11 Questions with Christine La Monte
Christine La Monte, BA ‘69, a former film studio marketing executive, is a producer of theatre, television and film. Under the La Monte Productions banner, she has several films in various stages of development, including, “Red Hot Mamas” written by Gary Goldstein; a documentary, “The Other Side of 90,” a film about women in their 90′s which she is also directing; and a film based on the critically acclaimed legal thriller, “Justice Deferred” by Len Williams. Christine will be teaching a workshop entitled: The Independent Film Scene: Producing, Marketing, Film Festivals, Distribution at UBC2C Hollywood.
Q1: What was the last project you added to your resume?DANDELION DHARMA, a 30 minute narrative “epic” short, currently playing the film festival circuit.
Q2: What was your first job in the industry? I had just moved to Boston after living in Japan and Aspen when girlfriends, Michelle Satter (before Redford and Sundance) and Vicky Gordon (before becoming a Producer on 60 Minutes) set me up to meet Freddie Taylor, the owner of HT Productions. After I waited for over an hour and a half to be interviewed, Freddie hired me as Media Coordinator even though I had no idea what a press release was: He said that I had a passion for music and had convinced him during the interview that I could do anything – working as a construction worker on Cher’s condominium in Aspen was a case in point. As Media Coordinator, I did all the marketing – publicity, promotions and advertising – for the various venues that were part of HT Productions: The Jazz Workshop and Paul’s Mall, two internationally-known jazz clubs in Boston; Harvard Square Cinema; and HT Live, which booked and promoted concerts for big name artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Diana Ross and Johnny Cash. What I learned on this job was the basis for the rest of my career in the industry.
Q3: Who were your mentor/s? Freddie Taylor at HT Productions and Kevin Genther at Universal Pictures.
Q4: What did you study while a student at UB? I was a French literature and language major.
Q5: What’s your favorite memory of UB? Foreign film nights on campus. That’s where you would find me on Friday nights, watching YOJIMBO, BLACK ORPHEUS, WILD STRAWBERRIES – all those remarkable films from the ‘50s. Often it would be a double feature – that’s when I was the happiest.
Q6: If you could go back to UB now as a student what course would you take? I’ve always loved foreign languages – I studied Italian and Japanese while living in those countries and still study Italian whenever I can – so I know I would study languages,
but would add more theatre courses. And I would definitely take a Masters in Arts Management. What I didn’t know then, is that business excites me as much as the arts. The combination of business, law and the arts is a perfect background for
anything that you pursue in the arts, and under Director Ruth Bereson, UB has the best Arts Management Program in the country.
Q7: What’s the last book you read? The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by the late Swedish author and journalist, Stieg Larsson. Also just finished reading The Bangkok trilogy by John Burdett and rereading Justice Deferred, by Len Williams – one of the projects that I have in development. All knock-out books!
Q8: What would you be doing if you weren’t working in the entertainment industry? I would own a bookstore in the south of France that had a Japanese tea garden and flower shop attached, or I would be a cellist in a world-class symphony that toured the world.
Q9: What was the smartest career decision you ever made? After working in New York at Disney and Universal for many years, and then New Zealand, where I helped launch the newly formed TV 3 New Zealand, I found myself back in New York City. Shortly after I arrived, I received a call from Charles Glenn, Executive VP of Advertising at Orion Pictures, inviting me to work with him. I told him that the ink was still wet on my new letterhead since I was about to open my own PR company. He said: Tear it up, come to Orion. I did, and ended up as Orion’s Executive Vice President of Marketing – it turned out to be one of the best career moves I ever made. In the two years that followed, Orion moved the company headquarters (and me) to Los Angeles, where I had the most exciting and gratifying time heading up the marketing of two back-to-back award-winning films, DANCES WITH WOLVES and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.
Q10: What would you still like to accomplish career-wise? I have an idea for a trilogy that I’m going to write while living in Rome, and then have published.
Q11: Can you offer any advice for people breaking into the industry?
Yes, try anything, start anywhere – everything you do is a steppingstone to your future career. All these steps help you to understand what you are good at, what you’re not good at – what you feel passionate about, what makes you happy. I especially recommend internships since it’s an easier place to try things on, to make mistakes than in a paid position. And whatever you do, wherever you are, do it with heart – everyone wants that kind of energy on their team.