Vancouver producer of Oscar-winning film dies
William Vince was an integral part of local film scene
Yvonne Zacharias, Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, June 23, 2008
VANCOUVER - William Vince, producer of the Oscar-award winning movie Capote
starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, died on Saturday at his home in West
Vancouver after a battle with cancer.
Vince, who was 44, was a well-known and respected figure not only in
Vancouver filmmaking circles but in Hollywood as well. He is widely
recognized as the only Vancouver producer to have made an Oscar-winning
movie. The producer holds the financial reins and the power in the making of
The West Vancouver native launched the local film production company
Infinity Features about eight years ago. Its most notable achievement was
the making of Capote which garnered five Oscar nominations, including one
for best picture, and an Oscar win for Hoffman as best actor.
Vince was on the ground floor of the Vancouver filmmaking scene, a man who
was instrumental in lifting it by the bootstraps from being a cinematic
non-entity to a creative centre for the filmmaking arts.
Said Infinity producer and close associate Robert Merilees, "Bill Vince was
the most generous person I have met, with his time, his talent and his
knowledge of the business. He was an amazing partner and a loyal friend. All
of us here at Infinity loved him dearly and will miss him terribly."
Vince was also an enigmatic figure, a man not given to small talk but one
who had an eye for recognizing potential in movies that others couldn't
Capote was a case in point. Hoffman, director Bennett Miller and producer
Caroline Baron had spent a year and a half trying to get the movie financed
before they found Vince and formed a partnership with Infinity Features and
Los Angeles associate Michael Ohoven of Infinity Media.
Vince brought Capote to United Artists, which had previously passed on it.
"That movie, without a doubt, would never have been made without Bill," said
his brother Robert. He noted that when Hoffman accepted the Academy Award,
he singled one person out for a thank-you. That person was William Vince.
"He was a bright light," said his brother Robert. "Sometimes bright lights
don't burn too long."
On the eve of the Oscar win, Vince sat down for lunch with Hollywood
royalty, right between Steven Spielberg and George Clooney. It was a measure
of just how far he had come from an unpromising start in life.
From childhood, he suffered from severe dyslexia. Vince never finished high
school, but with the help of a private tutor and his very supportive mother,
he learned to read and write.
Robert Vince said his brother's severe dyslexia gave him incredible
compassion for people facing adversity. It is perhaps no accident that as
one of the last crowning achievements, he turned the rundown Golden Harvest
Movie Theatre in an unsightly part of Main Street, an area hovering on the
Downtown Eastside, into a jewel of a boutique theatre for private
screenings, lending the perilous stretch a touch of panache and credibility.
After pumping $2 million worth of renovations into it, the theatre features
red leather club chairs, many with foot stools, a private bar and a
high-tech screen and sound system.
"This was very representative of who he was," said Robert Vince. "Only he
would take this on."
Vince often credited his dyslexia for having developed a finely tuned sense
of intuition and discipline. The world, he once explained in a feature
length interview with Vancouver Lifestyles magazine, is not made for
dyslexics. "You grow up being disappointed and embarrassed often so your
protection goes up."
A talented hockey player, Vince played three seasons with the Western Hockey
League, spending his last year with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Longtime
friend and fellow filmmaker Tony Pantages said Vince was on track for a
career in the NHL but his knees blew out before the draft. "Bill was one of
those super tough, sweet-as-pie hockey players who was up at 3 a.m. for
hockey practice." He remained an active mentor as a hockey coach after
abandoning dreams of a career in the NHL.
He wasn't planning on a film career but fell into it through his brother
Robert. The two worked for 10 years for Keystone Pictures. Following the
Airbud (Disney's golden retriever) movies, Vince launched Infinity Features.
In addition to Capote, Infinity produced Saved!, The Snow Walker and the
box-office comedy Just Friends.
Vince was diagnosed with sarcoma about a year and a half ago but the matter
was kept private. It began in his leg and spread from there. Robert Vince
said his brother battled the cancer with great courage well past the point
where most people would have given up. While in treatment, he completed
three full-length feature films - Push, Stone of Destiny and Terry Gilliam's
adventure fantasy The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, starring the late Heath
Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Verne Troyer, Lily Cole, Andrew
Garfield, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law. He wanted to win his
battle against cancer for his children. He always believed he would be the
one to beat insurmountable odds. "While Bill never gave up, his physical
body could not continue," said a news release announcing his death.
Pantages described Vince as "one of the most determined men I ever knew. He
worked harder than anyone I ever knew."
Added Pantages, "He was one of the rare people in the world who believed in
others and because of his determination, he was able to realize the dreams
Pantages said Vince passed away far too young but he achieved more than most
people could hope to achieve in a lifetime. He said Capote, which had a
budget of $7.5 million, was groundbreaking in that it was the first film
with a budget of under $10 million to score such major Academy Award winning
He is survived by his wife, Cynthia Miles, and his three children, Miles,
Michaela and Nathanial who range in age from 11 to 15. He was predeceased by
his mother, Elizabeth Anne Larland Vince, but is survived by his father
Dennis Vince, his brother Robert and his sisters, Pauline Gibson, Lyn Vince
and Janet Richard as well as many nieces and nephews.
His family would like to thank Dr. Richard Gray and Dr. Chris Beauchamp at
the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale; Dr. Paul Klimo and nurse Pat Macdonald as well
as Dr. Paul Sugar of the Lions Gate Hospital and home care nurse Jesse
Donations may be made in Vince's name to fund an annual scholarship to be
awarded to an aspiring young film producer that has overcome adversity in
their life. They can be sent care of Debra Thomas, The Canada Trust Company,
P.O. Box 10083, Vancouver, B.C. V7Y 1BC.
> Vince was on the ground floor of the Vancouver filmmaking
> scene, a man who
> was instrumental in lifting it by the bootstraps from
> being a cinematic
> non-entity to a creative centre for the filmmaking arts.
Such tortured metaphor-mixing. He deserved better.