USA Character Project

FishDirected by R.J. Cutler

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Fish

About the short

Celebrity chef Jon Shook, best known for his carnivore-pleasing creations at the LA hot spot Animal, has just opened a new restaurant — and this time, the focus is on seafood. Witness the journey from ocean to table as, in the course of one long day, Jon goes fishing off the coast of Southern California with a local fisherman, returns to his new restaurant to craft a dish around his catch of the day, and serves his creation to another packed house at the hottest new restaurant in LA.


About the director

R.J. Cutler is an award-winning filmmaker best known for his movies The September Issue and The War Room and his television series American High and 30 Days. Cutler has won an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, and a GLAAD Award and has been nominated for an Academy Award, a Producer's Guild Award and an Independent Spirit Award, among others. Last year, Cutler received the Television Academy's prestigious Honor Award for his work "creating television with a conscience," and the Museum of Television and Radio held a four-day retrospective in celebration of his work.

Director Statement

Jon Shook is a maestro. With his first restaurant Animal, a carnivore's fantasy where hamburgers are slathered in foie gras, he and his partner Vinnie Dotolo announced themselves as among the most exciting, inventive, and joyful chefs working in the United States today. Food and Wine Magazine soon took notice and featured them in a cover story about America's Best New Chefs. Profiles in publications like The New Yorker followed. As did a James Beard nomination. The two emerged as the driving force behind the exploding Los Angeles food scene.

Recently Jon and Vinnie opened up a second restaurant in LA called Son of a Gun. The new place specializes in seafood, from lobster rolls to albacore tataki, from alligator schnitzel to alaskan halibut. The joint is awesome and has been a sensation since it opened on Oscar Night 2011. Jon and Vinnie chose that night because they wanted to start out quietly and they figured no one in LA goes out when the Academy Awards are on. They were wrong — on night one the place was packed full of friends, fans and foodies and SON OF A GUN instantly became the hottest new restaurant in town.

A few days after opening, I was at Son of a Gun having dinner and Jonny told me he had been thinking about going deep sea fishing and learning more about the kinds of fish that can be caught in the waters surrounding Los Angeles. He figured he now owned a seafood place, he should know more about what's local. Jon told me he wanted to bring his buddy Zach McGowan, a guy who used to work for him but whose acting/voice-over career has started to take off. Zach's a competitor and Jonny thought that bringing him along would up the stakes on the expedition. The idea was that they'd spend the day fishing and then bring what they caught back to Son of a Gun and serve it up as part of that night's menu.

It sounded like a movie to me, and I said so.

Jonny said, "Let's do it."

FISH started out as a cinema verite documentary about the day that Jonny and Zach spent fishing about ten miles out in the Pacific Ocean off the shores of Los Angeles. But it ended up being a movie about creativity, more specifically a movie about the creative process of one of America's great young chefs.

The day after we wrapped shooting on FISH, Jon Shook turned 30 years old. I'm so happy to have made a short film with him on the eve of such a momentous occasion. And I can't help thinking that the real value of this movie will only come to pass in another 30 years — when we look back at the life and career of one of our most treasured chefs and get to see what he was thinking, feeling, cooking when he was just getting started.

Cast Bios

John Shook

Jon Shook Jon Shook, a culinary graduate of the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, is one of the country's most celebrated young chefs. Together with partner Vinny Dotolo, Shook appeared on the Food Network series Two Dudes Catering, and co-authored the cookbook Two Dudes, One Pan. After building their catering company into one of L.A.'s most popular, in 2008 Shook and Dotolo opened Animal, which quickly became one of the most talked-about restaurants in L.A. and garnered the chefs two James Beard nominations and a ranking on Food & Wine's list of the Best New Chefs of 2009. In 2011, Shook and his partner opened their latest venture, Son of a Gun, an L.A. restaurant focusing on local and sustainable seafood.

Film Credits

USA Network Presents

An RSA Films Production

In Association with Actual Reality Pictures

Directed by R.J. Cutler

Produced by R.J. Cutler
Lyle Gamm

Produced by Jules Daly
Tom Dunlap

Executive Producer Mary Lisio

Edited by Greg Finton A.C.E

Director of Photography Jenna Rosher

Sound Recordists Caleb A. Mose Hilary Stewart

Music by Craig Richey

Titles and Graphics Smith Lee Design

Co-Producer Michael Bernstein

Co-Producer Trevor Smith

Associate Producer Jonny Edwards

Additional Photography Jesse Phinney

Assistant Camera Patrick Robinson

Assistant Editor Frankie Peralta

Production Coordinator Amaya Cervino

Production Assistant Steve Robbins

For USA Network Chris McCumber
Alexandra Shapiro
Jason Holzman
Jon Cotton

Special Thanks Shiri Appleby
Jane Cutler
Jeanne Newman
Nate Schreiber

© 2011 RSA Films, Inc. and Actual Reality Pictures, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Extras