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Q&A: Robert Rodriguez on Becoming a TV Mogul

Robert Rodriguez has been making movies prolifically since his 1992 debut with “El Mariachi,” made for $7,000. Last year, he turned his attention to TV, partnering with Univision to launch the English-language El Rey Network, now available in 40 million homes. Its first scripted show, “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,” launched March 11; El Rey also shows films, animated shows, reality and sports and plans more original fare.

How did a filmmaker become a TV mogul?
Ever since “El Mariachi,” the television world has been interested in me: “You can make things fast and cheap. You’re perfect for TV!” But I had creative freedom in films and there were too many maybes in TV. Three years ago, I thought about a network. The Univision people were interested in the fact it was going to be English-language. They wanted to get into that business and they liked that I was going to do the programming.

What’s your mandate?
We start with an identity based on creative freedom: There won’t be a lot of executives to say “You can’t do that” because there are no executives! It’s a network for the people.

How involved are you?
I do everything but turn on the television set for you. It’s a startup, a small network, so I’m very involved. In the past five months, I’ve directed six hours of television. That’s a lot. I’m also editing and working as the f/x supervisor. I also shot “Matador.”

What’s been the industry’s reaction?
I’ve been approached by a lot of filmmakers and producers who have seen the level of quality and support we’re giving our shows and say, “I have something that I think will fit.” People working here are excited. They like getting a commitment to do 10 episodes, or 13 for “Matador.” It’s not like making a pilot and not knowing its fate.

And what’s your reaction been?
It’s exactly what I was hoping it would be. I didn’t know if it was achievable, but it is!

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