You can say that Coppola's something of a burned out volcano these days. We'll pass over the Louis Vuitton ads in silence. But few other directors have ever achieved the levels he did with Apocalypse Now, the Godfathers I and II or, to a lesser degree, The Conversation.
So when he talks, I listen. You can read a full interview with him at The 99 percent. Some key moments:
And more:What is the one thing to keep in mind when making a film?
When you make a movie, always try to discover what the theme of the movie is in one or two words. Every time I made a film, I always knew what I thought the theme was, the core, in one word. In “The Godfather,” it was succession. In “The Conversation,” it was privacy. In “Apocalypse,” it was morality.
The reason it’s important to have this is because most of the time what a director really does is make decisions. All day long: Do you want it to be long hair or short hair? Do you want a dress or pants? Do you want a beard or no beard? There are many times when you don’t know the answer. Knowing what the theme is always helps you.I remember in “The Conversation,” they brought all these coats to me, and they said: Do you want him to look like a detective, Humphrey Bogart? Do you want him to look like a blah blah blah. I didn’t know, and said the theme is ‘privacy’ and chose the plastic coat you could see through. So knowing the theme helps you make a decision when you’re not sure which way to go.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given to your children, inside and outside of the industry?
Always make your work be personal.
And, you never have to lie. If you lie, you will only trip yourself up. You will always get caught in a lie. It is very important for an artist not to lie, and most important is not to lie to yourself. There are some questions that are inappropriate to ask, and rather than lie, I will not answer them because it’s not a question I accept. So many times we are asked things in our work or in life that you want to lie, and all you have to do is say, “No, that is an improper question.”
So when you get into a habit of not lying when you are writing, directing, or making a film, that will carry your personal conviction into your work. And, in a society where you say you are very free but you’re not entirely free, you have to try. There is something we know that’s connected with beauty and truth. There is something ancient. We know that art is about beauty, and therefore it has to be about truth.
You now have all the resources to do your own production, writing, directing. What’s the biggest barrier to being an artist?
Self-confidence always. The artist always battles his own/her own feeling of inadequacy.
Read the full interview