Local film community mourns Oscar nominee William Vince

William Vince, producer of the 2005 Oscar-winning film Capote, passed away last weekend at his home in West Vancouver at the age of 44, after a hard-fought battle with cancer.

A proud Canadian, Vince was born and raised in Vancouver, and maintained a close relationship with the community. The lifelong hockey fan and talented player never realized his dream of playing in the National Hockey League. Instead, after overcoming severe dyslexia in his childhood, he dedicated his passion and enthusiasm to the world of movies, producing 38 films during his successful career.

Neil Haggquist, executive vice-president of the B.C. branch of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, worked with Vince at the CFTPA and struck up a friendship with him. In an interview with the Georgia Straight on his cellphone, he spoke about the fervour Vince felt for every project.

“Think how rare it is for someone who can have a passion for a game [like hockey], meet the disappointment that so many do, and find an outlet for it,” Haggquist said.

Vince’s thorough understanding of the film business, and especially of its complicated financial structure, amazed Haggquist.

“He had to learn all that and somehow made films of relatively small budgets look even bigger,” Haggquist said. “He was quite extraordinary.”

Vince, still the only Vancouver producer to have made an Oscar-winning film, was instrumental in bringing Capote to United Artists. Indeed, Philip Seymour Hoffman, who played the lead role in the movie, thanked Vince personally while accepting the Academy Award for best actor in 2006.

The news of Vince’s passing resounded with many of the people he had worked with, including Hoffman, who spoke warmly of him in a media release issued by Infinity Features, the Vancouver-based production company of which Vince was founder and president.

“I could talk to Bill. Bill wore his heart on his sleeve, thank God,” Hoffman said. “He was attracted to passion, therefore I was attracted to him. He stood by me and I’ll never forget it. I loved him, loved him”.

Vince took his first steps in the film industry with his brother Robert, collaborating on Samurai Cowboy, Final Round, and Underworld. In the Infinity media release, Robert recalled those moments: “Bill loved a dramatic ending. I preferred happy endings to our films. I only wish I got my way just this one time.”

Pierce Brosnan, who worked with Vince not just as an actor but also as fellow producer on 2007’s Butterfly on a Wheel, also extended his sympathies. “Bill was someone whose company I always enjoyed,” he said in the Infinity release. “I enjoyed his maverick ways, his passion for film and his love of life. I am deeply saddened by his passing.”

Infinity Features prides itself on working with critically acclaimed actors and directors from around the world. Producer Karen Powell, who had finished work this year with Vince on Edison and Leo, a stop-motion animated feature, said Vince was committed to the Vancouver movie industry.

“Bill was a champion of Vancouver filmmakers,” Powell told the Straight by phone. “He was a gifted filmmaker and one of the best people out there.”

Vince is survived by his wife, Cynthia Miles, and three children, Miles, Michaela, and Nathaniel.