On Sunday night, veteran indie film producers Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler — the duo behind Academy Award-nominated films such as “Still Alice,” “Far From Heaven,” “Boys Don’t Cry” and the critically-lauded “Carol” — celebrated the 20th anniversary of their production company Killer Films at an intimate cocktail party held at New York’s Roxy Hotel.
Supportive guests like Michelle Monaghan, Parker Posey, Tony Kushner, Cory Michael Smith and Zosia Mamet raised a glass for the producing partners, who have financed nearly 100 motion pictures, documentaries and television projects together in the past two decades. Considered trailblazers in the indie film world, their latest project, Todd Haynes’ lesbian romance “Carol,” may be their most critical and commercial success yet. The movie is expected to nab Oscar nominations come announcement time in January.
“There is no cookie cutter formula on how to do it,” Koffler told Variety about the secret to their success, over a glass of champagne. “It may be about being adaptable and doing what you really love. We get really invested in what we do and we don’t say yes to a project just because we have to. We only do certain projects that we want to do and really love. There has to be passion and I think that’s helped us for the past 20 years.”
Added Vachon, “We’re like cockroaches after a nuclear blast. We do whatever it takes, even if it means eating plaster. We keep trying to figure out ways to keep doing what we want to do, and that’s to tell visionary stories. We hustle and work hard at everything we do. Also, ignorance is bliss. It’s absolutely helped us. If you don’t know how scary it is, then you’re not afraid.”
From Larry Clark’s controversial drama “Kids,” to the imaginative movie musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” to the five-hour HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce,” the storytellers are involved in every step of the filmmaking process. They face huge challenges (in script development, financing, casting and location scouting) with each project, but say it’s worth the stress and sleepless nights.
“Every single movie is its own epic tale of war,” said Vachon. “Something big always happens, but you forget about it and move on. Your focus is on how to get your film out into the world. Getting every single movie greenlit is an act of extreme precision and intensity. It’s so hard. It’s like childbirth. You remember how bad it was and you wouldn’t want to do it again, but at the end, it’s worth it.”
Oscar-nominated actress Patricia Clarkson has appeared in three Killer Films-produced movies, “Far From Heaven,” “Cairo Time” and the 2014 drama “October Gale.” She applauds Vachon for shepherding “unique and female-driven films.”
“Christine is a very rare person in our industry because she has equal doses of talent and taste,” Clarkson told Variety at the event presented by Refinery29 and Rag & Bone. “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.”