Domestic violence theme of Oklahoma movie

Director and production designer from county

Sallisaw native James (Jay if you knew him in high school) Cotten now lives in Los Angeles, but still loves making movies in Oklahoma.

Cotten, a 1992 graduate of Sallisaw High School, served as a writer, the director and a producer on his latest movie, Painted Woman.

“Don’t let anyone decide who you are…” is the tag line for Painted Woman. Set in the old west, the movie follows the life of an abused woman and her effort to escape a terrible situation.

Painted Woman, based on the western novel, “The Mustanger and the Lady,” written by Dusty Richards, is about “a young woman with a dark past finds wisdom and her identity in the romance of the old west,” according to Amber Lindley, who co-wrote the screenplay with Cotten.

“It’s the fourth movie that I’ve written that has been made,” Cotten said.

“Painted Woman is about women who are in a life of abuse and how they get out of it,” Cotten said.

The movie opens Friday at the Poteau Theatre and will show from Nov. 10 to 16.

“I wanted to find a theater close to home,” Cotten said.

Cotten said it will likely also play in Fort Smith, Oklahoma City and Fayetteville.

He said the Oklahoma film tax credit did play a role in deciding to make the movie in Oklahoma.

“We have to consider tax incentives on a low budget film,” Cotten said. “We brought in five actors, two producers and myself from out of state,” Cotten said. “All the rest were Oklahomans, from the crew to the other actors.”

Cotten, who attended college in the Oklahoma City area, knew where he could find the old west settings he needed for the movie.

“I’ve wanted to film a movie in Oklahoma for a long time, so it was easy to talk our producers into filming in Oklahoma because of the credit and we knew a lot of the locations.”

Cotten wasn’t the only Sequoyah County native working on the film.

“Brent David Cottrell-Mannon from Gore was the production designer,” Cotten said. “It was really cool to have someone so close to home on the project.” Cottrell-Mannon has 32 art department movie credits, 11 set decorator credits, three production designer credits and one art director credit, according to

Cotten was hired on the project in 2016 and the movie was shot about a year ago. It was shot in 14 days, about half the time most movies are made in, he said.

The movie was finished in May and has won nine awards at three film festivals so far.

Most of the awards were won at The Wild Bunch Film Festival in Tucson, Arizona. The festival was Oct. 21 and 22 and is “solely for the western genres and subgenres,” according to the festival website.

The movie is set for a February 6, 2018, DVD release and theatrical release is 90 days before that, Cotten said.

Cotten has been in the movie industry for 20 years and has written four movies, directed four movies, acted in five and worked in other capacities in over 20 other movies, according to

Cotten said he is attached to a biopic of Albert Einstein that will be filmed in Europe. He is also working on a thriller set during a solar flare and another movie about an alien invasion in an Oklahoma backyard.

As for what’s Cotten's next project, he said it’s “what gets funded.” “I go with the flow and see which one springs up,” he said.

Cotten will be appearing at the showing in Poteau.

Sequoyah County Times

111 N. Oak
Sallisaw OK 74955