REEL WOMEN: Christina Varotsis, producer, UPM


Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 Reel Women During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready.

Christina has produced a wide variety of studio and independent projects, music videos and commercials, here in the US as well as abroad, since redirecting her career from marketing to filmmaking over 20 years ago. 

Based in Chicago, Christina’s recent TV productions include the Chicago units for Batwoman, Shameless and Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience for Starz, among others. In addition, she’s produced the pilots for Lovecraft Country for HBO and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams for Sony/Amazon, and the 8 episode limited series Sun Records for Viacom.

Her latest independent project include the dystopian sci-fi thriller Division 19, toplined by Jamie Draven, Linus Roache, Alison Doody, and Clarke Peters and directed by UK helmer S. A. Halewood; and Imperfections, a heist comedy, written and directed by Chicago’s own David Singer and featuring Virginia Kull, Zach McGowan, Ashton Holmes, Ed Begley Jr., Marilu Henner and Chelsey Ross.

When not in production, Christina mentors independent filmmakers and consults for studios in their project development phase in the areas of incentive assessment and budgeting. Her most recent clients include MGM, FX, Paramount, etc.

Christina is president emeritus of the board of directors of the Independent Feature Project/Midwest, where she spent over 10 years striving to provide resources, information and networking opportunities to Midwestern independent filmmakers and industry professionals.

Christina has been guest lecturing throughout the Midwest and beyond and regularly conducts producing and emerging technologies seminars, budgeting and scheduling workshops, and comparative tax incentive presentations. 

Christina is a member of the Producers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America.

What did you originally want to be when you grow up?
Physical Ed teacher…as I was an athlete playing for my city team, high school, college.

How did you get into the film industry?
I always loved film but never thought of it as a career; living overseas it never seemed like a realistic path. Whereas in the US most college and universities have Film/TV Departments, they aren’t (and certainly weren’t) prevalent in other parts of the world. 

One day in 1996…I decided to quit my director of marketing job and give filmmaking a chance. 

Who were your mentors?
My father who always told me to persevere and not owe anything to anyone.

What is your greatest achievement?
Provide support, training and opportunities to young and less young filmmakers to excel in our industry.

What is your biggest disappointment?
The realization that egoism and self-interest rule our world, within our borders and beyond. Care and humanity are a prime concern for the few.

What are your biggest pet peeves? 
Narcissism, selfishness and greed.


What are your predictions for the film industry over the next decade?
We are in the midst of a revolution of sorts in our industry with a prodigious amount of production and a multitude of ways and outlets to watch moving pictures of all kinds (I hate the words content or product). Things will somewhat settle as I can’t imagine the current trends to be sustainable…and I would say that virtual reality might become more than an emerging film trend in the very near feature.

Name a job you had that would surprise people.
I worked once for a “sweat shop” of sort where I was asked to remove no name labels and replace them with high end ones…I did it for a few days and ended up quitting with my whole team.

Who plays you in your life story?
Never given any thought to it.

What do you wish you had more time to do?
Volunteer and help the less fortunate in general. When I have down time I do so at the Greater Chicago Food Depository and animal welfare organizations.

Do you talk to yourself?

What inspires you to be creative?
The world around me here and around the globe. I love to travel and document my encounters (people, places, fauna and flora) via photography.