Francis Ford Coppola, American film director, producer and screenwriter the world fell in love with for his directorial hit of “Godfather” and “Godfather 2,” has been experimenting with the form of cinema for many years. To Coppola the idea of Live Cinema is the best of moviemaking, television and theater because it is an in-the-moment immediacy of live performance. Today Coppola has launched an ambitious “Distant Vision” project as a “live cinema” experiment at his alma mater, the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. American Zoetrope is Francis Ford Coppola's and co-founder George Lucas's privately owned American film studio centred in San Francisco. American Zoetrope produced four films that are included in the American Film Institute's Top 100 Films. Company's films received 15 Academy Awards and 68 nominations. Legendary film director Francis Ford Coppola talks to us on his live cinema experiments, his challenges and the greatest hope for the future.
Joliegazette: Could you give us an insight into the creative process behind American Zoetrope?
Coppola: The concept was to assemble a group of like-minded filmmakers and focus on making personal, (not industry) films.
Joliegazette: How did you envision the emergence of a new art Live Cinema concept? Is this something similar to 4-D films or completely different? Did you get inspired by the sports, live music events and production on television of a “live event”?
Coppola: To explore the creation of cinema and works using cinematic language (i.e. focused on the 'shot', but still enabling performance to be 'live'.
Joliegazette: Do you think Netflix will be the company that could produce Live Cinema films or do you want to make your own studios and theaters like The Uptown Theater?
Coppola: Seems to me that live cinema could be made available throughout the world at both theaters and in home venues, etc.
Joliegazette: What was the process like writing the screenplay of "Distant Vision"?
Coppola: No different than writing screenplays or cinema plays.
Joliegazette: Could you share with our readers about your mobile technical facility ,"the Silverfish"?
Coppola: The Silverfish is a mobile video facility built for 'one from the heart containing all necessary technology, video board, editorial etc to mount a production.
Joliegazette: Do you want to make more workshops around the world similar of what you did at UCLA?
Coppola: Not sure. Now I am writing a short book (manual) entitled 'Live Cinema and its techniques' based on what I learned during the two workshops and next I will focus on the writing of the piece.
Joliegazette: What are your challenges?
Coppola: To figure out a good basis to go forward in what I am doing and to continue to learn.
Joliegazette: What role does music play in your filmmaking philosophy process?
Coppola: Music of course is a powerful ally in dramatic work as it is in Opera or Music Drama.
Joliegazette: What advice can you share with the world on the importance of empowering others to reach one’s full potential? How do you empower others in your daily life?
Coppola: LearN to trust one's own instincts and cultivate them even while young. I never saw a painting of a two year old that wasn't beautiful yet by the time they are twelve that natural talent is compromised. Try to maintain a relationship with one's child-self.
Joliegazette: Would you describe yourself as a spiritual person?
Coppola: Yes, in that everywhere I look I see beauty, creativity and love. That must be the creative spirit and it is within all of us.
Joliegazette: What is your message to entrepreneurs who struggle to launch their ideas?
Coppola: Don't be afraid of risk.
Joliegazette: What is your regular day like Mr. Coppola?
Coppola: Answering questions like these and trying to do the things I love in between what is asked of me.
Joliegazette: What are your hobbies?
Coppola: Reading. Watching little children.
Joliegazette: Who are your top three living thought leaders?
Coppola: Let me think about that.
Joliegazette: What is your greatest hope for the future?
Coppola: The our race will grow up and spend its time enjoying each other; being involved in creative activities and celebrating.
Joliegazette: What is next for Francis Ford Coppola?
Coppola: I have no idea.
Joliegazette: How would you like to be remembered?
Coppola: As a man who loved little children.
Interview by Carolina Rodríguez Hernandez for Joliegazette. Photo courtesy Francis Ford Coppola.