Family & Companions
A prime mover in the increasingly established "new wave" of gay independent filmmaking, Vachon gained notice by producing two highly stylized and ambitious features: Todd Haynes' "Poison" (1990) and Tom Kalin's "Swoon" (1992). She has built a reputation for nurturing film projects that deal with American gay life as well as for working with first-time filmmakers from other media. One of the founders (with fellow Brown University alums Haynes and Barry Ellsworth) of Apparatus Productions in 1987, Vachon produced seven short films in five years. The most notorious of these was the first, Haynes' experimental biopic "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story" (1987), which details the meteoric rise and tragic fall of the anorexic pop star using Barbie dolls.
After graduating from college, Vachon returned to NYC, where she had been raised, and found work in various production capacities on low-budget independent features. She was a production assistant on Bette Gordon's "Variety" (1983) and assistant editor on Bill Sherwood's "Parting Glances" (1986). Vachon also wrote and directed her own "personal" shorts, "A Man in Your Room" (1984), "Days Are Numbered" (1986). To make ends meet while pursuing her muse, Vachon also found work on some cheapie horror flicks.
Her career took off with Apparatus, a non-profit, grant-giving organization which funded new independent filmmaker, through which she produced shorts dealing with gay themes, women's issues and African-American life. Two 1990 shorts were in the latter category: the provocatively titled "Oreos With Attitude" wherein a NYC "buppie" couple adopt a white child to promote racial harmony; and "Anemone Me," a gay interracial love story set in Maine about a blind black bodybuilder and a white "mer-boy," which marked the directorial debut of playwright Suzan-Lori Parks.
Vachon produced and served as assistant director on Haynes' acclaimed debut feature "Poison" which told three disconnected stories in wildly different styles. She reteamed with Haynes to produce his award-winning short "Dottie Gets Spanked" (1993). Set in the 1950s, the experimental film told about a six-year-old boy obsessed with a Lucille Ball-like sitcom star and wary of his real-life authoritarian father. The creative pair ventured closer to the mainstream with the elegantly stylized "Safe" (1995), starring Julianne Moore as an affluent suburban housewife stricken with an environmental illness that causes extreme allergic reactions to everyday chemicals.
"Swoon," Vachon's first collaboration with producer-director Tom Kalin received some criticism from the gay press for its highly styled presentation of the crime, trial and punishment of Leopold and Loeb, the wealthy, Jewish, homosexual pair who murdered a 14-year-old. They were represented by celebrated attorney Clarence Darrow who used their "difference" as mitigating circumstances to save them from capital punishment. Vachon has fended off criticism for working primarily with gay white male filmmakers rather than women, lesbians and people of color. She quieted some of these qualms as the executive producer of Rose Troche's "Go Fish" (1994), a delightful racially-integrated comedy of manners involving a group of young lesbians living in Chicago. Vachon also produced "I Shot Andy Warhol" (1996), documentarian-journalist Mary Harron's feature directorial debut, which featured an acclaimed performance by Lili Taylor as the crazed radical feminist and Warhol Factory fringe figure Valerie Solanas.
Vachon also courted controversy as the co-producer of photographer-turned- filmmaker Larry Clark's "Kids" (1995), a supposedly realistic depiction of the sexual habits of a group of middle-class Manhattan teens. She also endured complaints that her production of the late Nigel Finch's "Stonewall" (1996)--loosely based on historian Martin Duberman's nonfiction chronicle--fictionalized the events and people central to the historic 1969 uprising in NYC's Greenwich Village that heralded the birth of the modern gay liberation movement. This peculiarly American story was wholly funded by the BBC after Vachon failed to find interested backers stateside.
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Producer (TV Mini-Series)
First feature credit, production assistant on Bette Gordon's "Variety"
Returned to New York City after college
Wrote and directed first short, "A Man in Your Room"
Wrote and directed a short entitled "Days Are Numbered"
Producing debut, Todd Haynes' "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story"; first collaboration with writer-director Haynes
Started Apparatus Productions with Todd Haynes and Barry Ellsworth
Produced "Poison," Todd Haynes' controversial directorial debut (also served as assistant director)
Served as an assistant director on Chilean surrealist filmmaker Raul Ruiz's "The Golden Boat"
Produced "Anemone Me," an experimental fantasy short that marked the directorial debut of playwright Suzan-Lori Parks
Produced Tom Kalin's "Swoon" (also assistant director)
Formed Killer Films with Pamela Koffler and Katie Roumel
Served a co-producer on "Kids," the controversial, high-profile directorial debut of photographer Larry Clark
Killer Films signed to two-year, first-look deal at Goldwyn Films (a division of MGM)
Produced the award winning film, "Boys Don't Cry"
Produced "Far from Heaven," directed by Todd Haynes
Produced "A Home at the End of the World," based on the 1990 novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Michael Cunningham
Produced "Infamous," a biographical film drama about Truman Capote
Co-produced the Todd Haynes directed "I'm Not There," about the life of Bob Dylan; earned an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best Feature