Robert Rodriguez honors Bill Paxton at Texas Film Awards

While the Texas Film Awards Thursday night were about celebrating the many accomplishments of the film industry, organizers paused the celebrations to remember two Texas film industry heavyweights that died in the last year: Debbie Reynolds and Bill Paxton.

Bill Paxton, looking concerned, as Fred Haise in “Apollo 13”

Reynolds, an El Paso native, was honored at the start of the ceremony with a “Singin’ in the Rain” tribute performance by Austin musician Suzanna Choffel, and in the middle of the ceremony, Austin director Robert Rodriguez took the stage to honor his friend, Fort Worth actor Bill Paxton, who died in February. The two worked together on Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (Paxton played Dinky Winks, an eccentric theme park owner). Rodriguez paid tribute to the actor upon hearing of his death, saying working with the Texas actor was a highlight of his career.

PHOTOS: Texas Film Awards red carpet

Rodriguez told a story about Paxton, saying that when they started working together, digital cameras were relatively new and he discovered that he could just “let them run” to catch improvised moments on camera, and Rodriguez thought that would be a perfect scenario for Paxton to improvise funny moments — but when the actor showed up on set, he said, “I’m like an old pony. You gotta walk me around. I need rehearsal.”

Rodriguez was surprised, saying, “You’d think he’s making it up as he goes. He worked very hard at making it look effortless and easy. He was a great man, a great actor, a great friend and a great Texan.”

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Paxton was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2007, and the Austin Film Society honored him Thursday night by playing his full acceptance speech for the award, followed by clips from two of his co-stars: Kevin Bacon and Tom Cruise.

Both actors got teary-eyed as they talked about Paxton. Bacon, who worked on “Apollo 13” with Paxton, told a story about a time Paxton took off his oxygen mask while filming the movie and got giddy with laughter. Cruise, who starred in “Edge of Tomorrow” with Paxton, started his tribute with this: “He entertained me.” That’s something many Texans will remember about Paxton.

RELATED: Versatile Texas actor Bill Paxton’s career was all over the place in the best way

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Bill Paxton says he’s no “Super Texan” but he still has state pride


New season of ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ shooting in New Mexico, not Texas

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, for El Rey Network and Miramax. L to R; Briana Evigan as Sonja Lam and D.J. Cotrona as Seth Gecko.
From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, for El Rey Network and Miramax. L to R; Briana Evigan as Sonja Lam and D.J. Cotrona as Seth Gecko.

Central Texas recently got some good news that AMC will start filming the new series based on Philipp Meyer’s “The Son” here this summer. But there’s one troubling development regarding another longtime project that started in Austin.

Robert Rodriguez, who has been shooting his El Rey Network series “From Dusk Till Dawn” at his local Troublemaker Studios, has decided to begin filming season three of the popular show in Albuquerque, N.M.

The new season will have 10 hour-long episodes with a returning cast of D.J. Cotrona, Zane Holtz, Jesse Garcia and Jake Busey.

The new season will follow the travails of the Gecko brothers who have to fight their way through vampire empires in Texas and New Mexico.

Rodriguez has long been a proponent of shooting in Texas, and most of his films have been shot here. But the Texas Legislature has cut funding for the film incentives program overseen by the Texas Film Commission, and New Mexico’s program is more alluring, in financial terms.


Today is ‘From Dusk Till Dawn Day’ in Austin

Happy “From Dusk Till Dawn Day?”

Executive producer Robert Rodriguez speaks onstage during the “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” panel discussion at the El Rey Network portion of the 2015 Summer Television Critics Association Tour in July. FREDERICK M. BROWN / GETTY IMAGES
Executive producer Robert Rodriguez speaks onstage during the “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” panel discussion at the El Rey Network portion of the 2015 Summer Television Critics Association Tour in July. FREDERICK M. BROWN / GETTY IMAGES

That’s right; Mayor Steve Adler met with Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez at Troublemaker Studios on Monday to make the official proclamation: Aug. 25, 2015 is “From Dusk Till Dawn Day.”

In addition to honoring the Austinite and jack of all filmmaking trades, “From Dusk Till Dawn” coincides with the second season premiere of Rodriguez’s television show of the same name.

The show will premiere tonight at 8 p.m. CT on El Rey, a television network based in Austin that Rodriguez launched last year.

“I wouldn’t be nearly as creative if I had to live and work in Los Angeles, because I’m from here and my roots are here. It’s where you’re the most inspired. It’s why I wanted to create my business at home even though it was kind of unheard of back then,” Rodriguez told Time Warner Cable News yesterday at Troublemaker Studios.

The television series, which Rodriguez recently discussed with Austin360 columnist Dale Roe, is originally inspired by Rodriguez’ 1996 cult classic, considered a breakout film for both him and Quentin Tarantino, who starred in and co-wrote the film.

If you haven’t seen it, that would be a good place to start if you’re going to celebrate “From Dusk Till Dawn Day” today.

More “From Dusk Till Dawn” and Robert Rodriguez news:

• Demi Lovato’s ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ character was written for her

• New season of Robert Rodriguez’s dark ‘Dusk’ takes wing

Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez to make another film for $7,000


Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez to make another film for $7,000

Robert Rodriguez sat down with the nerds behind the Nerdist Podcast this week to discuss the upcoming premiere of season two of “From Dusk Till Dawn.”

Texas Film Awards Honoree Robert Rodriguez walks the red carpet held at Austin Studios on March 12, 2015. Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro
Texas Film Awards Honoree Robert Rodriguez walks the red carpet held at Austin Studios on March 12, 2015. Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro

The Austin filmmaker also announced that to mark the 25th anniversary of “El Mariachi,” which he has repeatedly credited as the film that first got him noticed, he will be making another film with the same budget as that film: $7,000.

“El Mariachi,” which Rodriguez made in 1992, won the then little-known filmmaker a two-year deal with Columbia Pictures and an audience prize at Sundance.

“I’ll have no crew; I’ll just use friends — I’ve got some pretty cool friends I can put in front of the camera — but still no crew, no money,” said Rodriguez, who has more than enough “cool friends” (George Clooney, Selma Hayek, Quentin Tarantino just to name a few).

The filmmaker also said the he will have a documentary crew to chronicle the process and show how to make a $7,000 film in 2015.

“When I made ‘Mariachi’ out of my apartment and sold it, I wanted to go tell everybody that it was possible because I would have wanted to know that,” Rodriguez said during the podcast interview.

“I know how many other people thought the same thing: ‘Oh I’m very creative and I have a talent for this sort of thing — but I don’t live in the right city, that I don’t know the right people — so I shouldn’t even dream about that.”

Rodriguez, hailed by Nerdist as being one of the “brightest, shiniest examples of a creator,” is known for making it on his own as a do-everything-yourself filmmaker.

The Austin director expressed gratitude to fellow filmmaker George Lucas (heard of him?) for telling him to “stay in Austin” and pursue film making outside of Hollywood.

Rodriguez also told Nerdist that his Austin-based television network, El Rey, is the “most gratifying thing” in his career so far because of how it shines a light on up-and-coming, out-of-the-Hollywood-box filmmakers.

For more from Rodriguez, look in Sunday’s paper for Austin360’s Dale Roe’s interview with the filmmaker on season two of El Rey’s “From Dusk Till Dawn.”

Robert Rodriguez hired for live-action “Jonny Quest”

Deadline reported Tuesday that Austin director Robert Rodriguez has been tapped by Warner Bros to direct a live action version of the animated classic “Jonny Quest.” Rodriguez and Terry Rossio are working on a script from a draft by Dan Mazeau.

The latter wrote “Wrath of the Titans” (ouch). Rossio wrote the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies (better…) and “the Lone Ranger’ (oof).

320px-Jonny-quest-logoFor those who have no idea who the subject is, “Jonny Quest” was a 1964 cartoon created by comic book artist Doug Wildey.

Prior to “Jonny,” Wildey was best known for gorgeous comic book art in the Western/cowboy genre. But “Jonny” changed everything.

Known for fluid animation, cutting-edge design and generally being pretty awesome, “Jonny Quest” concerned young Jonny, who young adventurer who traveled with world with his scientist dad, Dr. Benton Quest, his bodyguard Race Bannon and Jonny’s young friend Hadji (the latter of whom was a pretty sketchy ethnic stereotype, turban and all).

While lasting only 26 episodes, the show is a cult property that has become both nerd culture staple and scenario ripe for parody.

(Jonny was the focus of a custody battle on an episode of the Adult Swim cartoon “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law;” another Adult Swim cartoon, “The Venture Brothers,” started as a take-off on “Jonny Quest.”)

There have been a couple of runs at making a live-action version of the thing; we’ll see how this goes.

Robert Rodriguez wants to make a live action “Fire and Ice”

Remember “Fire and Ice,” the 1983 animated fantasy film that combined the talents of animator Ralph “the animated 1977 ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie” Bakshi and Frank Frazetta, the most awesome artist of heroic fantasy and science fiction who ever lived?

Yay, Frank!
A poster for the 1983 film “Fire and Ice”

It’s cool if you don’t. Even with the Conan-mania it was playing off of, “Fire and Ice” tanked at the box office, grossing less than $1 million, and remains a cult film at best.

It had an interesting pedigree though, with a screenplay by former “Conan” comic book writers Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas. It also used a lot of rotoscoping (which involves tracing live-action performances onto animation cels and gave the film a very specific, surreally fluid look).

Robert Rodriguez has been interested in the property for years and has teamed up with Bold Films and Sony to keep developing a live-action version, has reported. Rodriguez is a longtime friend and fan of the late Frazetta. If successful, it’s exactly the sort of film that could launch a new fantasy franchise.

In other Rodriguez news, the El Rey series “The Matador,” produced by University of Texas graduate Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, has been canceled after one season; “From Dusk Till Dawn” is working on its second; and “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is now on Blu-ray and DVD after grossing a let’s-call-it-modest $39 million worldwide.