Diana (Lili Simmons) is clever, charming, and a wicked good pool player who enters the high-stakes, illegal world of keno gambling. Nick (Kim Coates) owns a run-down plantation house and hosts a ring of games, placing stakes on players that he takes under his wing. When Diana and Nick cross paths, her ambition combined with his greed raises the stakes beyond anything they’ve yet to encounter.
“The trailer, it comes across as, ‘Holy, what’s going on?’ and there’s Diana brilliantly played by Lily Simmons, there’s something on my hand, there’s a game… It’s kind of like upbeat sports, and yet it really invites you in to watch the film,” said Coates.
Double Down South certainly offers plenty for viewers to take in, from the tone of the film, the characters, the tightly written script where each scene has a purpose, the thrills, to the themes and messages within. As to be expected, considering it’s written and directed by Oscar Winning filmmaker Tom Schulman (Dead Poets Society).
Alongside Coates and Simmons in the cast of Double Down South are Cameron Cowperthwaite, Igby Rigney, Rebecca Lines, Tom Bower, Justin Marcel McNamus, and more. It will see its world premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival 2022 on Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 pm PDT.
Inspiration and Getting Involved Double Down South
“I sent Kim the script, and he thought it was just for notes,” Shulman jovially explained. “He didn’t realize I wanted him to do it. But finally, when the money came in and everything, it was like okay, now we’re offering.”
“I was hysterical,” said Coates, “I was talking to one of my best friends in the world, and five months go by, I didn’t read the script. I thought he wanted notes from me. He’s got all these other brilliant people to give him notes that I thought, ‘He’ll be fine without my notes.’ Then my agents go, ‘You know this, but Tommy offered you the co-lead in his next film.’ I went, ‘What?’ and then I read it right away. This movie, really, it’s so unbelievably well put together writing-wise.”
Double Down South will challenge audiences through Coates’ character Nick, though, who at times is charming, but ultimately is vile with a nature that’s hindered by racism and misogyny.
“I knew Kim would bring charm to that character,” explained Schulman, allowing for the themes in the film that move the story along to not be poured on thicker than they needed to be. “When you play a guy like Nick… it’s just so hard because he’s full of all the [expletive]. All that misogyny and racism, and where he came from, his stealing and wanting to beat people up. You have to feather it,” added Coates.
As they do, feathering it just enough that, without giving anything away, will leave viewers with a sense of satisfaction by its end.
The Tone of Double Down South
“It’s his way or the highway,” said Coates on his character Nick, which sets the tone for the entire film. “He’s not going to change… I mean right down to the wardrobe, I wear one pair of cowboy boots the whole time, one pair of jeans the whole time, there’s no real changing. That’s why they live right in that house, and I don’t even know if there’s a shower that works in that home. It’s all about survival and making money, and that’s what he does in this movie.”
In that home is a lot of character as well, with a level of distress that encompasses the walls and those who walk within them.
“From my perspective, we couldn’t do the movie unless we found that plantation,” explained Schulman. “We needed one for the interior and one for the exterior. We found one in South Carolina, but the interior was in really good shape, and we couldn’t afford to bring it back to good shape once we distressed it, so we couldn’t use that place. We found this place in Madison, Georgia, where the owner was going to remodel the house anyway, so we got to do whatever. Keith, our art director, showed up, and he did every room… and did a brilliant job. It was hard to believe when seeing the house before and after. He just brought it right down to exactly where we needed it.”
Double Down South is a production of Benacus Entertainment.