Profile: RJ Cutler
All you need to know about the director of The September Issue.
Name RJ Cutler
Born 1962, USA
Background Cutler graduated from Harvard in 1983. He has a producing credit on The War Room (1993), a landmark documentary that follows Clinton’s 1992 US presidential campaign through his notorious spin doctors James Carville and George Stephanopoulos. He also has director and producing credits on A Perfect Candidate (1996) which follows Oliver North’s unsuccessful 1994 bid for a Virginia Senate seat. Since then he has been mostly earning his keep as executive producer on copious amounts of Hollywood reality TV shows Great American Dog and Flip that House.
What’s he up to now? After reading a magazine article about American Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, he decided to approach her to make a fly-on-the-wall documentary. Within weeks he was through to the magazine’s creative inner circle, had a meeting set up and the project was green lit. The idea to structure the film around the making of the magazine’s September issue (the biggest single issue of Vogue ever) came from Wintour. They filmed over a nine-month period. There were no ‘off-limits’ questions; Cutler only requested only one interview with Wintour and the director had final cut.
On pitching to Wintour ‘I said to her I am curious about how you do what you do. I don’t have an agenda, I don’t have any preconceptions and I just want to watch. My team is very low key, we don’t use lights or cables or big equipment. Our objective is to impact the environment we are in as minimally as possible. If we are filming you and you want us to stop we will, if we film something that makes you uncomfortable and you tell us about it we won’t use it in the film. The story belongs to you, it doesn’t belong to us, and we hope that after you get to know us you’ll be comfortable enough sharing it with us and to let us make the film.’
Interesting fact Cutler hates doing formal interviews and if he has to do it, he leaves it right until the end of the filmmaking process.
The September Issue is on selected release from Fri 11 Sep.