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Killer Films' Christine Vachon is a champion of indie movies — including many set in Cincinnati

She'll discussed her career tomorrow at Aronoff
Posted: 11:00 AM, Mar 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-05 11:01:27-05
Christine Vachon

CINCINNATI — Christine Vachon, who has championed independent filmmaking for nearly three decades, will share her experiences as a producer of multiple Academy Award-nominated movies and co-founder of New York-based Killer Films during a Wednesday question and answer event hosted by Film Cincinnati.

Film Cincinnati executive director Kristen Schlotman will moderate the event, which begins at 7 p.m. inside the Jarson-Kaplan Theater at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through Cincinnati Arts.

"I think it's going to be a sort of discussion about my career as a film producer, probably about some of my movies, specifically 'Carol,'" Vachon said during a recent phone interview.

Killer Films produced "Carol," the Academy Award-nominated portrait of an affair between a wealthy married woman (Cate Blanchett) and a shy department store salesgirl (Rooney Mara), in Cincinnati in 2014. The company has worked on four other Cincinnati projects since: "A Kind of Murder," starring Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson; "Goat," starring Nick Jonas; "My Days of Mercy," starring Ellen Page and Kate Mara; and "Dry Run," starring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway, which began filming locally in January.

"Dry Run" tells the true story of Robert Bilott, an attorney who led a class-action lawsuit against the DuPont Corporation for releasing pollution into the environment. A majority of the movie takes place in Cincinnati, and "Carol" director Todd Haynes returned to the Queen City to direct.

"We highlight it rather than hide it," Vachon said of Cincinnati as it appears in "Dry Run."

Her other films have been more circumspect about their shooting location — in both "Carol" and "A Kind of Murder," for example, the Queen City's distinctive art deco architecture helped disguise it as midcentury New York City.

Vachon said when Haynes approached her with an existing script for "Dry Run" and told her he planned to film it in Cincinnati, saying yes was automatic. The pair met in college during the '80s, and both their careers started with the 1991 sci-fi horror film "Poison" — the first film Haynes directed and the first Killer Films produced. Vachon has worked with Haynes on every one of his projects since.

"My assumption is, when he decides to do something, I tend to go along with him," Vachon said. "Usually, as we are winding one thing down, we are discussing what's next."

(In this case, it's likely a Haynes-directed documentary about the 1960s New York rock band Velvet Underground.)

Vachon said Cincinnati continues to be a favorite city for Killer Films to produce movies for multiple reasons.

"It's a combination," she said. "Film Cincinnati and Kristen (Schlotman) are just terrific. There is still a lot of excitement from local merchants when we say we're going to shoot a scene on their block or in front of their business."

Vachon also mentioned Ohio's film tax credit and other incentives that allow companies such as Killer Films to affordably produce independent movies focused on character-driven plots.

"I think one of the things that has happened in Hollywood is those mid-budget movies that defined character-driven drama are just not being made anymore," Vachon said. "We try to make movies that are financially sound or do tell stories that are never told."

She added those tax credits help production companies such as Killer Films to employ local people and perhaps launch a few careers along the way.

"We want to help start the careers of young filmmakers," Vachon said. After "Carol," she added: "I've seen people start in entry-level positions who are now working at the top of their field."