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Director Nicole Paone Talks to Inside+Out Upstate NY about The Kill Room

2023 Woodstock Film Festival: A Conversation With Filmmaker Nicol Paone about her film “The Kill Room”

By inside + out | September 18, 2023

In celebration of the 24th Annual Woodstock Film Festival, INSIDE+OUT is pleased to present an exclusive interview with filmmaker Nicol Paone, to talk about her film, The Kill Room, starring Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Manganello, and Maya Hawke. The cast that also includes Debi Mazar, Dree Hemingway, Amy Keum, Candy Buckley, Larry Pine, Jennifer Kim, Matthew Maher, Tom Pecinka, and Alexander Sokovikov.

Director, writer, and comedian Nicol Paone got her start at Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Funny or Die and was nominated for an Environmental Media Award for her work on Climate Change with the Obama administration. Her first feature, Friendsgiving, produced by Ben Stiller and Nicholas Weinstock, enjoyed the number-one spot on iTunes, Redbox, and Fandango.

Get your tickets now to The Kill Room – you know it will sell out quickly. Here’s the scoop: Patrice Capullo has a problem, her art gallery isn’t making money. Gordon Davis has an even bigger problem, while arranging hits for the mob, he and his “colleague” Reggie Pitt, need a better way to launder their money. A chance introduction through Patrice’s drug dealer has the art world meet the underworld and the art career of Reggie “The Bagman” is born. This attracts attention, press, and wealthy collectors; something Reggie’s superiors in the underworld are very unhappy with.While Patrice wrongfully assumes she’s laundering money for drugs, she learns of Reggie’s true profession and she wants out. A deal is struck. She can be free if she takes out an infamous Russian billionaire who’s been an impossible to get target for years. Fortunately, Patrice is aware of the one place in the entire world where the rich and powerful gather unprotected under one roof–The Miami Art Fair.

OK then, let’s meet Nicol Paone…

INSIDE+OUT: Tell us about your latest film, which will be shown at this year’s festival.

Nicol Paone: It’s called The Kill Room, and it stars Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Manganiello and Uma Thurman. Uma plays an acerbic art dealer who delves into the illicit world of money laundering, but when things go awry, she has to play the art world against the underworld. It’s a fun, fanciful send-up of the absurdity in the art world.

What inspired you to choose a career in the film business, and what was your journey?

It’s a bit of a full-circle story. When Sam and Uma were filming Pulp Fiction in ’94, I was working as a currency trader on Wall Street and exploring acting classes. It was quite a stroke of luck to discover my lifelong passion at the age of 22. After moving to LA, I honed my comedy chops at The Groundlings Theater, learning about character creation and the power of drafting. Collaborating with Adam McKay and Will Ferrell at Funnyordie was a turning point for me, which led me to contribute to the Obama White House on Climate Change pitches, which opened doors to joining Hillary Clinton’s campaign creative team, which eventually led to my directorial debut. My manager recognized my potential and guided me towards directing. Two years later, I completed my first feature film, Friendsgiving 2020. Following the release of Friendsgiving, a friend from my Wall Street days handed me The Kill Room’s script, and with a bit of financial backing from another connection, the project moved forward. Interestingly, my actions way back in ’94 might have unknowingly played a role in setting the stage for Sam and Uma’s reunion.

2023 Woodstock Film Festival: A Conversation With Filmmaker Nicol Paone Film The Kill Room
2023 Woodstock Film Festival: A Conversation With Filmmaker Nicol Paone Film The Kill Room
Nicol Paone directing Samuel L Jackson in The Kill room

What was your most rewarding or the most challenging project to date?

Definitely, The Kill Room. It was a real roller coaster with financing hiccups, weather curveballs, COVID-related hurdles, and a shift toward a full-on thriller vibe. Every angle was a challenge.

What are your thoughts on technology and the changing landscape of the TV and film industry?

It’s a rapidly changing, constantly shifting terrain that demands everyone’s attention and awareness. When we sign contracts, we must fully grasp the AI implications not just for the current project but for the future as well.

What is one question you’re constantly asked, or what’s the biggest misconception about what you do?

I’m always getting hit up about turning people’s scripts into productions like it’s a piece of cake or something.

Can you put your finger on what makes a great Director and who inspires you?

There are so many things that go into being a truly great director. A great director possesses a combination of artistic vision, leadership skills, technical expertise and a little bit of madness. They have the ability to understand how to translate a script’s narrative into compelling visual storytelling, evoking emotions and connecting with the audience on a deep level. And that’s not easy to do. They have to have a keen eye for composition, framing, lighting, and overall visual style. They have to guide actors to deliver authentic, nuanced performances that bring characters to life and resonate with the audience. They have to be a leader and work seamlessly with the entire film crew. They have to make quick decisions and be very adaptable when unforeseen challenges happen. Ultimately, a great director is a masterful conductor who always knows how to make that money back! Right now, I couldn’t be more inspired by the work of Greta Gerwig.

2023 Woodstock Film Festival: A Conversation With Filmmaker Nicol Paone Film The Kill Room

2023 Woodstock Film Festival: A Conversation With Filmmaker Nicol Paone Film The Kill Room

What are you working on now that you’re excited about?

I’m thrilled about several ongoing projects. I’m currently co-writing a holiday movie with my writing partner, Jordan Rawlins, who makes me laugh hourly. Additionally, we have a female sports comedy in the works starring Edi Patterson from The Righteous Gemstones, who is one of the funniest people I know.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

So, I think the Daniels got it right because I would like to multiply myself by 1,000 so I can be everything, everywhere, all at…. you get it.


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About the Woodstock Film Festival
Connect > Website | Facebook| @woostockfilmfestival | INSIDE+OUT Premium Page

 2023 Woodstock Film Festival

Founded in 2000, the Woodstock Film Festival (WFF) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that nurtures and supports emerging and established filmmakers, sharing their creative voices through an annual festival and year-round programming to promote culture, diversity, community, educational opportunities and economic growth.

WFF provides innovative mentoring and inspired educational programs benefitting filmmakers, students and diverse audiences while serving as a powerful cultural and economic engine for New York’s Hudson Valley and beyond. Such efforts have consistently resulted in the festival being hailed as one of the top regional film festivals worldwide. The Woodstock Film Festival is an Oscar®-qualifying festival in the short film categories – Live Action Short Film, Animated Short Film, and Documentary Short Film.


Now in its 24th year, 2023 promises to as exciting as ever! 2023 lineup and Tickets HERE.
Full and Weekend Festival Passes are available – Get Your Festival Passes HERE

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