WFAA's Gary Cogill Got Tired of Watching Movies. And So He's Off to Make Them.

I've known Gary Cogill a long time, and despite what Zac says, he's a good guy, a thoughtful critic and a pretty good cook who, back when the Lakewood Theater fed the homeless at Christmas, could be found in the kitchen lending a very helping hand. I've also been aware of Cogill's desire to do something other than talk about movies for a long while -- maybe you saw a few months back that he's cooking up this Dinner doc. Which isn't why he told WFAA-Channel 8 higher-ups last Friday that he's out at the end of October, thus severing a 24-year relationship.

That documentary, Cogill says, is "minor compared to what's really going on" -- which is, he tells Unfair Park, a film production company he's starting with Richard Toussaint and another partner. Says Cogill, Toussaint's been on him for the last five years about quitting his critic gig and making movies. And for years, the Channel 8 critic blew him off. "I'd tell him, 'Have another glass of wine,'" Cogill says. And then, 18 months ago, Cogill decided to give it a go.

"I decided not to think about it as a joke but as something serious, because you and I see movies, and we always go, 'Can you believe this?'" he says. "And what I wanna do the second half of my life is make movies. I've had a cool career the first half, but I wanna take some risks and find out what I am made of and have a little courage to do the things I talk about other people doing all the time, and that's it."

And so, three months ago, they incorporated their new company, Lascaux Films, so named for the caves in France. Funny thing: The offices won't open till November, but when they do they'll be located on the second floor of Victory Park. Which means Cogill will be a few feet away from the WFAA studios. "That," he says, "makes me laugh."

At present, Cogill and his partners have three films taking shape he says -- "all small, all documentaries," he says, though he doesn't want to mention what any of them are at present. But ultimately, he says, the goal is to start making features -- eventually, he says, ones with a "$3 million to $9 million budget."

Cogill doesn't expect he'll direct the first few offerings; he is, he reminds, the managing partner, and he'll produce. In other words, the partners are the money men; Cogill's on the "creative side."

I asked him: Did the move to arts coverage almost two years ago hasten his departure? Quite the opposite, he says.

"I'll be honest, that's been a blessing," he says. "I am a little frustrated with movies because they haven't been good in the last few years. I love what I do -- it's the best job in the world -- but the arts coverage has made me fall in love with classical music. I think Jaap van Sweden and Dallas Symphony Orchestra in all-new territory. And to be honest, I felt like I was being rescued from Good Morning Texas. The difference between GMT and the 10 p.m. newscast is enormous."

And so he's out in October -- done with TV, finished with press screenings, that's a wrap. At which point the offices open and it's back to work on the other side of the camera.

"I still have three months more work to do, and I am overwhelmed," he says. "But our goal is to do projects we love and mean something to us -- and, eventually, turn a profit."

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