ED– We are interviewing Russ Cootey, a renowned Hollywood actor, writer, director, and producer who has appeared in and worked with many of the popular television shows being aired today.
ED– Russ, it is an honor to introduce you to our readers. Your work with such shows as CSI, and West Wing is well known. Tell us something about yourself and how you came to be in this business.
RC– Thank YOU, I am honored. Well, the story is somewhat of a full circle kind of story. When I was a kid I was hook into wanting to be an actor and to make films. My mom worked at Universal Studios, and I was hooked when I had the opportunity to visit different t.v. show and movie sets. I knew that cinema was what I wanted to do.
At the same time, I was taking guitar lessons, and as I started to progress in my skill as a guitar player, I started to see some immediate gratification. I realized that “Chicks Dig Guitar Players”(laughs), and decided to pursue music as a career. I actually spent several years in the music industry on a professional level before I decided to enter the coporate world. This career took me to the Nothwest, and after a few years I realized that I was not a corporate guy and I had to get back to being an artist. I had been wanting to persue acting again for awhile at that point and jumped at the chance to audition for projects that were shooting in and around the Portland Oregon area.
After a couple years working as an actor in Portland and in Seattle I decided to come back to Los Angeles, and the rest is, as they say, history.
ED– We understand that not only acting, but producing, directing, and writing are some of the hats you have worn in your career. Please tell us about these aspects of your life.
RC– Of course I had always wanted to act, but after some time with countless auditions and rejections, and trying to find the right project that would take off, I thought that the only way to play the roles I really wanted to was to create them myself. I started getting together with others that wanted to do the same thing, and just began to write. When I had some scripts done, I started getting together with other filmmakers who wanted to get some projects done in the same way that I did.
ED– We also know that film ‘Packaging’ is a part of your venue. Tell our readers what that is, and what it entails.
RC– There can be many variables in film ‘packaging’. What I usually do as a producer and film packager is choose 3 to 5 films that I am developing and pitch these films to investors as a ‘Package’. This is sort of a ‘Hedge’ and gives an investor a better chance of success rather than putting all eggs into one basket.
ED– We’d also like you to share some of the experienced as producer on such films as ‘Twelve City Blocks’ and ‘Walk with Me’. Please tell our readers about these hits and the part you have played in their success.
RC– Ahhh. These are both interesting projects for different reasons. ‘Walk with Me’ is a documentary that chronicles a 2 week period where I walked across the state of Oregon starting at the California state line and ending at the Washington state line. This was a charity fundraiser that I had done for an organization that would bring stories to life for kids. We would perform live ‘Theater in the Round’ in schools, and would always involve the kids in the performances. The mission was to encourage kids to read and to get involved in the arts. The film followed my trek across Oregon up Interstate 5 and camping out along the way. During this time I had encountered a lot of interesting people and situations, as well as testing myself physically and personally.
‘Twelve City Blocks’ was one of the first things that I did when I decided to set off on my own as a producer and a writer. This film was actually when I decided to shave my head for the lead role of Richard Gibson and focus on the more ‘Edgy’ characters.
ED– What other plans do you have for the future of cinema and television?
RC– Currently I’m working on a web series called ‘THE RESOLVE’ which I’m Directing, Producing, and Co Writing. This is a Psychological Thriller/Drama which I also play the lead role of Mike Patterson who has just decided to become a serial killer to relieve stress in his own life. With this, he opens up to his therapist, detailing the accounts of his endeavors. This is a project that I’m most proud of because not only do I get to play a great role, but I’m working with an incredibly talented cast as an actor and director. This show has a lot of layers through some very complex characters. It’s dark and creepy, and is steeped in contrast between the ‘Real’ and the ‘Surreal’.
We are holding a red carpet premier for the series in February 2010, and releasing the episodes online in March 2010.
ED– Russ, we have been privileged to have had this interview with you. Our readers will certainly enjoy knowing about the man behind many of the popular TV series today. It has been a privilege and an honor, I assure you. I hope that you can keep us updated of news on all your projects so that we can keep the readers of The Eerie Digest well informed in the future.