Paul Cotter debuts short at Sundance Fest; “Swingers” producer developing his feature

It was five days before Richard Dresser’s play “Wonderful World” would open at the Athenaeum Theatre, and director Paul Cotter had the day off.

It was Sunday, Aug. 15 and Cotter spent the day shooting the short that would land him in the Sundance Film Festival.

Cotter borrowed a friend’s DV camera and shot five scenes that day, exploring five different uses of the word “God” by five different characters on Estes Avenue, where he was living.

“Two hours for each of the five vignettes would mean a ten hour shooting day,” Cotter said. “That gave me a couple of hours to grab some B-roll, and I knew I would have the film.”

Cotter’s “Estes Avenue” premieres Jan. 24 at Sundance, where it has six scheduled screenings before Noah Baumbach’s Jeff Daniels-Laura Linney ?80s family drama “The Squid and the Whale.”

“Estes Avenue” is one of 82 shorts selected from 3,887 submissions to screen at Sundance.

Paul Cotter

A British native, Cotter splits his time between London and Chicago, where he directs commercials for Z Group Films. He got his MFA in film from Southern Illinois University and worked his way up from camera assistant.

Cotter’s 2002 short “Jeff Farnsworth” sold to HBO last year and has been in regular rotation on the cable channel.

“Farnsworth” also landed Cotter in the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival. His second short, “Last Hand Standing,” advanced him to the final five for a million-dollar production deal with Universal Studios.

Through the Chrysler contest, Cotter wrote the feature script “Caramel,” the story of a woman cop pursuing two escaped mental patients from Oregon to Mexico.

Chrysler Festival founder Doug Liman, who produced “The Bourne Identity” and “Swingers,” has signed as executive producer for “Caramel.” “Doug has excellent judgment on narrative, so I learned a great deal from him,” Cotter said.

Liman is developing “Caramel” with producer Stella Nwimo of Riverchild Films. “?Caramel’ is based in the U.S., but it looks like it’s going to be financed largely through the U.K.,” Cotter said.

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? Ed M. Koziarski,