R.J. Cutler

R.J. Cutler

A major force in the world of documentaries, R.J. Cutler began directing theater before capturing real life drama in a series of acclaimed films. Cutler grew up in Great Neck, New York, and graduated from Harvard in 1984. When the New York Drama League Director Apprenticeship Program launched, Cutler was the first director onboard for it. He worked in American Repertory Theater and was an assistant on Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" when it debuted on Broadway in 1986. Among the plays Cutler directed were "Right Behind the Flag" (1988) with Kevin Spacey, "Emerald City" (1987), and "The Secret Garden" (1991). Cutler moved into producing and directing documentaries in the early '90s with "The War Room" (1993), which took the world behind the scenes of the Bill Clinton Presidential campaign. Produced by Cutler, and directed by documentary masters DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, "The War Room" received great acclaim, and led to a sequel, "The Return of the War Room" (2008) in which Cutler and company looked back on the experience. Next came "A Perfect Candidate" (1996), which was about Iran-Contra central figure Oliver North running for Senate. Cutler also produced the documentary series, "American High" (Fox 2000), which followed teenagers in a Northwest high school. While the show got high marks from the critics, the ratings were lackluster, and the show was cancelled by Fox after four episodes. It was subsequently rescued by PBS, and "American High" won the first Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program. Then Cutler went up to the next academic level with "Freshman Diaries" (Showtime, 2003). Moving on to different subjects, Cutler returned with "The Residents" (Discovery Health Channel, 2003), about young doctors at UCLA Medical Center. Cutler also tackled a wide variety of scenarios with "30 Days" (FX, 2005-08), where host Morgan Spurlock was filmed in different environments for a month at a time. Cutler's producing credits include "Shays' Rebellion: America's First Civil War" (2005), the word-of-mouth hit "The September Issue" (2009), about legendary Vogue editor Anna Wintour, "Thin" (2006), which dealt with eating disorders, and "Hick Town" (2009), about John Hickenlooper, who went on to become the governor of Colorado. Cutler struck a deal with Showtime in 2012 to make documentaries, and he went back into the political arena with "The World According to Dick Cheney" (2013). Cutler would launched his own company, Actual Reality Pictures, which created such shows as "Military Diaries" (VH-1, 2002) and "Flip That House" (TLC, 2005-2008), among others. Moving into the realm of features, Cutler directed the horror film "If I Stay" (2014), starring Chloë Grace Moretz about a girl in a coma hovering between the world of the living and the dead. He also executive produced the hit drama "Nashville" (ABC 2012-).