James Killough

CEO & Founder

James Killough

“Refreshingly forthright.” Kyle Smith, NY Post

A native New Yorker raised in Rome, Italy, James Killough began his career in Paris assisting legendary photographer Pamela Hanson, after resigning from Wesleyan at the end of his freshman year. He knew he wanted to be a filmmaker, and that required experience. 

Following another year in Melbourne, Australia working as a stills photographer and digging up his maternal roots, James worked at his father’s boutique ad agency in New York City, left that when his dad got caught in the Iran-Contra scandal, and dove into a stint as the features editor of a hip glossy. 

James finally launched his film career in India, working as a writer and producer with directors such as Muzaffar Ali, Pamela Rooks, and Shekhar Kapur. His screenplay for Rooks’ Miss Beatty’s Children helped it win the Film Festival of India in 1993. That same year he was honored to be asked to be the MC of the first televised Miss India Pageant, viewed by hundreds of millions around the world. “It’s something every young American should do at one point in his life,” he says of the singular experience.

In Hollywood, Killough has written and developed film projects and dozens of commercials for legendary filmmakers Tarsem Singh, Marcus Nispel and the late Tony Scott, among others, as well as for Oscar-nominated producers Lisa Bruce (Darkest Hour) and Howard Rosenman (Call Me By Your Name), and Christine Vachon (Carol).  James’ directorial debut, Losing Her — his first collaboration with Rain Li — was the centerpiece for the “Late at Tate” at Tate Britain for November, 2008 with a special installation in the main hall of the museum.

During his decade in London after the turn of this century, Killough raised close to $2 million in development funds for his company, Pure Film Limited, in partnership with the late Hon. Angad Paul (Snatch, Lock, Stock…)  and Baron Lorne Thyssen-Bornemisza of the steel and art-collecting dynasty. Upon his return to Los Angeles in 2011, Killough launched Pure Film Creative to broaden the company’s purview from being exclusively focused on film and TV to including all forms of content creation across every possible platform. The company has created content for major brands and corporations, among them Citibank, Aramark, Iron Mountain, TransAmerica, Prudential Insurance, and numerous legacy luxury brands.

Killough’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story Winter Dreams made United Talent Agency’s Best Reads of the Year with a rare strong recommend from analysts. In 2020 he completed a three-picture feature-film deal with his creative partner Rain Li for major Chinese studios. Their short film Us was viewed over 70 million times in twenty-four hours when it streamed in May 2016, which led the team to a feature-film commission based on its complex mother-daughter dynamic.

James has been published in The New York Times, Travel and Leisure, and Health and Fitness. A regular guest lecturer at NYU Film School, his work is also used as teaching tools by his mentor, Jack Lechner (Blue Valentine), currently chair of the Film Department at Columbia University.

Fluent in five languages, James divides his time between L.A., New York, Beijing and Delhi. Recently he launched Newburgh Workwear, a first-to-market apparel brand targeted to working people. In June 2022, he published a controversial two-part exposé explaining how his teen romance with an older boy in Rome in the late 70s was the main inspiration for André Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name.

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  • James Killough

    @james_killough Dec 22
    .@nytimes It's alarming and scary how on board you STILL are with thought and speech policing. "Strives to be more… https://t.co/s2Cu2hAdRH
  • James Killough

    @james_killough Dec 21
    One for the mantelpiece. I'm more than a little verklempt. Well done @drewangerer for capturing the spirit of this… https://t.co/NUOpK3FZym
  • James Killough

    @james_killough Dec 12
    RT @SwipeWright: @elonmusk @StationCDRKelly Also, the push for pronoun exchange rituals is an attempt by activists to normalize regressive…

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