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Christine Vachon

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Christine Vachon, co-founder and CEO of Killer Films, whose films include “Boy’s Don’t Cry,” “Far From Heaven,” “Happiness, I’m Not There,” “One Hour Photo” and “Mildred Pierce” for HBO has joined the Stony Brook faculty on the Southampton Arts Campus.

By Candace Sindelman


What is your goal for the program?

The film industry is changing so radically our goal is to a put together a program that really reflects the times.


How long have you been teaching for?

On and off for about 20 years.


How has your experience been teaching?

The experience has obviously been pretty good.


What has been your favorite experience about teaching?

Working with filmmakers just starting out makes you realize what an exciting business it can be. It really prevents cynicism and that’s a great thing.


How did you get the idea to team up with Stony Brook?

I was originally approached by Magdalene Brandeis. I sat down with Bob Reeves and we started talking about different strategies. We were both frustrated with how film production careers were being taught in a traditional setting. We wanted to do something different.


What are some of the biggest mistakes that film schools tend to make?

Honestly it comes back to film schools are still dealing with the idea that the end goal has to be a theatrical feature film. It needs a radical overhaul in that most people consume media in completely different ways in how we actually tell stories and the stories we actually film; new filmmakers need to be thinking about that in much more innovative ways.


What makes a great film?

Everyone has a different answer. Ultimately, the film takes you to some place you have never been and the experience of watching the film has been directed by a terrific journey in incredibly safe hands. (Pause) Some people’s idea of a great film is “Weekend at Bernie’s,” and that is fine.


What advice would you give to filmmakers just starting out?

Be as open as possible to new opportunities and be as flexible as possible how you tell stories and where people see them and think about who the audience is for your work.


What is something you wished you knew when first starting out in film?

I don’t think about stuff like that.


What type of stuff do you think about?

Oh, where I am going to get my next meal.


Where do you see the program in the next five years?

That’s a tough one. I don’t even think about next week. Ideally we’ll create something self-sustaining that’s really relevant. I’ve made over 70 films; I love what I do. I managed to stay in business and listen to the times. I hope that there will be a new generation of filmmakers to tap into and really collaborate with.


What about Stony Brook Southampton’s facilities appealed to you?

It’s a beautiful campus and a beautiful place with a lot of possibilities that I am just beginning to explore.


How do you stay current in today’s industry?

The answer to that question is longer than I have time for. Come to my master class.  Ultimately the short answer is to watch as much content as you can. Find the good stuff and support it.