Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente take a break at their Tribeca home.
“Much to our children’s chagrin, my wife and I talk shop no matter how much we try not to,” says Jason Kliot, the Oscar-nominated producer of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Hardly surprising since he’s married to Joana Vicente, an independent movie producer and his collaborator on more than 45 films, including Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes and Brian De Palma’s Redacted, which won the Silver Lion at the 2007 Venice Film Festival.
But now there will be even more to talk about as Vicente readies a groundbreaking new project—the Made in NY Media Center scheduled to open in Dumbo this summer. This collaboration hub will be a first for New York—the city’s only incubator serving creatives in a broad range of media including film, advertising, new media, and gaming. “We want to support stories whether they’re being told in traditional media or developed through an app or a game,” explains Vicente, the executive director of the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), the group that will develop and operate the hub.
Kliot says the center couldn’t have come at a better time for film entrepreneurs who work across platforms as he does. “I’m about to start a new venture that lies somewhere between the magazine, film, web, and app world,” he says. “I’m incredibly excited about [the center], which I think is the perfect incubator for what I’m going to be creating."
The couple met through veteran filmmaker Vasco Pimentel in Portugal, where Kliot was working on a project. Before they met, Kliot had seen Vicente in the closing scene in one of his favorite movies—In the White City. (She had been a production assistant, and the director had asked her to act on the final day of shooting.) The attraction was instant, and Kliot proposed three weeks later.
Their work collaborations started modestly, with public service announcements for Michael Stipe and Jim McKay’s Direct Effect project. From there it grew to music videos, short films, then features, beginning with Welcome to the Dollhouse, which won a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Even with Vicente’s involvement with the center, she and Kliot will continue their film work with Open City Films, their production company. Several projects are in the works, including one with documentarian Sarah Kernochan, an Oscar winner who wrote Nine 1/2 Weeks. Says Kliot of their company, named in homage to the Roberto Rossellini film Rome, Open City, “Rossellini took to the streets and used actors and nonactors and natural light to tell his stories. He revolutionized filmmaking in the process.” Considering the couple’s career trajectory, the title that Vicente chose makes perfect sense. As she points out, “We’re always attracted to working with people who are mavericks and innovators.”
photography by evan sung. hair and makeup by Lindsey Will iams at artists by timothy priano. kliot’s wardrobe, his own. on vicente: doe double weave cotton silk dress ($2,095) and black leather pumps ($895), calvin klein collection. 654 Madison Ave., 212-292-9000