Christine Vachon once said that she remains successful in the film industry because she and her Killer Films co-founder Pamela Koffler are “like cockroaches after a nuclear blast. We do whatever it takes.” And many directors would attest that once Christine sets her sights on a story or director, she gets flat out gets the job done even if it takes twelve years for the right elements to come together. She has been one of the most successful producers in the industry over the last three decades and is showing no signs of stopping.
Telling Stories Hollywood Won’t
Film critics have long praised Vachon her for “telling the stories Hollywood won’t” and for having the grit to champion up-and-coming directors that turn into mainstays. Director Kimberly Pierce recalled meeting Christine when she was a grad student at Columbia University. Kimberly was so strapped for cash that she could not afford to get her thesis project from the lab.
Christine paid for her to retrieve them and reviewed the stories with her. A short that Kimberly wrote eventually became the feature film Boys Don’t Cry with producing help from Christine and went on to win Hilary Swank her first Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress. Kimberly marveled at Christine’s willingness to take a chance on her as a grad student, saying, “Think about that gamble. She doesn’t care that you actually haven’t done it before. Christine has said to me many times, ‘I believe in first-time directors. They have a story in them that they have desperately wanted to tell for years.’ She believes you’re going to learn on the job. That’s extraordinary.”
Christine also has a good eye for acting talent and pairing the right people on screen. Oscar-nominated actress Patricia Clarkson pointed out that Christine has been successful in launching “unique and female-driven films.” Patricia said this of Christine, “Christine is a very rare person in our industry because she has equal doses of talent and taste. The films she has made are important and have an impact on the world. I owe her a lot. I have a better career because of her. She is extraordinary.”
There are countless stories like that over the course of Christine’s 30-year producing career where she has helped bring more than 70 stories to the screen.
KILLER FILMS’ OSCAR-WINNING FILMS:
Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry
Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s Still Alice.
KILLERFILMS’ OSCAR-NOMINATED FILMS:
Todd Haynes’ Carol, I’m Not There, and Far from Heaven
The latter swept the Independent Spirit Awards, winning five including Best Actress (Julianne Moore), Best Director, and Best Feature. In her capacity as producer, Vachon has most recently been nominated in the Spirits’ Best Feature category for First Reformed; the film also garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, among other honors.
Christine shares that a key to her success is evolving with an ever-changing industry. Christine said, ”If you want to have a sustainable career in filmmaking, the trick is to be as entrepreneurial as possible. What that means is being open to as many different kinds of storytelling and platforms for storytelling as you possibly can be. There is no crystal ball and the industry has changed in a million different ways, and what matters is the ability to adapt.”
BendFilm Selects Christine Vachon for IndieWomen of the Year Award
It was Christine’s indelible mark on independent film that drew the BendFilm team to want to highlight her career at the 2019 Festival. Often directors get the credit once a film is out in the world but BendFilm took a new approach to the Indie Woman of the Year award this year by acknowledging the behind-the-scenes work producers do from concept to completion.
In the independent film industry where the budgets are small, indie film producers like Christine have to be extremely resourceful, creative and determined. BendFilm will formally recognize Vachon for her tireless work to foster diverse voices in independent film and her bold vision to champion stories that steer outside the mainstream by screening three films she helped launch: Carol, First Reformed, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
BendFilm Director, Todd Looby, said, “The IndieWoman of the Year award is named for Pamela Hulse Andrews a longtime Bend business leader, arts supporter and force of nature who inspired women across all business sectors. Christine Vachon embodies this same generous, innovative and tenacious spirit and we look forward to honoring her in October.”
About the IndieWomen of the Year Award:
BendFilm created the IndieWomen of the Year award in 2018 in honor of the late Pamela Hulse Andrews who was a Bend business leader and advocate for the arts for more than 25 years.. Debra Granik and Producer Anne Rosselini received the award at the 2018 Festival. Pamela was a passionate arts advocate who worked tirelessly to support women in film. BendFilm will carry on Pamela’s memory through this award, presenting it to female artists who demonstrate an exceptional passion for independent film, bravely shares her authentic voice and makes extraordinary contributions to the independent body of work.