Vachon talks price of indie pics

Killer Films head brings Bahrani feature to Lido

For Christine Vachon at New York’s Killer Films, “What keeps independent film alive, what it has to be charged with now, is true originality, alternative, truly original voices.”

Vachon can certainly talk. Over the past 20 years, from Todd Haynes’ “Poison” in 1991, she’s produced multiple emblematic indie titles with partner Pamela Koffler including, “Go Fish,” “Safe,” “Kids,” “Velvet Goldmine,” “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Far From Heaven.” Last year’s Venice hit, HBO series “Mildred Pierce,” was also exec-produced by Vachon.

She has now produced “At Any Price,” from scribe-helmer Ramin Bahrani (“Chop Shop”), called “the director of the decade” by U.S. critic Roger Ebert. “Through the strength of their scripts, exciting and exhilarating movies like ‘At Any Price’ can attract great casts,” Vachon said.

That’s crucial, she added, because “these days movies are financed by cast, cast, cast.”

Starring Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron, Heather Graham and Kim Dickens and a step-up in budget for Bahrani, “Price” world-preemed Friday in competition to upbeat early reviews. The fundemental importance of cast these days marks a seachange in U.S. indie cinema.

Popular on Variety

“In the first half of the 1990s, when I made ‘Poison’ and ‘Go Fish,’ I’m sure you couldn’t now name an actor in them, but you could name the directors,” Vachon remembered. “That’s what mattered: A sort of appetite for American indie film that wasn’t necessarily about cast.

“Now, there is a lot of downward pressure on the budgets, but the casting pressure has not been relieved. There’s no magic number where you can say, OK, I can make it for this little, we don’t have to worry about cast.”

What hasn’t changed, Vachon says, is Killer’s commitment.

“People have certain expectations when they see the name Killer Films on a movie: They expect they’re going to see something that, even if it’s a brand new filmmaker, is strongly conceived and very well made.”

The New York shingle is still bringing on new talent. Killer has just wrapped production on debut helmer John Krokidas’ murder story “Kill Your Darlings,” with Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Elizabeth Olsen and Michael C. Hall.

Also in post is the “Untitled Sebastian Silva Project,” “The Maid” director’s English-language debut, with Michael Cera, Juno Temple and Emily Browning. Mike White’s Ripcord and Frida Torresblanco’s Braven Films produce with Killer.

Real-life love story “Deep Powder” is Mo Ogrodnik’s first film since 1996’s “Ripe.” Killer is also producing Hilary Brougher’s third film, “Innocence,” with Kelly Reilly, Linus Roache and Sophie Curtis.

“We’d like to think talent is reassured by us, if a film’s by a first-time director or a director who doesn’t have a whole lot of experience,” Vachon said.

More Film

  • Stone, guitarist for Taiwanese pop band

    Mayday Guitarist, Stone Rallies Fans at Singapore Film Festival

    Stone, the Taiwanese performer who has gone from being the guitarist in Mayday to a promising acting career, drew crowds on Friday, the first full day of the Singapore International Film Festival. Speaking at Projector, the indie theater inside the historical Golden Mile building, some two hundred fans gathered to hear the artist share career [...]

  • The Tempest (concept art)

    Film Bazaar: Rinkel Film Boards Tamil Western ‘The Tempest’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netherlands production outfit Rinkel Film (“Rafiki”) has reteamed with India’s Stray Factory (“Nirvana Inn”) for Tamil language Western “The Tempest” (aka “Aasaimugam”). It is to be directed by emerging Indian filmmaker Arun Karthick. The two companies previously co-produced Karthick’s communal bigotry tale, “Nasir,” which benefited from a grant of €50,000 ($55,350) under the Netherlands Film [...]

  • ‘Wallace and Gromit’ Studio Aardman to

    ‘Wallace and Gromit’ Studio Aardman to Make Short Film 'Robin Robin' for Netflix

    “Shaun the Sheep” and “Wallace and Gromit” producer Aardman is making “Robin Robin,” a short film, for Netflix. The project marks a move away for Aardman from working with the BBC, which has broadcast the Oscar-winning stop-motion specialist’s hit projects over the years. “Robin Robin,” which will bow around Christmas 2020, is about a bird [...]

  • Graham Norton to Host 2020 BAFTA

    Graham Norton to Host 2020 BAFTA Film Awards Ceremony 

    Popular British talk show host Graham Norton has been tapped to host the 2020 BAFTA Film Awards ceremony. Norton currently fronts the ratings-winning “The Graham Norton Show“ for the BBC. In assuming hosting duties for the upcoming BAFTA ceremony on Feb. 2, he will be taking over from “Absolutely Fabulous“ star Joanna Lumley, who hosted [...]

  • “Facing It,” an eight-minute 30 second

    U.K. Short 'Facing It' Takes Top Prize at 2019 VIEW Awards

    “Facing It,” a claymation/live-action film about how relationships mold people, has won the 2019 VIEW Conference Award for best short film. The film was written and directed by Sam Gainsborough and co-written by Louisa Wood and produced at the National Film and Television School’s Beaconsfield Studio in Beaconsfield, U.K. The VIEW Awards are an offshoot [...]


    Laemmle Theatres Arthouse Chain No Longer Seeking Buyer

    Los Angeles-based arthouse chain Laemmle Theatres has stopped seeking a buyer, four months after putting itself on the sales block amid slow sales. Greg Laemmle, president of the 81-year-old exhibitor, announced the development Thursday. He told Variety that discussions with an unidentified buyer had reached an advanced stage but fell apart and that there has [...]

  • Morgan Freeman Lori McCreary Gary Lucchesi

    Film News Roundup: Morgan Freeman's Revelations Teams With Gary Lucchesi for Production Venture

    In today’s film news roundup, Morgan Freeman, Lori McCreary and Gary Lucchesi are teaming up; Zolee Griggs, Sara Rue and Ed Quinn are cast; and “Clementine” finds a home. JOINT VENTURE Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment is teaming with former Lakeshore Entertainment president Gary Lucchesi for a joint production venture. Lucchesi will develop [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content