Welcome from Program Director Killer Films' Christine Vachon
Advanced Training in Digital Filmmaking
It’s official. My company Killer Films has joined forces with Stony Brook University to bring to Southampton Arts a new approach to academic instruction in filmmaking.
Focusing on the practical advice and lessons our indie production company has compiled from 25 years in the indie film business, with more than 75 films under our belts and six films produced in 2012 alone, we're offering a new take on instruction in film at 3--4 at State University of New York prices – and at two prime locations, Stony Brook Southampton and Stony Brook Manhattan.
As we set out to devise this new program, our aim quickly became singular: to match the reality of the film business today. Revolutionary change in technology has made filmmaking accessible. Students are coming to film programs with greater literacy in visual storytelling than ever before. At Southampton Arts, we have the luxury of starting at ground zero to envision a new of model for instruction that embraces new platforms for distribution. The approach is a juxtaposition of the big picture and an embrace of the film business, as it exists today, as well as hands-on and experiential, with the emphasis on the production of new work.
This summer, with our 3-part, groundbreaking program, 20/20/20, we pioneered a new paradigm in training the filmmakers of tomorrow to be expert storytellers with the grit and imagination to reach their audiences in “platform-agnostic” ways. In the first of the three weeks, the students went through a producers boot camp, where they heard from a cadre of top professionals in independent film who shared insights about all aspects of the industry through interview-style master classes led by me and my Killer Films partner Pamela Koffler. They also underwent training in the latest in Canon’s movie-making cameras, the C300, instruction in storyboarding, lighting, editing, and production prep. A very intense production week followed, during which we shot 3-4 movies a day for 6 days.
The students directed their own films and crewed on 6 others. They DPed, gaffed, script supervised, schlepped C-stands and kept each other hydrated during a very intense heat wave. During a final week for post production, the students cut their films, attended a screening of Killer Films’ Deep Powder at the Stony Brook Film Festival, and learned about distribution. The intensive accelerated with the screening of student rough cuts for notes sessions with Tony Gerber, Ellen Kuras, Sam Morrill of Vimeo and Ashley Havey of Tribeca Film Festival, and culminated in a gala final screening of their short films for the Southampton Arts Summer Conference.
I was honored that the Stony Brook Film Festival chose me as the recipient of their Career Achievement Award. It’s amazing to get an award like this when we’ve just launched this incredible program, and when it feels like Killer’s fortunes and Stony Brook’s fortunes are really going to be tied together for, I hope, a long time. It’s been an amazing launch and amazing to work with everybody here. Next year, I hope we’re going to be showing at the Stony Brook Film Festival the films that we’ve been making in our Stony Brook/Killer Films program.
In short, the focus of 20/20/20 and of this new graduate program in film is how to make a program that reflects, as closely as possible, the reality of the film business today. How to get a movie made, make it right, get it seen, and live to tell about it—and how to survive to do it all over again. And again. And again. And again. The film industry’s creative and business sectors are at an intersection of unlimited potential and, with our new program, students are offered the opportunity learn how to tap into and exploit the shifting paradigms of filmmaking as it is practiced today.