Gigantic, which saw its world premiere in Toronto recently, represents the first co-production between Epoch Films run by Mindy Goldberg and Killer Films run by Christine Vachon.

Epoch Films is a prosperous 19-year-old commercials production company which was created by Goldberg in 1989 as a place where talented young directors could gain a foothold in the competitive commercials mainstream. Now with offices in New York, Los Angeles and London, the company is a market leader.

But Goldberg is the first to admit she struggled with the idiosyncrasies of the film-production business on her feature debut Junebug, directed by one of Epoch's stable of directors, Phil Morrison, in 2005.

And although the film was a critical success and won an Oscar nomination for actress Amy Adams, Goldberg felt she needed a partner when she was looking to make Gigantic, the directorial debut of another Epoch director, Matt Aselton. 'I felt I was naive as to the inner workings of Hollywood and the world of acquisitions and distribution,' she explains.

It was natural, perhaps, that she turned to Vachon, one of the world's most prolific producers of independent films. Vachon liked the project and committed to it two years ago.

She has plenty of experience bringing top-drawer casts and finance to projects from first-time film-makers, having produced the first features from Todd Haynes, Kimberly Peirce, Tom Kalin, Michael Mayer, Mary Harron and others.

When Paul Dano committed to star in Gigantic in a limited window in his schedule in March this year, Vachon and Goldberg made sure the financing and production elements were in place to accommodate the actor's availability.

The film, which cost less than $7m to produce, had, say the two producers, 'some financing hiccups' but was ultimately backed by private equity sources.

'Because of the strike, we were able to get some great crew and actors,' explains Vachon of the production which also stars Zooey Deschanel, John Goodman and Ed Asner. Goldberg says that, while Gigantic may carry financial risks, it was a smooth shoot. 'The creative process on this film was about as good as you can get,' adds Vachon.

Fortissimo Films has international sales rights, and Cinetic Media is handling the domestic deal on Gigantic.

Meanwhile Epoch is moving on with the next two pictures from Morrison and another Aselton script, Pistolero, while the typically busy Killer is in post on Sam Mendes' Rufus Wainwright documentary, Jordan Scott's Cracks, Katherine Dieckmann's Motherhood and Ruba Nadda's Cairo Time with Patricia Clarkson.