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Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network Wants to Find Talent on Internet

El Rey Network, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s cable channel, is launching “The People’s Network”: an online initiative to solicit creative ideas from aspiring directors, writers and other talent — with the ultimate aim of bringing unknown creators to TV.

The effort kicks off this week with the cabler’s “Epic Summer Movie” poster contest, inviting fans to design and submit a poster representing their idea for an amazing summer pic. Eventually, El Rey Network will seek submissions including scripts, short films and other creative projects, and plans to team up talented individuals it discovers through the process with industry professionals.

“When I started out, I didn’t have this kind of support,” Robert Rodriguez, El Rey Network’s founder and chairman, said in a statement. “By mentoring artists through ‘The People’s Network,’ I have a chance to give back.”

The cabler’s “Epic Summer Movie” contest kicked off Monday, with a submission deadline of Aug. 9. Rodriguez and his creative team will determine the winning artist, who will be featured in an original vignette both on-air and online, and receive a trip for two to Cancun, Mexico. The contest is sponsored by Corona Extra.

The long-term goal of the People’s Network “is to be able to tap into this emerging talent and bring them onboard and collaborate with us on our original content – content that goes on the air,” said Kurt Volk, El Rey Network’s VP and creative director. “It’s talent development, you could call it that… We want to reach people who aren’t in the middle of Texas.”

El Rey Network, a 24-hour English-language network, is available in about 40 million U.S. pay-TV homes, via distributors including Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable. The net’s programming is anchored by Rodriguez’s original drama, “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,” which will return for a second season this summer 2015; interview program “El Rey Network Presents: The Director’s Chair”; and wrestling series “Lucha Underground” from Mark Burnett.

Austin, Texas-based El Rey Network is jointly owned by Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures, with a minority stake held by Univision Communications.

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