James Cotten

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James Cotten
Born (1974-02-12) February 12, 1974 (age 42)
Fort Smith, Arkansas, United States
Occupation Actor, Film director, Film producer, Writer

James Cotten (born February 12, 1974) is an American actor, film director, producer, and writer.

Early life[edit]

Cotten was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas.[1] Following his 8th grade year in Arkansas, his parents moved to Sallisaw, Oklahoma where they owned a movie rental store. James, known as "Jay" or "JJ" to his friends, quickly became known as a novice movie director making films for classes in high school.

After high school, while attending college, James worked at a local television station in Fort Smith, Arkansas. While doing a story about a feature film being shot in the area, he was cast in a small role. The film was The Tuskegee Airmen (1995).

With the acting bug, James continued to get his degree and went on a small trip to try his craft in Los Angeles. There he had many stand in roles in movies such as How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998),[2] and on an episode of Frasier.

Film career[edit]

James first studied film making at the London International Film School, in London, England. There, he made his first short film, Lifeless.

He finished film school at The Los Angeles Film School in 2002. Cotten studied cinematography with many working professionals: Rex Metz (SWAT, I Spy), Dave Klein (Chasing Amy, Clerks II), and Michael Barrett (CSI, Bobby, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). He studied Production Design with Lawrence Paull (Blade Runner, Escape from L.A., Unlawful Entry) and Direction with Paul Verhoven (RoboCop, Starship Troopers), Donald Petrie (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Miss Congeniality), Danielle Suissa (Pocahontas, Neowolf), and Brad Battersby (Red Letters, Jesus the Driver).[3]

Shortly after graduating from the L.A. Film School, Cotten directed a Roger Corman film called Demon Slayer. With that experience, Cotten worked on other movies and set out to make his own movies.[4] The movie was released direct to DVD in 2003.[5] It currently appears on the Sci-Fi Channel.

After completion of Demon Slayer, James returned to Van Buren, Arkansas and formed Dark Highway Films, an independent film company that produced its first direct to video release in 2007.

Sugar Creek is a low-budget film that is part fairy tale/morality tale and part horror/Western. The story of Adam, as he is hunted by a mysterious Horseman through a valley where men do hateful things because they have had hateful things done to them, is the story of revenge and redemption, and the irony in between.[6] Sugar Creek was nominated at the Bare Bones International Film Festival for Best Drama/Thriller, and best in state at the Little Rock Film Festival. Its direct to DVD release was on July 24, 2007.

While funds were raised for Sugar Creek, James was cast in an acting role opposite Ashley Judd in Joey Lauren Adams' Come Early Morning, playing a past one night stand named Steve.

In 2008, James directed the film La Linea (The Line). The story centers around veteran assassin Mark Shields (Ray Liotta) as he tracks down, Pelon (Esai Morales), the elusive head of the Salazar Crime Cartel. Through twists of fate, Shields ends up with a local woman, Olivia (Valerie Cruz) who is also fighting her own demons for the sake of her daughter. Set in the rich and atmospheric backdrop of Tijuana, Mexico, La Linea (The Line) is full of action, drama and finds its soul in the plight of the characters that inhabit the most dangerous city in North America. The film also stars Andy García as the dying Godfather of the cartel, Salazar.

La Linea premiered at the American Film Market in 2008, where it was touted by The Hollywood Reporter as one of six films to watch. The film had limited theatrical release in July 2009, as part of a Latino Film Series sponsored by Blockbuster, followed by a Blockbuster exclusive release at the end of August.

James also wrote and produced another film in Arkansas, Resurrection County. The film is a neo-gothic horror about two couples who accidentally get off the trail in the wrong part of Arkansas and anger the wrong people. The story is loosely based on an actual encounter James had with a group of anti-government, semi-militia living just outside his hometown of Sallisaw. Resurrection County has played through 2008–2009 in numerous festivals across the country.

In 2011, James was an executive producer on horror films, The Devil's Carnival,[1] and Madison County,[1] as well as acting in the latter.

In 2012, James produced the horror/comedy film, Hansel & Gretel Get Baked.[7]

Cotten will be directing the horror film Savage, based on the comic books from Image Comics.[8]


  1. ^ a b c [1] – James Cotten, IMDb
  2. ^ [2] – How Stella Got Her Groove Back, 1998 IMDb.
  3. ^ [3] – "Film making is sweet for James Cotten", The Los Angeles Film School
  4. ^ [4] – "Sallisaw's James 'Jay' Cotten Achieves His Movie-making Dream", Sequoyah County Times, August 18, 2006
  5. ^ [5] – Demon Slayer, IMDb.
  6. ^ [6] – www.sugarcreekthemovie.com
  7. ^ [7] – Hansel & Gretel Get Baked, IMDb
  8. ^ Bigfoot vs. Werewolves Movie in Works as ‘Twilight’ Producer Acquires Graphic Novel ‘Savage’ (Exclusive)