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DOC Specialist Shines on Big Screen

December 04, 2015

By Rachel Friederich

DOC Communications Department of Corrections

movie scene with Rob and his brother as soldiers on a movie set

A movie scene with Rob and his brother as soldiers on a movie set.

OLYMPIA – One of Rob Colley’s earliest memories as a child is running across wooden two-by-fours that his brother covered with dirt so that the action of stepping on them would make dirt fly in the air “like we were being chased by gunfire.”

Colley and his older brother, Eric, often filmed skits and shows when they were younger. Eric later pursued a career in film by becoming a director and starting an independent film company, Fireshoe Productions, in Fircrest.

Rob, 39, took a different path and chose a career with the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC), but has kept a foot in the door when it comes to film by occasionally working with his brother on projects in his spare time. That’s led him to help edit scripts, write and record songs featured in his brother’s films and even have a few cameo appearances.

Though his brother made film his lifelong passion, Rob enjoys being involved in film because of the creative outlet it provides.

“I definitely love being able to make music for Eric’s movies,” Rob said. “I’m really lucky to have this unique opportunity and a brother who’s loyal enough to give my songs a shot at making the cut.”

Rob’s dream took him down a different path. He wanted to become a pro baseball player. While playing baseball at Lower Columbia College, he became the first collegiate player in Washington since 1983 to hit a .500 batting average for an entire season. His accomplishments helped him earn a baseball scholarship at Oregon State University. However, a hand injury cut his plan of becoming a professional athlete short, so he turned to DOC as a career path.

From Acting to Corrections

Rob started his state career with the Department of Health and Social Services (DSHS) as a residential counselor within its Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration in 2001. By 2008, he had become a counselor at Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. In 2012, he began working inside the DOC’s classification unit. He’s currently working with the Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP), where he’s taken an active role in helping to improve it.

He was recently part of a “Lean Value Stream Mapping Process,” that focused on getting sex offenders into treatment so it coincides with their earned release dates.

“Offenders will have a better chance at success in the community if they complete treatment,” he said. “Our aim is to ensure we’re treating those with the highest risk to community safety, and getting them started in a timely manner. It's a benefit for all of us to get them out on time.”

Rob said he’s become more interested in professionally advancing at the DOC the longer he works here.

“There are so many opportunities within the DOC, and I like the direction the department is heading,” he said.

Rob still helps his brother with film projects from time to time. In addition to the roles in “The Last Rescue” and “Last Seen in Idaho,” Rob played a dead body in a meat locker in “Mistaken” and appeared in a local commercial for Tapco Credit Union.

He’s also written and recorded several songs that have been featured in his brother’s films. Two of his songs are featured in the film, “GPS: The Movie.” His song “Dreamscape ” can be heard during the end credits of “The Last Rescue” and he’s currently writing songs to record for his brother’s newest film, “Last Seen in Idaho,” set to be released in 2016.

Rob sings and plays guitar, and has been in a few garage bands since high school. He’s continued his musical hobby into adulthood.

Composing a song for a movie requires a balance of personal creativity while maintaining the director’s vision of what’s going on in the film, he said.

“When I write a song, I’ve got to be in the mood and have something to get off my chest,” Rob said. “It’s more taxing when you write a song for a movie. It’s a less organic process, and you’ve got to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. That’s the challenge, but it’s a fun challenge.”

In addition to composing music, he also does various tasks on his brother’s movie sets like fetching props and helping meet actors’ needs.

He said working on movie sets has given him a greater appreciation of the hard work that goes into production.

For example, while he was working on the set of “The Last Rescue,” he and the crew were filming on a 10,000-acre location in Florala, Ala. that was home to a World War II reenactment group that kept authentic military uniforms and machinery.

Rob briefly appeared in that movie, playing a soldier who gets killed in battle.

When he wore the WWII helmet, he said it was heavier than he ever would have imagined and “just the experience and process required in putting the uniform on gave me so much more appreciation of what soldiers went through back then.”