Film Program - Press Coverage
The Writers Lab — a project established by the New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) and IRIS and associated with the Stony Brook MFA in Film program — got a boost this week when Nicole Kidman pledged her support, joining Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey in funding the program for women screenwriters over 40.
The project, established in collaboration with the Writers Guild of America, East, selects leading filmmakers to provide exclusive mentorship and increase opportunities for content made by women. The program has received funding from Streep every year since its inception in 2015.
"What a wonderful idea," said Kidman, who noted the expanding opprtunities for women during her recent acceptance speech at the Screen Actors Guild Awards for her performance in HBO's Big Little Lies. "A space for women to work with one another to develop the stories they want to tell. I’m a fan already."
The Writers Lab is also supported by The Black List, Relativity Media, and Tribeca Film Institute. The next lab will be held in September 2018.
Jennifer Fox's sexual abuse survivor film The Tale, produced by Simone Pero — a member of the MFA in Film program faculty and a Stony Brook University alumna — was described by Variety as "the buzziest movie of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival," and after receiving rave reviews, will premiere on HBO.
The film stars Laura Dern as a woman who starts to uncover memories from her childhood involving sexual abuse, and was one of the most talked-about films at Sundance.
The deal for North American and overseas territories was in the high seven figure range, making it one of the largest pacts out of this year’s Sundance. The Tale will debut along with an outreach program for victims of sexual abuse, which was one of the requests of the filmmakers.
"It has always been my intent to find an engaged distribution partner who deeply understands the wide reach of the project, not just as a film, but also for the impact it can have on a larger global conversation," Fox said in a statement. "In a world in which stories like mine have often been pushed into the darkness, no one has been better at shining a light on storytelling and important social issues than HBO."
Pero is president and founder of For Impact Productions, a strategic marketing and production firm specializing in the confluence of content and social action, and is also president of New York Women in Film and Television. In addition to her producing work, Pero is part of the leadership team that created SUNY's first-ever MFA in Film at Stony Brook, in association with Killer Films.
A short film directed by recent MFA in Film graduate Aaron Lehmann has been named an official selection to the eighth annual Queens World Film Festival.
Lehmann's film, "Violetta," was made in the MFA program and will be shown at the festival,
which will be held at the the Kaufman Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria from March 15-25, 2018.
In the filmmaker's note on the festival website, Lehmann describes the film as follows:
"Violetta" is about a young girl striving for human connection in an isolating and dangerous world. It is about the psychological avenues a person might travel when there is an offset of power dynamics within their family, and how Violetta is striving to understand this all; as her soul begins to steer her towards her own independence. Violetta is not aware of her own motivations, and is forced therefore to allow her desires to lead her into strange worlds, interactions, and discovery."
Learn more at the Queens World Film Festival website.
MFA in Film Faculty Simone Pero Addresses the Year for Women in Entertainment at NYWIFT Gala
Film producer Simone Pero, a member of the MFA in Film program faculty and a Stony Brook University alumna, delivered the presidential welcome speech at the New York Women in Film and Television’s 38th annual Muse Awards gala on Thursday, Dec. 14, at the Hilton Midtown in New York.
Pero, the president of the NYWIFT, spoke about the year for women in entertainment, one that has been seen a revolution against sexual harrassment in the industry. Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hochul and Julie Menin, the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment also addressed the gathering, both championing the causes of women in entertainment, New York State productions, and zero tolerance for harassment.
MFA in Film creative director Christine Vachon recently sat down with The New Yorker’s Hilton Als for a conversation about some of her landmark works, including Larry Clark’s Kids, which looked at AIDS and homelessness among New York teens, and Boys Don’t Cry, one of the first movies to address the trans experience. Vachon also discusses her time working with Harvey Weinstein, and the barriers that women face in Hollywood.
Vachon tells Slate how she has remained successful in a world hostile to both women and midbudget films.
Alan Kingsberg speaks with IVY TV and breaks down everything you need to know to make it as a writer in television, from creating a portfolio, to getting yourself noticed and landing an agent, a manager, and a job.
The MFA in Film program was recognized by The Wrap when, on September 20, it released its ranking of the top 50 film schools in the United States. Stony Brook was ranked 40th in the country, not bad for a program in just its third year.
Focus on Women: Stony Brook's MFA in Film leads the way for shaping women directors
Faculty member Simone Pero notes that we're in an auspicious time for cracking the gender gap in film, entertainment and media storytelling in a Happenings story on the Stony Brook Film Festival, where 42 percent of the films are directed by women.
Christine Vachon, Magdalene Brandeis talk about the state of film with Filmmaker
Christine Vachon, director of the Stony Brook / Killer Films MFA in Film program, spoke with Filmmaker Magazine in an article titled, "Film Schools in a Time of Disruption." Associate director Magdalene Brandeis was also interviewed, and the pair discussed their thoughts on the current state of the film industry and how film schools are adapting.
Bentley Heyman and Helen Schreiner in Montana filming debut feature, Big Fork
Writer-director Bentley Heyman and producer Helen Schreiner met in the SBU/Killer Film Program and are making their first feature film in Whitefish, Montana.
SBS Film Students discover Dogme in East Hampton
From May 13 to May 20, Stony Brook Southampton film students visited sites around East Hampton for a series of linked webisodes using techniques inspired by Dogme 95's ethos for a pared-down, anti-Hollywood approach to filmmaking.
'Toy Story' Writer Alec Sokolow joins Dogme filmmaking students In East Hampton
Alec Sokolow, a screenwriter whose credits include co-writing “Toy Story” and “Garfield,”
is among six writer-directors making a film in East Hampton.
Mr. Sokolow joined a group of Stony Brook Southampton MFA in Film students in January for a semester-long project that takes a Dogme 95 film from inception to completion. The semester began at the Stony Brook University's Manhattan facility and will now culminate in a six-day film shoot.
Julianne Moore interviews Christine Vachon in Interview Magazine
Best Actress Oscar winner Julianne Moore sat down with MFA in Film director Christine Vachon for an interview published in Interview Magazine and on its website.
Vachon and Moore discuss screening her latest film, Carol, in Cuba, getting started in the movie business, and her longstanding and incredibly productive working relationship with director Todd Haynes.
Christine Vachon to be named 'Woman of the Year' at Fusion Film Festival
Christine Vachon, director of the MFA in Film program at Stony Brook Southampton and Manhattan and a co-founder of Killer Films, will be named 2016’s ‘Woman of the Year’ by the Fusion Film Festival, the NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ student film fest.
Vachon’s most recent film, Weiner-Dog, directed by Tisch alumnus and graduate faculty member Todd Soldonz, will kick off the festival, which will be held March 3-5. The film will be followed by a conversation and Q&A between Vachon and Soldonz.
Christine Vachon Wins Special Teddy Award at 2016 Berlin Film Festival
Christine Vachon, director of the MFA in Film program at Stony Brook Southampton and Manhattan and a co-founder of Killer Films, received the Special Teddy Award February 19 at the Berlin Film Festival.
The Teddy Award is an international film award for films with LGBT topics, presented by an independent jury as an official award of the Berlin International Film Festival.
Vachon discussed her long career at the Berlin festival’s Queer Academy Summit, including her work with Todd Haynes, LGBT cinema and the challenges of financing female-driven films.
Former Stony Brook MFA and Killer Films 20/20/20 student Jeanne Applegate was the editor on two films featured at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
Applegate edited the feature Dark Night, which was written and directed by Tim Sutton. Dark Night is a 'ripped-from-the-headlines' story that traces the events leading up to a mass shooting in a suburban multiplex. Anna Rose Hopkins, who starred in Darcy Brislin's 20/20/20 short, was cast in Dark Night. Brislin won a Sundance Institute / Sloan Commissioning Grant this year. Read more on Dark Night at Rolling Stone. Read the review at Twitch.
Applegate also co-edited Sebastian Silva's short film, Dolfun, that played at Sundance in the Shorts 2 program. Applegate began working with Silva through Killer Films on the 2015 feature Nasty Baby.
Former Stony Brook / Killer Films Student Wins Sundance Grant
Darcy Brislin, a 2013 graduate of the Stony Brook / Killer Films 20/20/20 program, won a Sundance Institute / Sloan Commissioning Grant, announced Jan. 27 at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
The grant was one of a slate of awards presented as part of the Sundance Institute Science-in-Film Initiative, made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. $60,000 in awards were presented.
Breslin and Dyana Winkler, co-writers of the film, Bell, will each receive a $12,500 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Bell is the true story of inventor Alexander Graham Bell, including the controversy surrounding his invention of the telephone and his lesser known work with eugenics and the deaf.
Brislin has developed screenplays with Sundance award-winning director Ondi Timoner, actor Maria Bello, and screenwriter Roger Wolfson. She was a selected participant for filmmaker programs at the Cannes, Berlinale and Telluride Festivals, and received a number of fellowships, including the Killer Films bootcamp led by Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler.
MFA in Film partner Killer Films has four films at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival that are gaining attention from the press and the film industry.
Goat, which Southampton MFA students screened and discussed as a test case in Fall 2015, stars Nick Jonas and is directed by Andrew Neel. It is based on Brad Land's 2004 memoir about a college freshman who is subjected to hazing when pledging his older brother's college fraternity. Read more in The Huffington Post, USA Today and Variety.
White Girl is directed by Elizabeth Wood, who was a visiting guest teaching artist as part of the MFA Program Master Class in Spring 2014. The "intense" and "provocative" film stars Morgan Saylor as a college girl who gets caught up a world of drugs and crime. Read more about it and Wood in The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and IndieWire.
Wiener-Dog is the latest from Todd Solondz (Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse) and follows the titular dachsund through a series of troubled owners. The comedy was purchased at Sundance by Amazon. Read more in IndieWire and The Verge.
Frank & Lola is a romantic noir from first-time feature director Matthew M. Ross and stars Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots. Read more at IndieWire.
(Photo: Wiener-Dog, courtesy Sundance Film Festival)
The power producers behind Carol, Still Alice and more gave an informative keynote speech at the festival's Producers Lunch, providing survival tips for producing.
Shot in the Dogme tradition, the seven-episode web series was created this year by students in the MFA in Film program.
How to Write a Killer Resume is written and directed by Melissa Bank, Jill Campbell, Dejan Pavlovic, Tonilyn Sideco, Brad Becker-Parton, Borna Jafari, and Patricia Marx. Starring Juliet Garrett, Shaun Licata, David Rysdahl, Ying Ying Li, Mustafa Gatollari & April Armstrong, and produced with the help of Richie Duque, Lenny Crooks, and Magdalene Brandeis.
The Dogme brotherhood, which included acclaimed Danish filmmakers Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, took a “vow of chastity” that included limiting themselves to natural lighting, no added sound, and only those props that were available at their chosen location. Read more about the production of the series in The East Hampton Star.
Killer Films co-founder and producer Christine Vachon and director Todd Haynes are indie film icons but neither has been nominated for an Academy Award, something that could change with Carol.
The Wrap talks about the duo possibly breaking the streak with the celebrated and raved-about film, which received six Film Independent Spirit Award nominations on Dec. 1. Carol was nominated for Best Feature, Best Director (Haynes), Best Female Lead (Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara), Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography.
Carol was nominated for three Gotham Independent Film Awards, including Best Feature, Best Screenplay and Best Actress (Blanchett), but did not win when the awards were presented on Nov. 30.
In exclusive video, Vachon chats with the Project Greenlight producer on the challenges involved in filming stories about people of color.
Christine Vachon Joins Five Other Prominent Filmmakers in “Producer’s Roundtable”
Killer Films' co-founder Vachon joins a lively conversation on Compton threats, Tarantino outbursts and the truth behind a Star Wars "firing" in a Hollywood Reporter roundtable also featuring Ice Cube, Scott Cooper, Steve Golin, Simon Kinberg and Stacey Sher.
Read more at The Hollywood Reporter.
Killer Films Is Honored at the Hamptons Film Festival
Killer Films' co-founders Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler were honored with the Hamptons Film Festival's industry award for 20 years of innovative, risky movies and for championing unique voices in independent film. Killer Films has produced movies like Boys Don't Cry; Kids; Still Alice, which made its U.S. premiere on the closing night of last year's Hamptons Film Festival; and the most recent, Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Video: Mary Harron on How to Get Films Made Regardless of the Budget
At Indiewire, director Mary Harron talks about Killer Films' Christine Vachon's philosophy of "adapting the aesthetic of the film to fit the budget."
Horizon Award for Young Female Directors to Launch Second Annual Indiegogo Campaign
The award was founded by indie film producers Cassian Elwes ('Dallas Buyers Club'), Lynette Howell ('Mississippi Grind') and Christine Vachon ('Carol'). Read more in The Hollywood Reporter.
Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler Talk 'Carol' and Indie Resilience with The Hollywood Reporter
Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about their latest film, Todd Haynes' Carol, which could mark the company's biggest commercial and critical success yet. From the story, available here:
Killer Films Duo Named to the Gotham 60: Influential New Yorkers in Entertainment and Media
Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler, co-founders of Killer Films, were named to Variety's "Gotham 60: Influential New Yorkers in Entertainment and Media"
Japanese Online Magazine Profiles Southampton's MFA in Film Program
The Stony Brook Southampton MFA in Film program is drawing international attention! The program has now been featured in HEAPS, an online Japanese magazine.
Cannes: 'Carol' Producers Christine Vachon, Elizabeth Karlsen Challenge Stereotypes
Producers Christine Vachon and Elizabeth Karlsen took part in a Women in Motion talk at the Majestic Hotel at Cannes, and proceeded to challenge the stereotypes that are often used to limit both women filmmakers and the movies they are given a chance to make. Read the complete story in The Hollywood Reporter, which includes video of Vachon and Karlsen.
Salma Hayek, Aishwarya Rai and Parker Posey Join Christine Vachon to Hit Back at Gender Inequality
The trio of actresses joined producers Christine Vachon and Elizabeth Karlsen in calling for greater gender equality in film at a forum at the Cannes Film Festival organized by Variety and the United Nations Women's HeForShe campaign. Read more in The Guardian here.
The Velvet Goldmine and I'm Not There director's Cannes-bound film, Carol, functioned as a real-time case study for students in the Stony Brook Graduate Film Program.
Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler Among Variety's Top New York Women in Entertainment
Variety's New York Women's Impact Report has been released and it includes Killer Films and Stony Brook MFA Film Program's Christine Vachon and Pamela
Koffler. The report spotlights innovators, overachievers and executives in the New York entertainment
'Carol,' a new film directed by Todd Haynes and produced by Killer Films and Stony Brook's MFA Film Program Director Christine Vachon, has been named to the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The film stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Read more in VARIETY.
SXSW: The 8 Best Things Christine Vachon Said at Her Keynote
Film program director Christine Vachon delivered the final keynote of the 2015 SXSW Film Festival. Read highlights from her address here. (Indiewire, March 17, 2015)
Award-Winning Writer-Director Ed Burns Shares Filmmaking Tips in Exclusive Video
In an exclusive video, produced by Stony Brook University in partnership with Indiewire, director and actor Ed Burns talks shifting distribution models, social media marketing and directing actors. (Feb. 26, 2015) Watch the video here.
Christine Vachon speaks with The Street about how an Oscar win by Julianne Moore would be a box office blessing for a small independent film like 'Still Alice.' Vachon spoke about the MFA in Film program, saying:
The program kind of grew out of the fact that I had taught at quite a few film schools, both on the graduate and undergraduate level. And what I was seeing was that students were not being prepared for this new world. They weren’t being prepared for this new world where you sort of have to reinvent yourself constantly, and be an artist and an entrepreneur. So we decided to take the old model, and try to make it as based in reality as we could. And also do something affordable. I mean, our MFA at Stony Brook is an affordable MFA. We would like our students to be able to come out and work in film if they want to and not be in crushing debt. The other great thing about our program is how hands on it is – you know at least three of our students got to work on Still Alice, for example, so – hopefully – they can say they worked on an Oscar-winning movie.
View the full video interview here. (Feb. 18, 2015)
SXSW Reveals Christine Vachon as Keynote (Indiewire, Feb. 17, 2015)
SXSW: Producer Christine Vachon to Serve as Keynote Speaker (The Hollywood Reporter, Feb. 17, 2015)
Indie Film Producers and Stony Brook: Partners (East Hampton Star, Feb. 17, 2015)
Christine Vachon discusses the MFA in Film program with the Star:
I had been thinking a lot about how these institutions weren’t really preparing students to earn a living. It’s the old academic issue, there are so many people teaching you who haven’t actually done the thing they’re teaching you how to do. I thought there was a real opportunity here for me and Killer to do an M.F.A. program that really turns all that on its head.One of the interesting things about our program is that there are people of all different ages and experience levels,” Ms. Vachon said. “The faculty consists of people who are in the field, who are really giving students a blow-by-blow as the world unfolds. Another thing that was so appealing about Stony Brook is that it’s affordable.
Co-directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland shared with NPR their own story, one that parallels that of the film. Read more at NPR.com.
Southampton film student Jeanne Applegate has an editor credit on Nasty Baby, which was featured at the Berlin Film Festival. Read the story at Variety.com.
Former film student Alexandra Stergiou was one of the directors of photography for the first video in This American Life's online series, "Videos 4 U."
The video, "I Love You," premiered on the This American Life YouTube channel on February 12, 2015, and was featured in The New York Times article, "Would an Emoticon Have Taken Eight Years?"
The "Videos 4 U" series seeks people who have a personal message that they wanted help delivering.
Ms. Stergiou — pictured at right along with former Southampton Arts film student Jason Evans — helped tell the story of Maia Leppo and Alex Kobzik, who have been in an eight-year relationship but had not said the words "I love you" to each other. The video was Ms. Leppo's way of telling Mr. Kobzik how she felt.
The video was made by Bianca Giaever and This American Life with m ss ng p eces.
Watch the video here:
State Education Department Approves First-Ever Film MFA For Stony Brook Southampton (The Southampton Press, Feb. 10, 2015)
Christine Vachon is featured in a report by Jeffrey Brown on what an indie movie deal means in the age of on-demand.
Deadline's Dominic Patten interviewed Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler at the recent Sundance Film Festival about Killer Films and its "20 solid years as an indie powerhouse."
From the article:
"To help the next generation of filmmakers navigate some of those landmines, the duo started a Masterclass program with Stony Brook University a few years back. Like some of the lessons from Vachon's books Shooting To Killer and A Killer Life, the six-hour workshop teaches the skills for getting a film made and getting it seen. "Part of the reason we started this program is because we feel like there's a lot of young filmmakers that are not getting the tools they need in the films schools to really enter this new world," says Vachon.
Adds Koffler: "One thing we tell young filmmakers frequently, especially the ones in our program, is you really have to be much more entrepreneurial now as a storyteller and wear a lot of different kinds of hats. Filmmakers do themselves no favors when they don’t really learn about that side of the business."
Maria Shriver Spotlights the Women Who Made Still Alice
Maria Shriver, one of the executive producers of the Golden Globe winning and Oscar-nominated film Still Alice, shined the spotlight on the women who made Still Alice, including our own Pamela Koffler, and how the film takes aim at defeating Alzheimer's Disease.
Stony Brook University Opens Its Doors to New MFA Course in Film (Indiewire, Feb. 5, 2015)
Stony Brook Southampton Adds First MFA Degree in Film in The SUNY System (Southampton Patch, Feb. 4, 2015)
SBU Film Students Credited for Work on Award-Winning Still Alice
Three Stony Brook University film students were credited participants in the full-length film Still Alice, nominated today for a 2014 Academy Award® for “Best Actress in a Leading Role” and winner of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe Award for “Best Actress,” for Julianne Moore
Killer Films' Still Alice Nets Golden Globe Win with Julianne Moore
Still Alice, a movie co-produced by Stony Brook-connected Killer Films, picked up a Golden Globe for Best Lead Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama) in the annual awards ceremony televised Sunday evening.
The honor went to Julianne Moore, who portrays a woman afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease in the prime of her life.
The Dogme95 Avante-Garde Filmmaking Movement Lives On
Lauren Wolkstein Talks Stony Brook Southampton and Killer Films’ 20/20/20 Filmmaking Intensive
Sarah Salovaara talks with Lauren Wolkstein, one of Filmmaker Magazine's 2013 25 New Faces of Film, about the Southampton filmmaking workshop and the significance of pedagogy in filmmaking. Read more at Filmmaker Magazine here.
Todd Haynes Greets Filmmakers at Stony Brook Southampton
Filmmakers participating in the Stony Brook Southampton’s summer shorts 20-day intensive production workshop were given a warm welcome on Monday with an opening discussion with Todd Haynes, the director of “Far from Heaven,” “Velvet Goldmine,” “I’m Not There,” “Mildred Pierce,” “Safe,” and many other original and provocative films.