At the beginning of the year, Russell was thrilled to be hired on as an actor and facilitator for a company called Pure Praxis. The mission of the company is to educate specific groups on social issues through the Brazilian technique of Theater of the Oppressed. The primary contract is with the Department of Navy, conducting sexual assault and retaliation prevention training for US Sailors and Marines around the world. Russell has been thrilled and blessed to be able to contribute to the conversation surrounding the epidemic of sexual assault and to be able to travel with a passionate group of actors/activists in doing so. The work has brought him to bases in Japan, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, New Jersey, Connecticut, Iowa, Virginia, and wrapping up the year in Rhode Island, South Carolina and Spain. Another incredible perk has been getting to put a face to the amazing service men and women of our country. More on Pure Praxis at www.purepraxis.com
In a fortunately busy March, Russell booked another commercial; this time for Bioterra Herbs with the production company, Third House Productions. Russell played a happily energetic man who has been using Bioterra's natural energy supplements. For the shoot, he was flown out to Phoenix in a whirlwind one-day turnaround. He learned a great deal working with his co-star and the gracious directors and crew. The spot should be airing on TV and web as well as a radio run in the coming months.
Russell was recently able to put his musical training to use in his film work being cast as the sexually confused front man of a 1970s rock band. The short film is titled "He and Rock and Role" and will be shooting over the next couple of months. Russell's very excited to get back to singing and some really challenging themes explored in the film. It will be director Zhou "Sherry" Yilei's thesis project at the Art Center for Design in Pasadena.
After a fun improv-filled auditioning process in LA, Russell was offered the leading role in a commercial for Coast Hills Credit Union. It was a blast being back on a commercial set and he got to work with many fun setups including working on a 50s Ford Mustang and improvising desperate interactions with the cute girl at the auto-store while trying to restore an old car for my "grandma." The whole crew was a real pleasure to work with and it was great to take mental notes on the workings of cinematography on a professional set.
This month, Russell Ewing and Jack Mikesell's theater company, Youngest Brother, had an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign for their founding documentary and live show project of Sam Shepard's True West. Their goal was to raise $10,000 in donations and were blown away by the support of family and friends with a whopping end result of $12,000. They are over-joyed and ready to put that money to good use and make their artistic vision a reality. Stay tuned for the opportunities to see the show in Los Angeles.
Exactly a year ago, Russell graduated from UC San Diego in beautiful La Jolla surrounded by his loving friends and family. Today, he can proudly call the same friends and family and inform them that he just signed with Annette Robinson, the theatrical agent at Artistic Talent LA. Russell signed a Film and TV contract with them and is immensely excited for the opportunities it will bring. Cheers!
The vehicular thriller Russell starred in back in October has finally released and was very well received at the LMU thesis screening this weekend. Looking back with great nostalgia on the many successive night shoots and styrofoam cups of coffee on location, Russell was very proud of how the work turned out and is excited to collaborate with the team in future productions. After further editing, the short film intends to make the festival rounds both in the states and abroad in the coming months.
Aching to get back in touch with his theater roots, Russell joined up with a long-time friend and collaborator from UCSD, Jack Mikesell, to produce a passion project of Sam Shepard's True West. Russell and Jack's long history onstage together includes 5 full productions at UCSD/La Jolla Playhouse and will add to the familiarity required for such an edgy, unhinged piece about two brothers. Russell will be playing the stray dog older brother, Lee, returning from the desert to wreak havoc on his up and coming screenwriter brother, Austin (Played by Jack). Russell has the privilege to be working with his mentor, Kim Rubinstein, who will be directing the piece. The course of the project includes fundraising through the summer, a ten day full immersion rehearsal process in the desert in August and a rehearsal period at the site specific location in Echo Park in September. Shows will run from mid September through October. Stay tuned for more details about what's sure to be a unique production of a classic Shepard play.
Russell has been spending the past month writing and developing a potentially long-running web series that features an immensely talented cast of actors he's met throughout his training in Los Angeles. It is a mystery-thriller starring Sam C. Martin, Annelise Shafer, Alexander Karavay, Andrew Johnsen and Russell himself. He is getting a stellar crew together from directors he's been working with in the past couple of months and shooting begins in mid December. SAG/AFTRA has green-lit the project under the New Media terms which means once processing is complete, Russell will be SAG eligible by the new year... just in time for pilot season.... The project is currently titled "Midnight Awake" and will be premiering at the beginning of the new year. Keep an eye out for it!
Russell just landed a great comedic role playing an older brother with a troubled past coming back to town to convince his younger bro to join in on a "fool-proof" heist he has planned. Being a silver-tongued genius in the eyes of the younger brother, they carry it out with not so ideal results. The film shoots Thanksgiving Weekend and will premiere at the Warner Brothers screening room in February as part of a NYFA thesis independent festival.
Russell had the unbelievable opportunity to work with the powerhouse writer/director David Mamet earlier this month. Due to the success of a USC graduate film Russell completed last month, he was requested to come in to rehearse a new scene from Good Will Hunting and perform it for David Mamet in an in-class workshop for the MFA directors. Only two scenes were brought in to work with Mr. Mamet and it was an incredible learning experience for all. Russell arrived early with his scene partner Mike Romo to meet with Mamet one on one before the days' work and then had a long and successful director/actor session in front of the guests. His direct, no-bullshit demeanor, his passion and conviction for the craft, and his genuine care for the young artists in the room was very inspiring. Mr. Mamet was highly complementary of Russell and Mike, which instantly became the highlight of Russell's year. Russell is so very grateful to have been able to learn from Mr. Mamet and is intent on taking that fire with him on his career journey. It is too bizarre to think that not too long ago Russell was studying a unit on Mamet's plays in the classroom setting.
Russell just wrapped an exhausting and enormously rewarding series of night shoots for the upcoming independent Short Film thriller, Share the Road, with writer/director Marco Cervante. He plays the role of Jason, a young husband trying to let loose on the way back from an anniversary dinner with his wife, Stacy (played by Rachel Bahman). Trying to ignite some romance while she is driving, a quarrel ensues that leads to the accidental murder of a bicyclist on a night ride. The arduous on-location night shoots were a phenomenal experience and he was honored to work with his talented co-star, immensely talented director and loving crew. The film is set to be released sometime in May 2014.
Russell spent mid November on the set of the new independent short film by Chinese director, Cheng Gong. The film, currently entitled Seven Karat , is a dark comedy about a failed writer (played by Russell Ewing) attempting to drunkenly end his life on a roof top in downtown LA. He is intervened by a jewel thief on the run (played by Eric Henry) who is seeking refuge on the same roof. A comedic debacle ensues when the thief convinces the writer to die pretending to be the thief in a hostage situation so that nobody has to go to jail and so the writer's work will become infamous in death. Russell had a rewarding experience on location in downtown LA working with a driven and talented crew. The film is being screened in mid December at Warner Brothers through the Thesis Screening Festival with NYFA.
Russell had a killer start to October booking a lead guest star role on Discovery Channel's popular true crime series, Unusual Suspects. He played the real life suspected accomplice to the Amy Weidner murders, Trevor Jasper (altered name). He thoroughly enjoyed his experience on set that week and had the pleasure of working with great artists: Robert M. Wise (Director), Cerise Fukuji (Producer), and Kelli Lerner (Casting Director). Most of all, he found it very rewarding albeit disturbing being able to bring attention to this tragic real-life case.
Russell had the pleasure and privilege to study under the extremely talented and driven Brad Fleischer that recently ended his Broadway run as a lead in Golden Boy . Brad is a fellow alum from Russell's Alma Mater, UCSD although Brad graduated from the MFA program several years before Russell attended the undergraduate program. The one week intensive was incredible eye opening for Russell as he hits the ground running in LA as Brad drove home the credo of training towards your career as an athlete trains for the Olympics. He got to watch some heavy hitting fellow students and had a blast taking on the challenge of True West , tackling the character of Austin in only a week. Russell is excited to keep working every day and carrying forth the fight to the next project or class.
Russell is proud to announce that he has recently wrapped shooting a big commercial/PSA for AMTRAK. He played an adventurous but none-too-bright high school senior who walks to school along the train tracks blasting music through his headphones... Needless to say when the train came along the bend, his lack of diligence ended in tragedy.
He had an amazing time working with a talented and big budget crew shooting on the Red Camera with the friendly and talented director, Mike Miller. The commercial and its accompanying print campaign will be surfacing sometime in the next few months with the California market.
Russell spent this July in total artistic immersion at the Steppenwolf Summer Intensive hosted in Monterey this year in conjunction with CSU Summer Arts. The program featured an all-consuming schedule of 14 hour days, 7 days a week for 4 weeks that consisted of yoga and Fitz-Morris physical training with Evelyn Case and Melita Sagar, long blocks of viewpoints training with Kim Rubinstein and Alexandra Billings, an intensive course in Meisner with Monica Payne, a no bull-shit improv class with Dave Razowsky and a process class with Steppenwolf Co-Founder, Jeff Perry.
The intensive fostered the Steppenwolf ideals of theatrical spirituality, working with ensemble focus, and accessing the full nature of the human condition and channeling that power through the raw and wild work of Sam Shepard. Throughout the month and in the culminating public performance at the CSU Monterey Campus, Russell played the Sam Shepard inspired wild man/coyote named Slim in Cowboy Mouth .
His month with his now life-long friends and mentors was the best experience of his life and the discipline, drive, hyper-awareness and love that the program nurtured in him are invaluable as he heads into his professional screen and stage career in Los Angeles.
Russell graduated from his undergraduate acting program at UC San Diego after spending thousands of hours in the rehearsal rooms and stages of the La Jolla Playhouse. In his time there he acted in 7 department shows, 5 of which were large roles in the MFA productions, and 3 of which were originated roles in the new play festivals. He is proud to have received such a world-class training from the faculty and fellow artists there and is proud to have received the honor of the Milton H. Saier Memorial Award recognizing his excellence in performance. The academic rigor of UC San Diego allowed Russell to study his other interests of psychology and writing and graduated with Magna Cum Laude Honors. He would like to thank his mentor Kim Rubinstein and all of his treasured acting faculty including: Gregory Wallace, Kyle Donnelly, Jim Winker, Ursula Myers, Eva Barnes, and Linda Vickerman.