Nicholas T. Peetros

He is the Producer of Danny Donnelly‘s The Woman in the Room Dollar Baby film.

SKSM: Tell us about yourself, who is Nicholas T. Peetros and what do you do or have you done?

Nicholas T. Peetros: Hello Bernd, thank you for inviting me to this interview. I grew up in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.  The neighborhood that I lived in was quiet and very family friendly. Neighborhood kids played in the streets, we walked to school, stayed outside until it was dark, rode our bikes for miles and miles, and could basically do anything without concern. It was a great place to live, and still is. I am a licensed engineer and currently employed as a Senior Construction Estimator. I was a Project Manager for 25+ years prior to becoming a Certified Professional Estimator and worked on some amazing projects, including the Kimmel Center (home of the Philadelphia Orchestra) and Citizens Bank Park (home of the Philadelphia Philles). I have managed well over $1 billion worth of work during my nearly 30-year career.

SKSM: When was the point that you thought I want to produce movies?

Nicholas T. Peetros: I have always been obsessed with the process of filmmaking. I would watch movies like E.T. and Star Wars and try to imagine how they made these things look real. My dream job was to work for Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) as a kid. I wanted to go to film school, but I let my parents talk me out of it. They were afraid I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills as a filmmaker. Frankly, I had similar fears, so I took the “safe” path and got my degree in Engineering with the plan to become a filmmaker when the time was right.

© Nicholas T. Peetros

SKSM: What interests you most about video production?

Nicholas T. Peetros: I enjoy starting with an idea and ending up with a tangible product that (hopefully) is entertaining, thought-provoking, and visually striking. I like the process of selecting a script, building a team, finding locations, and executing the plan. I have found that Film producers and Project Managers share a lot of the same skills. Film and construction require control of the budget, schedule, workers (talent), safety, and logistics (locations); also, working with unions (crew), local municipalities, and local authorities. It was a natural transition for me.

SKSM: How did you become involved in ‘The Woman in the Room‘ as a producer?

Nicholas T. Peetros: This project started about 4 years ago. I was looking for a new project and a fellow indie film producer asked me if I ever considered doing a Dollar Baby, to which I responded, “What is a Dollar Baby?” Within minutes of him explaining it to me, I was online researching which stories were available to adapt. ‘The Woman in the Room‘ seemed like a good choice for a filmmaker with a limited budget. Small Cast, few locations, and no special effects needed. This allowed us to focus our budget where it had the greatest effect. Also, I liked the challenge of following in Darabont’s shoes.

SKSM: What does and/or is the role of a producer in a film adaptation?

Nicholas T. Peetros: An independent film producer needs to wear many hats, which is something I enjoy because I get bored easily. My responsibilities included, but were not limited to, obtaining the rights from Stephen King, hiring the writer, director, and crew; auditions/casting, scouting/securing the filming locations, SAG agreements, liability insurance, purchase/rent props, sending out call sheets, and most importantly making sure there was plenty of coffee on set. I am hands-on but also believe that a good producer should hire the best people for the job and let them do what they do best without interference. I put a lot of trust in my team, which is why it’s so important to pick the right players. My contribution to the writing process was minimal. I provided guidelines regarding our budget, the length of the film, number of locations, and requested a new/different ending. Danny and I worked together on casting and location scouting, which took longer than we thought it would. Once production was wrapped, I worked closely with Danny on the edit and sound design, however my comments were minimal. I also worked with Chris Potako who did the final sound mix and poster for the film.  Filmmaking is an extremely collaborative effort, and a producer needs to engage with everyone involved.

© Nicholas T. Peetros

SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much, after so many years?

Nicholas T. Peetros: I believe this story resonates with people because everyone has, or eventually will need to deal with end-of-life decisions. Watching a loved one suffer must be one of the hardest things to experience, and the desire to help end their suffering is a universal human emotion.

SKSM: What was it like to work with Danny Donnelly on this film?

Nicholas T. Peetros:  It was a great pleasure working with Danny. He is talented, personable, and extremely well prepared. Danny always shows up with a clear plan for getting the shots we need, which is essential. Indie Producers rarely have the budget to extend our shooting schedule, which creates its own set of challenges. Danny is great at thinking on his feet, which is critical when we inevitably run into those challenges. Danny is also a producer which makes my job a lot easier. Most importantly, Danny has an easy-going personality and has a great rapport with the cast and crew. We all work hard but maintain a fun atmosphere on set.

SKSM: How do you communicate with a director to carry out the production process for a film?

Nicholas T. Peetros: I believe that successful filmmaking requires a collaborative environment. Depending on where we are in the process, it could be daily, hourly, or weekly. We’ll speak every few days during pre-production and then daily as we get closer to our start date. On production days, I am there to support Danny in addition to managing the location and crew. While Danny is filming, I’m on the monitor looking for anything out of place or that doesn’t look right. This allows him to concentrate on the framing, focus, and camera action. We make a good team; I think the results speak for themselves. Once production is complete, Danny and I will talk every few days. I try not to bother him too much because he also does all the editing, color grading, and sound design.

SKSM: There are several easter eggs hidden in the film. Who’s idea was this?

Nicholas T. Peetros: Early on in the writing process, Aimee, Danny, and I agreed that we would work in some Easter eggs. All three of us are Stephen King fans and contributed.

SKSM: Was there a funny and/or special moment during production that you would like to share with us?

Nicholas T. Peetros:  I have a very funny story but it would give away the ending…

SKSM: What did you think of the film adaptation itself and are you satisfied with the result?

Nicholas T. Peetros: I think that Aimee did a fantastic job with the adaptation, and I am very satisfied with the results. As I mentioned previously, my input regarding the screenplay was minimal. There were some key themes that needed to be maintained, but aside from that we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted. This is not an easy task, especially when you are adapting a story written by someone like Stephen King and Aimee crushed it.

© Nicholas T. Peetros

SKSM: A selected audience has now seen your film adaptation, what were their reactions?

Nicholas T. Peetros: All of the feedback we have received to date has been very positive. We completed the film 3 months ago and have already been selected by some well-known festivals and nominated for several awards. My hope is that Mr. King watches the copy I sent to him, I’d love to know what he thinks.

SKSM: If you could produce or direct another Stephen King story into a (Dollar Baby-)movie, what would it be and why?

Nicholas T. Peetros:  If I could produce another Stephen King story, it would be ‘Christine‘. I have always been a ‘car guy’ and the idea of a possessed antique car really appeals to me. I am also a big fan of practical effects, and the original had some of the best of its time. I’d love to destroy some cars while getting paid to do it.

SKSM: What do you think about the existence of a Dollar Baby community? Were you aware of this before?

Nicholas T. Peetros:  I only became aware of the Dollar Baby program about 4 years ago. I think it was amazing that Stephen King allowed filmmakers to adapt his stories. I was saddened to hear about it’s dissolution, but extrememly grateful that we had the opportunity.

SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?

Nicholas T. Peetros: Yes, I have been a fan of Stephen King for a long time. The Shining is my favorite. Others include Christine, Pet Sematary, Misery, Stand by Me, Shawshank Redemption, Creepshow I & II, Cujo, and The Green Mile, in no particular order.

SKSM: In 2018 you start your own business at “Ludovico Pictures“. Where does the name Ludovico come from?

Nicholas T. Peetros: This is my homage to Stanley Kubrick’s film “A Clockwork Orange“. The main character of the film (Alex) is sent to a clinic where he underwent an experimental procedure called the Ludovico technique. It’s a rather obscure reference but any Kubric fan immediately knows what it’s from. My goal is to make a film that Stanley would have approved.

SKSM: In addition to producing, you also act. How do you like being in front of the camera?

Nicholas T. Peetros: Yes, I enjoy the occasional acting job. It can be fun living in someone else’s “skin” for a short while. That being said, I am much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.

SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?

Nicholas T. Peetros:  I am currently producing a Twin Peaks fan film titled “Send in the Owl” which is scheduled to be released next year (2025). I have several original cast members and very excited to see how it turns out. I am also one of the producers of a feature film titled “Beneath the Skin” which is still in pre-production.

SKSM: What is in the top 5 on your bucket list? (Everything is possible and nothing is too strange)

Nicholas T. Peetros: In no particular order, get my private pilot’s license, go skydiving, race in the Paris-Dakar Rally, own a Ferrari 308GTS, compete in the Cannonball Run.

© Nicholas T. Peetros

SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Nicholas T. Peetros: I survived an attempted bombing of an international flight from Europe to NYC in 1991

SKSM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Nicholas T. Peetros: I would love to be in a position to be able to quit my job and focus on filmmaking full-time in 5 years from now.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Something you’d like to tell our readers?

Nicholas T. Peetros: You are very welcome. I would like to your readers to support independent filmmakers. The big studios are addicted to remakes, we need more original ideas.

SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?

Nicholas T. Peetros: SPOILER ALERT!! Haven’t you seen the movie yet.. Stop reading!!

© Nicholas T. Peetros

Regarding Question #10: On the day that we filmed the hanging scene, Eric asked me how we were going to make it look like he was hanging himself. I looked right at him with a straight face and said “well, we have a noose and were hoping you can hold your breath for a long time…”, he looked puzzled and then everyone burst out laughing because they knew I was joking,except Eric. Then while we were filming, we would let Eric hang there helpless for a while (he was wearing a safety harness) while we went about setting up the next take. We had a good time making a sad scene fun to shoot.

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