Koots (United States | 2015, 13 min)

Directed by: Jake Roseman

Jared Kutoroff has been battling the odds his whole life. Regardless of his circumstances he always manages to get through the rough times with an optimistic attitude towards life. There's never a dull moment.


Festival coordinator, Maria Akay, recently spoke with director Jake Roseman and the subject of his short documentary Koots, Jared Kutoroff.

Maria: To the both of you, is it your first film?

Jake: Yeah this is, I’m in a documentary class. This is the first documentary I ever made and this is essentially the first type of film like this that I made, but I’ve made other shorts and a music video but when I made this film, at that point this is the first major thing that I’ve done.

Maria: Ok. And what about you (Jake), were you just up for it?

Jared: Yeah, basically this started as a school project as Jake said and we knew all our friends would love it and we didn’t really know how it would take off beyond that and it’s it really started to take off for us.

Maria: So what do your friends think about it?

Jared: Yeah, they’re pretty fascinated by it

Jake: They’ve all known his story and like, I put it on YouTube and sent it to his sister and she posted it and it spread out.

Maria: What do your dad and other family members think about the film?

Jared: At first my family members were completely against it because there’s a lot going on when it comes to them. However, as time progressed my dad started to get more on board as he sees the bigger picture with this film. He sees that it can go somewhere for us, so he’s starting to get on board a little. And my other family members, my sisters, they have mixed emotions about it but my younger sister, she’s a really big fan also.

Maria: That’s good. So what was the class project about that made you want to film Jared’s life?

Jake: It was an Intro to Documentary class and he’s always been one of my good friends, and I thought his life was like, really interesting and unique and something people haven’t heard, something people haven’t seen, it’s almost like a Forrest Gump type, just a man on a journey. I always thought about doing a story about this when I got into film.

Maria: About Jared’s life?

Jake: Yeah, this was an opportunity to talk about it. I had tons of pictures and tons of video. There’s a lot of old footage and it has a really real feeling to it. You feel like you’re in it, like you’re going along the story with him.

Maria: How long have you guys been friends?

Jake: I’ve known him since 4th grade, when I moved into the town and he was next-door neighbors with one of my other best friends, so through that he became friends with my friend. It’s all a big group of friends.

Jared: We’re all kind of like brothers at this point and we all guide each other.

Maria: Are there more films in progress?

Jake: So based off the story we have, there’s a lot more of the story we didn’t include. My project was a 7-10 minute film and Koots is over 12 minutes. I had to really condense a lot. Our plan right now is to try to expand the story into a feature with professional gear. I know production companies and we’re just really trying to get on the steps of telling the story with professional equipment, I know mine is obviously what a kid did for a college class.

Jake: I just think it’s a story that’s inspiring; it’s extremely unique and different. It’s not a very common documentary. I think it’s something that people will enjoy.

Maria: Is there anything you’re looking forward to at the New York City Independent Film Festival?

Jake: I’m just looking forward to seeing all the great works people have made

Jared: We’re definitely planning on observing other films and trying to learn from them

Jake: We’re here to enjoy the films, try to network, to meet people like us trying to make it in the industry. It’s a lot of great minds coming together.

Maria: I want to talk about Jared’s life, because that’s the whole point of the film. Was it hard for you to talk about your life so openly?

Jared: At first, the whole idea for the project that Jake presented to me was a little hard. However, at that time, I was already moved out of the house and doing my own thing, so I thought this was my one opportunity to get famous. That was always something I wanted in my life. I started opening up more and this is nothing compared to what’s going to be said down the road. It’s not hard at all now. I’ll let it all out if that’s what it’ll take to get big.

Jake: That was the biggest thing was people said, how did you get him to open up about all that stuff? Growing up, there’s lots of stuff going on that is very personal.

Maria: There was a point in the documentary where you switch gears and pick up more responsibilities so you can move back home with your dad, but then you figure out you need to be in your own place. What was that process like, switching mindsets?

Jared: That whole summer when my dad went away was pretty fun, but it was also a crazy experience. There were a couple nights when I slept on the streets. When it came time for my friends to go back to college I knew I had to get back in the house. I didn’t think it was going to work out. I tried my best at home, but it was a very difficult situation.

Maria: Where are you at right now in your life?

Jared: Basically all I care about is this film right now.

Maria: I know you said you had footage in the films. How long did it take to get the footage, and how long did it take to make the film?

Jake: The film was over a semester for class, which was basically just work on the documentary. I made two cuts. I wasn’t working on it the whole, time I had other work too. I had a lot of pictures on my phone—on a flip phone mostly in high school. I got an iPhone at the end of senior year when he got kicked out of his house, and I just started taking thousands of pictures. I went through my Facebook and Instagram and my friends sent me pictures. A lot of class was just going through all the pictures. In terms of editing, I would say about a one- to two-week process.

Maria: Do you have any closing comments?

Jared: A lot of people obviously see my face in this film, but I want to give all the credit to Jake. Without him I wouldn’t be able to do any of this. We’re like brothers, and I want everyone to realize how hard he is working on this project right now.

Jake: This is all him. There’s a million filmmakers out there. But I found a great story. It’s all him being willing to open up and tell me about all this. I couldn’t have done it without him. I want to inspire people that no matter what position you’re in, you’ve just got to keep pushing forward. If you have an optimistic attitude, like Jared, who wasn’t always in the greatest situation, you can get out of it. People of all backgrounds can get through a lot. The inspiration for this was powerful. I just want people who see it to leave the theatre thinking, I could do that. My situation’s not bad.

Koots is an official selection of the 7th Annual NYC Independent Film Festival