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MFA in Film

Film Program - Press Coverage

2017

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.

Read the story in Happenings

 

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.

Read a summary in Happenings

 

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.

Read more in the Whitefish Pilot

 

2016

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. 

Read more in The East Hampton Star

 

'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.

Read more in The Southampton Press

 

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.

Read more in Interview here.

 

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.

Read more in Stony Brook University's Happenings.

 

Christine Vachon Wins Special Teddy Award at 2016 Berlin Film Festival

christine vachon teddyChristine 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.

Read more in Stony Brook University's Happenings.

 

Two FIlms Edited by Jeanne Applegate Featured at Sundance

jeanne applegateFormer 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 brislinDarcy 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.

 

Four Killer Films Features Making Waves at Sundance

killer films wiener-dogMFA 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)

 

Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler Give Keynote Producer's Lunch at Sundance

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.

Details are at IndieWire

 

2015

Watch How to Create a Killer Resume, the Web Series Created by MFA in FIlm Students

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.

 

The Wrap: Christine Vachon, Todd Haynes Look to Break Oscar Barrier with Carol

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. 

 

Christine Vachon Interviews FIlmmaker Effie Brown

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.

Read more at Variety, Indiewire, The Hollywood Reporter and The East Hampton Star.

 

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) runs an MFA program at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where Vachon urges students to banish the word "filmmaker" from their vocabularies. "We have to call ourselves storytellers, content-makers," she says, echoing a central talking point from her South by Southwest
keynote talk in March. "If you want to go into the business today, you have to be prepared to make your stories work on all different kinds of platforms."


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.

 

Exclusive Video: Todd Haynes Shares Tips for First-Time Filmmakers

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. 

WATCH THE VIDEO >

 

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 business.

Killer Films' 'Carol' Named to 2015 Cannes Film Festival Lineup

'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.

 

Julianne Moore Oscar Nod a Box Office Boon Says 'Still Alice' Producer

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.

Read the full story here.

 

In 'Still Alice,' Director Couple Tells A Story That Mirrors Their Own

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.

 

Berlin: ‘Nasty Baby’ Takes Teddy Award, ‘My Skinny Sister’ Picks Up Kplus Prize

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.

 

Alexandra Stergiou Has Video Featured on This American Life

Fstergiouormer 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)

 

PBS NewsHour interviews Christine Vachon in report from the Sundance Film Festival

Christine Vachon is featured in a report by Jeffrey Brown on what an indie movie deal means in the age of on-demand.

 

Deadline Talks with Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler About 20 Years in Indie Films

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."

Read the complete story HERE.

 

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.

Read more at Shriver's blog here.

 

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

Read more here.

Three Stony Brook University film students were credited participants in the full-length film Still Alicenominated 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 - See more at: http://sb.cc.stonybrook.edu/news/general/2015-01-15-still-alice-release.php#sthash.OvieauAb.dpuf

 

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.

Killer Films was co-founded by legendary producer and indie film powerhouse Christine Vachon, a Stony Brook faculty member who directs the graduate film program at Stony Brook Southampton.

Read more at Happenings HERE.

 

2014


The Dogme95 Avante-Garde Filmmaking Movement Lives On

The Dogme95 avante-garde filmmaking movement is alive again at Southampton Arts thanks to Stony Brook/Killer Films. Read more in the East Hampton Star and at 27 East.com

 

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.

Read the complete story at the East Hampton Star here.