Valdivia Film Fest: 'Kill Your Darlings' Producer Christine Vachon on Indie Filmmaking (Q&A)
VALDIVIA – As she gears up for the U.S. opening of the Daniel Radcliffe starrer Kill Your Darlings this week, legendary producer Christine Vachon was in Chile this past weekend, invited by the Valdivia Film Festival to give a master class on film production, financing and distribution for young local producers.
Vachon is no stranger to the country: She currently is working with Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Silva, with whom she already did Magic Magic (shot in Chile), and just finished shooting Nasty Baby, starring Kristen Wiig. "We’re also doing Sebastian's next film, Second Child, which we're really just putting the financing on," she adds. The head of Killer Films also is working with Mexican helmer Jorge Michel Grau (We Are What We Are) on a thriller called Big Sky, starring Kyra Sedgwick.
We’re seeing more and more Latin-American filmmakers making a leap to the U.S. What do you attribute that to?
Well, that’s their preference. There have been a number of interesting movies coming out of Latin America, and then the filmmakers decide. Some of them decide they want to make English-language movies; some of them decide they want to make studio films. Sebastian is a good example, because he’s really trying to have his career on his own terms, in a very interesting way. It’s not like he said, “Great, I’ve had some success in my Spanish-speaking films, and now I’m going to turn that into a big studio franchise." He may yet decide to do that, but he’s taking steps to make movies.
Does a growing presence of Latin-American filmmakers say something about a need for newer perspectives in U.S. filmmaking?
Yes, but that’s never been different. I think U.S. filmmaking on every level is always looking for that. Sometimes directors come to Hollywood with an interesting point of view and run away screaming, and sometimes they come with an interesting point of view and are able to make something extraordinary. So it depends on the director and their ability to work within the studio system and what they want to say.
You’ve produced directors like John Waters and Todd Solondz. Do you think there’s still room in the U.S. for those kinds of films?
I think there is more of an audience now than ever. It’s just defining what different kinds of distribution strategies and platforms are used. That’s really what it comes down to. Can a very controversial film be made in a conventional manner, with foreign pre-sales and an American pre-buy? Maybe not so much. But the good news now is that when it is being made, there are many more ways to exploit it.
Can the new ways of exhibition and distribution favor these smaller, more independent films?
What is happening more and more is that independent filmmakers are figuring out ways, and this changes practically week to week, to control the distribution themselves. And I think that control is going to be the new wave of the future.
Kill Your Darlings follows a lukewarm performance by Walter Salles' On the Road, also about the Beat Generation. Could this hurt your film?
Sadly, when a movie doesn’t do well and it’s about a certain subject, people say, ‘Oh, no one is interested in that subject.’ And sometimes they’re just not interested in that movie. I’ve got great respect for Walter Salles’ film, but I think it was a different take on it, a very different kind of film from the one we’ve made. Why didn’t it connect with audiences? I don’t know. There are a million reasons. As I said in my class, sometimes you can blame the campaign, you can blame the poster, you can blame the trailer, you can say they didn’t spend enough money, or they didn’t spend it in the right places. Sometimes people just don’t want to see it. Who knows why. From my point of view, Kill Your Darlings is a completely different film; they don’t have much in common. And maybe people will want to see this one. I’ll know in four days.