Kids at the time, that’s what started that whole three rays. People would think, are you going to shoot a movie, people would say, “are you’re going to shoot Sin City again on the green screen, like 300?” 300 came after Sin City, it was actually Sin City but you remembered 300 and nobody remembers Sin City but that’s what you do, you set the pace and you go. So, if we go as fast and as hard as we can with this network idea, because it’s such a big idea, it’s bigger than the network because the network is just a foothold, the network is actually an archaic-type system, that we’re retrofitting to sell an idea, an idea that can capture people’s imagination to become a movement. If you can do that, run the race, get my buddies, go fasts and hard as you can, break as many barriers down, if we crash and burn, from the ashes of my failure, please come pick up the key to success, take the baton and finish the race for me, please because, that’s what will happen and that’s great because people would get an idea off your failure. Your success could be the success of the society if you’re doing it for good why, if you have a good why, it’s more than just for selfish reasons or results, like just to make money, that’s a result. Think about why you’re going to do anything before you get into film, whatever you do, why am I doing this? that way your success could be the success of society. Your failure could trigger the success of society, you crashing and burning would give someone the idea and go share the right idea. She did this way, what if I did it this way. You help somebody make it across the finish line that they never would have made it, it will make sense and that their success is your success, that’s not so bad.
I’m open it up to some questions, first from Charles, because I just want the thrill of being asked a question by Charles, something and then to whatever you guys want to talk about, I just wanted to bring this to you because, I was telling everybody else, ‘important people’ and I thought you guys are the most important because you’re the next wave. Thank you.
Charles: When we were emailing back and forth and you know, trying to figure out a date when this could work and all of that and you know, now that one won’t work, we would try this one and you know and we have a cancellation and I apologized but in the midst of all this, I just said thank you for doing this and he said, no, no, this is important, this is a way to touch the future, this is you know, this is how I get to talk to the future. You know, he’s thinking of you and he’s thinking of what’s the next generation of Latino filmmakers, media makers, going to be like and it’s going to come from people in this room, I hope. So, one of my questions is, it almost sounds like if you become N.B.C. you will fail
Robert Rodriguez: N.B.C is owed by a collogmorate
Charles: I know
Robert Rodriguez: this is an independent network and we are already not like them but it depends in which way you know
Charles: In another words: if you start regular programming and you’re trying to get, you know, C.S.I, you are trying to get that one hit that will keep everything going.
Robert Rodriguez: No, that’s not the way to go, you wouldn’t want to do that, that’s what we don’t want because, I don’t think we would be successful because too many networks, they have their own strategies to keep up their own success, how do you even stay relevant? a lot of it is why, why do they even exist? A lot of them exist to make money.
Charles: Well and they’re using a model that’s about sixty years
Robert Rodriguez: An old model. You really need an idea, like I’m working with Facebook right now to create the social media aspect of the network because you know, they say, conventional works says, make 8 shows in a season, we will make six and spread them out and spend more in social media, when people see this stuff, they’re going to want to talk about how it affects them and they’re going to that through social media.
Robert Rodriguez: We want the social media aspect to be really strong because, that’s what this thing is and I never feel like I was part of something till now, I really feel like I’m a part of something. I mean, I see how it unites just the actors that I’m with.
Robert Rodriguez: It’s crazy, it’s crazy how that works.
Charles: I’d like to see Bennie Detroit program on acting.
Robert Rodriguez: You know, all those crazy stuffs he does on acting, I mean and then other things that he hasn’t even thought of yet, that he will now think about because it exists. Now there’s a place to go, you get, that’s why he got up because, he’s selling off Florida with ideas, just because there was now an opportunity, that’s how much an opportunity changes and I wouldn’t have made ‘El Mariachi, have I not heard of that opportunity in that Spanish video market, that allowed me, I went up there but I mean, that at least got me moving right. When you start moving again, what happens? Karma meets you halfway, at least halfway and takes you through the rest of the work, all those stuffs start clicking.
Charles: Do we have any questions from the audience?
Are you going to have news?
Whether we are going to have news? We might, I mean, I was talking to Michelle and she said, “wow!!! you mean you could do a new show, like the real news, like real stuff, you are to be dangerous, whatever gets people talking, you know, if it’s good for people, maybe we should do it but after a while, you start thinking about all the shows that don’t exist, all the stuffs that doesn’t exist, wasn’t the first question, how are you going to feel a network? by the end of the night we’re talking and she was like, we are going to need three networks, there are so many things that don’t exist out there, it’s amazing and specially if you’re Latin, that’s actually a good thing because no one is telling your story. See, you actually have this gold in your pocket, you realize you have it, something no one has had before. Everything is so recycled these days that you forget there are original things out there and there’s original things that other people are going to want to hear because, they feel part of it and it’s bigger, it has a bigger response that you can imagine, I didn’t know that. I put my hand up last year, I didn’t see this, I just thought, oh!!! it’s something I can do for my kids. I didn’t see this, it wasn’t like this idea that I did that people outside grow like a weed, the next morning, they would call me with all these ideas and I’m like, that’s a movement that’s not beyond you and you know, it’s a movement because there’s a close encounter, not everybody goes to Devil’s Tower. I started going, how I’m going to do this network by myself? and when you get there, you start meeting these people, they all start coming, they’ve all been on the same journey and they’re meeting you and they go, you got a network? I’ve been running a show the past year, I don’t even know why and you are like, I know, I can imagine that, I had a feeling you were going to tell me that, they’re really bizarre, why last year? Michelle started well last year too and we never talk to each other, that’s what this thing that happens, that’s when you know something is in the air because, you have been growing, growing and we don’t have a place to go and it’s going to manifest itself and that’s just the beginning.
You mentioned a very important step helping to define and embrace a Latino identity is providing the image and the media some people can say I belong there. How about the next step; empowering them and given them political voice. Do you see yourself with a mission in that direction, helping to articulate that? Empowering and giving political voice to the people, so they can see okay, this is how we get…
Charles: Giving people a political voice.
And through the network? I mean it’s possible, we could do it, I mean, that’s the thing, we can do anything we want, we are going to define the network any way that we want but we definitely, you know, why I’ve been talking to both Democrats and Republicans is to get support for this network because, it’s important that everybody believes in it and they all got it, it was amazing how many people just got it, it’s actually a hundred percent at the time and they all got it, they knew that it was necessary for the country. And they’re all trying to reach the same audience, I mean the president was like, you’re identifying something really important by allowing an identity and we’re trying to do the same thing, we need your help too, so anything that you can do to help us. So, very like-minded in what we’re trying to do, their hands are tied a lot because of how this system works, so wacky, you can actually do more through entertainment and politics sometimes, that’s pretty amazing, you know. That’s why if you want to get into the entertainment business, don’t think of it as kind of a fame things, you guys actually could do a lot with that, when you think about The Cosby statement and you think through it.
Charles: Well, the thing is, we don’t even know if we can do, we have no idea what the potential could be because, we’ve never gone down that road.
Yeah and the potential even for the business itself, the industry is changing all the time, I mean, there will be other ways to create imaging and get to people that people haven’t thought of, that you’re going to think of because, you’re going to be thinking outside the box. When everyone’s trying to T.V and movies, maybe there’s something new and you would come up with something new.
As part of your idea of thinking outside the box, are you wanting to base it here in Texas rather than in Hollywood, like most of the studios?
Yeah we’re going to base this in Texas, definitely.
Where? In case we want to Intern.
At least a bunch of the stuff, I mean there’s a whole network, so some things will have to be made, maybe other places and Latinos are all over the country. So I’m thinking, wherever you are, we will have you make from where you are. I mean. here we’re going to do a lot of stuff here, the bigger shows that I’m doing, I’ll be doing from Austin.
Are you thinking of having like internships?
Yes, we are going to have internships for sure. Everybody wants to come work for ‘El Rey’. I mean, I had this older gentleman, he didn’t even hear this pitch, he just saw ‘El Rey’, Latin network and he came to me and said, I’ll quit my job and I’ll come running errands for ‘El Rey’, because I want my kid Justin to believe in me. So yeah, I want to open it up to everybody because, I want to empower people to go like, this is your network, not my network, ‘El Rey’ belongs to the people, you know and for everybody who wants to watch too, It’s not just for Latins.
Hey Robert Rodriguez, I was just curious. I’m currently taking Latino images in film right now and I was just curious, how do you think ‘El Rey’ will help combat maybe stereotypes, that have been perpetuated through the media of Latinos just throughout the years?
Well, he is just giving another point of view because again, there are not a lot of Latin filmmakers, you are not given the point that there were. Like, if I just watched the news, we are the most horrible people in the world, like there was another Robert Rodriguez Rodriguez that will just like kill ten people, what’s that? Most of the people I know aren’t like that but you never see those stories. So, is not like that there is negative imaging, it’s just imaging isn’t, you know, they are not providing another view. So, it’s so unnecessary, you know, that population is growing and that’s all they’re seeing? they even start thinking that about themselves, look at this guy who runs this organization, look at all the horrible things he said about us because, he can figure out why we’re aren’t filmmakers. They bring up all kind of reasons that were not even true, so because someone didn’t just hand him their idea, that was true. So when you can show people the truth, that’s how you change things and that’s what you can do through entertainment, subversively to entertain them, you just entertain them and while they’re laughing, they learn something that they don’t know before. Sometimes they hear it on the street and they go, that’s not right, I know this now, right because now, I know the truth and that’s how you can change everything with that, Imaging, popular entertainment, you can change the world with that, for the Beatles there, you can do everything with that. So it’s very important, there are a lot of ways you can go, I can do more in politics, I can do more than the government, I can do more with entertainment and that’s really empowering to know that, you know, you now have a famous studio on your laptop, where you can change the world.
Hi Robert Rodriguez, I’m from Chile actually. You talk a lot about the filmmaking so if the future. I want to know if you could recommend or suggest some new names of filmmakers from Chile, Argentina, Mexico, that maybe you can suggest or maybe we can be aware of their steps and new people, what people you can then say, maybe, I heard you have good friendship with Nicholas Lopez from Chile, maybe, what others can you suggest?
Robert Rodriguez: There’s a lot of filmmakers from every country and I just got one right now that wants me to see a screening, (clean the nose) there’s this guy from Mexico that wants me to go see his movie. People are reaching out to me now because of the network, they’re saying; come see my movie, we’re trying to find a distribution but it’s a big hit even at the agency which is not a Latin agency. And they’re excited about this movie that’s winning all kinds of awards like, it got a record of Ariel Awards in Mexico, I can’t remember the name of all of them but it’s like some of these people I haven’t even met yet. A lot of these guys I haven’t even seen their films yet and what I’m going to get to do with the network is not just show and that’s the big thing with the network, the movie is your own, tell the movie and all of those stuffs.
Robert Rodriguez: The stuff is made in other countries and is imported here, some are made here but a lot of it’s not even made here, so we don’t have programming for Latin films made in this country. So, that’s what we’re going to do for this but just want to introduce filmmakers and movies from other countries as well, like, you know, we might create something where you can show your films that we’ve selected as being things, that this audience we think would really like, so that people would know where to go, they’ll know what to watch them, know where the movie is created because, there is so much out there. We need something that kind of narrow the focus for us, so that we can get exposure to these filmmakers, exposure to maybe that’s an idea, like how do we feature like a different country besides this country because, we want to do a lot of stuff in their country too. Thanks. A lot of questions here, it’s good, people don’t normally ask questions.
I know this filmmaker but he’s from Greece but he’s based in L.A, I know he’ll be interested in ‘El Rey’ and producing something for it, how should he connect with the network?
That’s good a question. How do you get to meet ‘El Rey’? You know, you guys are hearing this early, we haven’t set that up yet but the thing is, if we do, we’re going to put it out through the media, social media and how you can actually clue up, people could submit things because we will, need programming right away for the network. The network launches at the end of next year and there’s not a lot of time to make stuffs, we will have to acquire content, we want to have people make content for us and we’ve already started making content now that we can start leaking out on the internet, with you know, there are a lot of people know what this thing’s going to look like and they would want it, they would want to go see it and so, we can already start to change now but it really hits the Internet next year. Thank you. But we’ll let you know how you can do that.
Hey!!! Robert Rodriguez, I know you’re a musician and I was wondering what ideas you’ve been throwing around for inter-musical content to bring that to the ‘El Rey’.
Robert Rodriguez: Good question, I mean we think that’s one of the big things is, there are more question back there is the music, it’s the music that hasn’t been featured before or heard before or seen before, I mean, I told a musician friend of mine and he goes, wow!!! he cared for the show like on the spot, how he could travel around the country like in twenty- four hours, put a band, get these different bands put a show together and introduce all kinds of bands and he can just travel around and do this and set this up. That’s cool, that wouldn’t even cost anything, everybody wants to put on a show for you and we could put it right on the network, no strings attached, that would be great.
Robert Rodriguez: You know, it’s a lot of ideas and music is a big one because, I mean even that thing I showed you, that was just my band playing the music. I did this show where I show those images where we played music from the movies and we made stars out of these; Antonio and Salmon and all of those guys, half of that was in music, I think, how you identified with the picture, it’s not just the image that you are seeing but the music as well, really important, so, I think music will be a big stuff. That’s my band, Bill Dorca still plays in that band, those other guys, same guys, that’s the singer you heard, that’s correct, that’s our version of ‘El Rey’, on iTunes, of course.
Robert Rodriguez: You know, it’s a lot of ideas and music is a big one because, I mean even that thing I showed you, that was just my band playing the music. I did this show where I show those images where we played music from the movies and we made stars out of these; Antonio and Salmon and all of those guys, half of that was in music, I think, how you identified with the picture, it’s not just the image that you are seeing but the music as well, really important, so, I think music will be a big stuff. That’s my band, Bill Dorca still plays in that band, those other guys, same guys, that’s the singer you heard, that’s correct, that’s our version of ‘El Rey’, on iTunes, of course.
Hi Robert Rodriguez. Thanks for coming today, I seen you a couple of times here on campus and I wanted to ask you two short questions
Robert Rodriguez: I was lost when you saw me walking around, by the way
Two short question, the first one I was going to ask is in the same line of two people up there in front. When it comes, everyone’s wanting a piece of this and I really appreciate your enthusiasm but I’m wondering, when it comes to advertising in the commercials and people wanting to kind of march off your great idea, are you going to be cautious with what they’re going to do with the Latino image and are you going to have like an advisory council? I know you have, you know, celebrities and a lot of people around you, giving you advice and everything like that but I’m wondering about commercials and advertising, I don’t know if you’ve seen that Taco Cabana commercial; with a lady who’s talking about her mother-in-law and her throwing away. She’s speaking Spanglish
Robert Rodriguez: Oh!!! you know what? if not seen that but I feel what you are saying, will they make special commercials just for the Network? You know, it’s a really good question. I mean, the advertisers, we want to attract something, I’m still learning all that stuff about T.V, I’m learning about it, it makes total sense. Who you choose as your advertisers shows your audience the quality of your network.
So, you only want to start with people that are, you know, of category, where they don’t like cheesy stuff but also like you’re saying, if they go and they make commercials that think might be doing something good for the you when they are doing the reverse, of course you have to catch that, that’s a whole lot of a problem that you should run. It’s about you think about your wife like a watchdog and make sure that they don’t have something slippery and they don’t notice and it’s not like they’re doing it on purpose because, they don’t know yet. If you educate people, they will know that that’s not right. You will be amazed how people don’t know that’s wrong, I mean, I haven’t even seen it but I imagine that’s not right, from what you’re saying.
Robert Rodriguez: Robert Rodriguez: Yeah and with your network here it seems like you’re so open- minded and you’re willing to show all these perspectives and that’s also something to think about because there’s really all kinds of Latinos right?
Robert Rodriguez: Yea, there are all kinds but you want to include everybody because they are some that are blonde here, blue-eyed, they feel like they’re less than they’re like in the subgroup of a subgroup of a subgroup, right? And it’s crazy
and the second thing I really wanted to tell you is that; every day at my school, I have to tell the kids because, they always ask me where is Maxi’s Journal here, Maxi’s journal, go to the fiction section R.O.D, the author is the same as Rodriguez and they go there and it’s never there, it’s always checked out or Maxi’s Journal was actually stolen.
Robert Rodriguez: What school is this?
Robert Rodriguez: It’s on the east side, it is called Sanchez.
I got a bunch of copies of those books, Linda, you talk to her and get her a bunch of books.
I would love that, I’d really appreciate that and I’ll share with other librarians because we’ve talked about that on the list sort like, anybody know where we can get Maxi’s journal? and all the kids love it.
Robert Rodriguez: Well that’s a real hard on, people will get that for a lot of money
And for all these collegians that don’t know, it’s this really small manual and when you open up the pages, it’s a kid writing his journal and they love it, I mean
The journal came from a movie; the images from Shark boy, my son came up with that movie, my nine- year old son.
And if you want to touch more lives come to my school I invite you. You’re always welcome.
Thank you, I might I bring Shark boy himself, the boy who created it
Robert Rodriguez: He likes to go talk to students, he’s fifteen now but he came up with that when he was eight.
Hello, I just want to ask you, I had been reading on Yahoo about how you want to start an animation house. I want to know like where are you in the process of developing it and how’s it?
Wow!!! we just started an animation company called Quick Drawing Animation, we’ll be doing a couple of animation features here in Austin and we will open doors on next Wednesday, we are just getting first funding drops and it’s outside people funding. We don’t have to go to a studio, we do it outside of the system and when we create an animated product, it’s here
Is that like a full service, like animation house, you know, like 2-D, 3-D
It’s going to start off with a core group of artists I work with directly and they will start expanding, stuff out to different like-minded vendors at first until we build up the artists here but we just start, we don’t want to go starting too big, we want to start smaller with projects or maybe you can make your idea big, you’ll spend a lot on it rather than doing a small idea for a big budget, do a big idea for small budget.
I mean how are you going to make money, are you going to use the normal business model that, you know, that everybody uses in cable television or are you trying to do something different?
Robert Rodriguez: What’s the business model or actually it’s been interesting to figure this out as we go overnight and a couple of people that have done this before you guys. I hooked up with the guys that actually brought me the idea originally, they had already created a Network and they had found that they couldn’t get there, there was an agent that used to represent Salmon, that’s where I knew him. He was working with guys like Michael Bay and he was a big agent and he did Transformers and I found he was working with Hasbro, he’s the one who brought Hasbro to Michael Bay when he went to go put some of this programming on T.V. And he choose those networks that say, we don’t let you put anything on unless we own it, so he said, let’s go make our own network, so they went took Discovery Kids, refaced it and called The Hub he created and they can put any programming they want on there that doesn’t have to be owned by the network, that other people can put on and then he came to me with this idea and said Comcast is going to merge and you should own the network and we will help you put the business plan together and we’ll get find answers. So we’re not going to go for the short term sell it out just get enough to get going there. I mean it’s interesting it’s all of the side to it but just be creative every step of the way you want to think outside the box, you want to think, how can I do this different. We were doing something really different here at the start, just do it. They say like for you to go the traditional route, you have to go traditional all the way, even down to the finest. You’ve got to rethink the whole system and think more like an entrepreneur.
Hi Robert Rodriguez, my name’s Allie and I’m inspired by you mostly because, you really pushed envelope and like you said, you went over bears were there for you and sort of created this whole independent market. So I mean, I’m Latino but I feel inspired by your drive and your passion. So I guess, I wonder like who you really marketing to with this network and it just supposed to be for Latino’s or like that sort of viewer or is it more meant for people who want to push the envelope and follow their passions and do something new. With the last thing you said, if I want to push the envelope to do something new and see something really innovative and creative and entertaining, first and foremost and then for those looking deeper will go, wow!!!! it’s Latin content, made by a Latin but it’s not Latin in a way that makes it for everybody because, everybody’s going to have to want to watch it, if you make it for Latins, even Latin might never go do watch that. Already almost to make all these great movies, you know, how come nobody came? because you’re making it, you’re making it have a Latin stake and Latins don’t want to go feel like they’re in school, they want to be entertaining. It is a great movie but it still feels like you have to go to school to watch, that’s not what you want, you’re more subversive than that. You know, want tRobert Rodriguez: o laugh, they want to enjoy things, they want to pass it around to their friends, they say, check this out. So, how you do that, that’s how you become an edge, that’s how to be innovative, how do you accomplish that? So, that’s what it has to be first and foremost and that’s what I believe, that’s a good question. No, not just Latins, we want it to be as inclusive as possible. Over here they will go back this way.
Are you going to have shows made for and by Latinos to just break these gender stereotypes?
Are you going to have shows made for and by Latinos to just break these gender stereotypes? definitely, ask why I’m talking about you guys having a bunch of show ideas, we already have some bunch show ideas, you know, people that can start inspiring other people to make stuff too, so that you go. We’re just going to start but you guys have to come finish. So, you will get inspired by those things, got to be how you get the first you know people to look at the network by using the star name but really the stuff that I know is going to be more attractive to people but people there are going to really like it, it’s going to take off as the new stuff, by new voices they’re thinking differently, not in the establishment so much, we need something that is going to start the football and get attention. And the flash is really good for that but who’s going to deliver the goods, are going to be like, people like wonder, they came out of nowhere came out of nowhere, I came out of nowhere. So, that’s where the next generation is and what I mean the next year, that’s where this generation is going to be coming from. Those are the people they’re going to pop up the meal, they are hungry and ready to go and they wanted to make stuff that nobody seen before because, they’ve already been feeling it. It’s like I say, it’s like Devil’s Tower, it’s all going to be shown up there where you’re with your guns, it’s going to be fantastic.
Hi My name Adina. I am an Irish G-major, which is international relations and global studies and my culture is arts media. I don’t know how bold this is of me or like I know a lot of people are thinking this because, you’re so amazing and so cool and laid back. But first thing, I will try but I could fail, so, could I work for you, maybe?
I don’t want you to work for me, I want you to work for yourself.
Well, like I mean, I could start somewhere, I like to learn, you know, like you started making films so maybe it’s never started me
Robert Rodriguez: It’s going to take an army to put this whole thing together. I came to you all really quickly because, I’ve only been taking this around, like the big wigs, normally I would probably wait till we had something to hold up and go here, you know put your voice here so we can get in contact with you but I don’t have that set up yet. So I’m a little premature but we will soon. And you all will be the first to know because you’re in Austin, so, I’ll tell Charles to let you guys know.
Charles: We have time for one or two more question
Hello, so how are you going to rethink television shows or something, you know, you have the standard series or season twenty-two shows, like a year.
Why are you doing Network? Well, like when you start thinking about I was talking to somebody today and they came to me, why is it thirty minutes? why is it now? or why is it?
Yeah, I mean, I’m a I’m a huge fan of the Novellas
Robert Rodriguez: Make it go on one direction. You make it anything you want, that’s what’s so exciting. It’s like come up with an idea and don’t think, well, as much as I want to do this, that’s not the model, we’ve got to follow what everyone else is doing, we throw that out the window. So, you know, we’re just coming up with something, now I can’t say, with some many ideas and I’ve told it to some people, people that I Robert Rodriguez: have told to, they just go. Nobody’s doing that and nobody would do that because, the people are trying to come do stuff here too, people that would never work in television but they’ll come work for ‘El Rey’, well, it’s cool, it’s independent, it’s different, they’ll come do stuff for this network. People will come work for this network, they will never do anything for a network otherwise because, it’s not a network, it’s like something else and they can come up with anything because that’s what’s going to, people will start copying what we do if we do outside the box.
Robert Rodriguez: We don’t copy them whereas we imitative, we do our own thing, we innovate and it’s got to be about innovating and what happens if you go that direction and it fails, so what? look at what you did figure it out and you go, that will take you some other direction. So, we will seek failure all the way because, you know, you might tumble upon the right idea. Go try something, doesn’t work switch it out, try to get this, do something else and we’re going to find five hit shows, where one network might just have one because that’s the anomaly, we’re all going to do it anomalies, so that the whole thing has a chance to be really crazy successful and entertaining and like mean people want to see it. So you have to go that way, so it’s like, don’t go this way, go that way. See, I don’t want to follow the traditional route, we’ll just do it despite maybe, there’s some good ideas, to go twenty two’s show but that never made sense to me anyway. So people are already rethinking those, there are a lot of networks that put on a show, there’s only six shows in a season now, sometimes, they just can’t afford to keep up their money, so they just keep the quality up and do less, if we did more like that, did less and put more social media in between and that would be the key thing to try to choose how people actually watched up today, use up things, share things like today.
Robert Rodriguez: We don’t copy them whereas we imitative, we do our own thing, we innovate and it’s got to be about innovating and what happens if you go that direction and it fails, so what? look at what you did figure it out and you go, that will take you some other direction. So, we will seek failure all the way because, you know, you might tumble upon the right idea. Go try something, doesn’t work switch it out, try to get this, do something else and we’re going to find five hit shows, where one network might just have one because that’s the anomaly, we’re all going to do it anomalies, so that the whole thing has a chance to be really crazy successful and entertaining and like mean people want to see it.
Robert Rodriguez: So you have to go that way, so it’s like, don’t go this way, go that way. See, I don’t want to follow the traditional route, we’ll just do it despite maybe, there’s some good ideas, to go twenty two’s show but that never made sense to me anyway. So people are already rethinking those, there are a lot of networks that put on a show, there’s only six shows in a season now, sometimes, they just can’t afford to keep up their money, so they just keep the quality up and do less, if we did more like that, did less and put more social media in between and that would be the key thing to try to choose how people actually watched up today, use up things, share things like today.
Okay, You’ve talked a lot about narrative, I’m curious if you have thought about documentary programming at all, is there are opportunities for documentarians and socially conscious programming?
Absolutely. You know, I think you want to make it a place, you know, where we’re just thinking this through but that was one of the places, when we gave our pitch, we had documentary in there too because, people are going to say that this is a place they can go hear stories they’ve never heard before, that always have to be dramatized, they can be, you know, reality, they could be real, they could documentary and I think that will be so far more powerful programming, I think it will be.
Charles: The last person
Last but not least. I just wanted to say; I drove here from Dallas to see you, like, last minute, yeah I found out last night. So I’m kind of nervous because, I love you. If you have a minute, I would love to take a picture with you afterwards.
She wants to take a picture with me, okay, sure, absolutely.
and one more thing the network, I just love the idea. I used to have that idea, oh!!! I want to have a Spanish Network that caters, so but it’s going to be, you know, I see it like BET, you know but it doesn’t have to be, I know a lot of people, I watch BET, you know, so you know, I think that it’ll be great and I’m excited.
Robert Rodriguez: Yeah, I try to say, I mean, it’s hard to say what it’s going to be like but I try to say, I want to remember when I was a kid and M.T.V. had first hit, we all couldn’t get our cable hooked up fast enough to see this thing, that was so different, that had never been there before, it was so innovative, so renegade, that you bought into the idea of the whole network. You don’t go to watch it for like, if you watch
Robert Rodriguez: You don’t go to watch it for like, if you watch Walking Dead, you like Walking Dead, it’s not that you’re, you don’t think I’m an emcee guy. You don’t say that, you don’t say like, everything they put on, I’m going to watch because, it follows an idea that I believe in, doesn’t do that, that’s like, if you have a network that has an idea that you believe in, that you identify with and you go, that makes me feel a certain way, that is me. That’s like Apple, that’s like Nike, that’s like a lifestyle brand, that’s like I’ll follow that wherever it goes; that’s what we are trying to create. Thank you all.
Charles: Thank you Robert Rodriguez.