Acclaimed writer, director and producer Tiller Russell creates character-led films that defy genre and display an incisive understanding of the criminal mind and the worlds that surround them. His four-part doc series, Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer, premiered on Netflix in early 2021 to rave reviews. Shortly after, Lionsgate released Silk Road, the real-life thriller Tiller wrote and directed about dark web kingpin Ross Ulbrich, starring Nick Robinson, Jason Clarke, Paul Walter Hauser and Alexandra Shipp. Tiller’s previous documentary series, The Last Narc, details the infamous 1985 cartel murder of DEA agent ‘Kiki’ Camarena and is now streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime. He also directed the crime documentaries Operation Odessa, about the true story of a Russian mobster, a Miami playboy, and a Cuban spy who teamed up in the early ’90s to sell a Soviet submarine to the Cali Cartel, and The Seven Five,which delves into rampant police corruption in New York’s 75th precinct during the 1990s.
On the latest episode of the Talkhouse Podcast, Tiller Russell – the man behind both the doc series The Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer and real-life drama Silk Road – sits down with Oscar winner Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee’s screenwriting partner on BlacKkKlansman, Chiraq and Da 5 Bloods and a fine director in his own right. In a fascinating conversation, the two filmmakers discuss the parallels between their work, the theme of duality that runs through Willmott’s movies, making work that resonates in a post-January 6th world, how Errol Morris changed Tiller’s life, Kevin’s path to becoming Spike Lee’s collaborator, and much more. For more filmmakers talking film and TV, visit Talkhouse at talkhouse.com/film. Subscribe now to stay in the loop on future episodes of the Talkhouse Podcast.
This episode was produced by Melissa Kaplan. The Talkhouse Podcast theme music is composed and performed by the Range.
(Photos courtesy Tiller Russell and Kevin Willmott, edited by Keenan Kush.)