Francis Ford Coppola, just four days after wrapping his latest picture in Northern California, flew to the Marrakesh International Film Festival to share his knowledge of filmmaking with students at a special discussion at the Palais des Congres. Coppola is a rare talent in Hollywood, even rarer for his ability to create outside of the studio system. Luxist spoke to Coppola at a secluded library deep inside La Mamounia on how he's living his Third Act in life.
In what could be called his Second Act, Coppola was dealt a series of blows in big-budget productions, including a heavy legal battle with Warner Brothers over the rights to Pinocchio, and his abandoned utopian vision "Megalopolis." But it was only by delving into his businesses that he was finally able to find his true calling in cinema.
It was only after becoming incredibly successful through his hotel and wine endeavors that Coppola realized that his path was to write and direct deeply personal films in which he had complete control. "I looked at my daughter and I thought gee I taught her how to make a movie for $2-3 million. I can make a movie for $2-3 million. That's when I went off to Romania, very quietly, and made that first film."
The man who once rightly predicted film will go digital, swears by the new medium. Coppola is able to work under low budgets in order to finance his own films, nothing surpassing $7 million, often by working with new actors, and filming in locations where the exchange rate is favorable to the dollar. "I feel blessed. I mean how many filmmakers are given that blank check to say go make a film every year, two years?" he asked. Not many. And, if he ever finds himself without the means to make a movie, he says he'll use whatever resources he has available, even if it's merely an iPhone camera.
To be in such a position involves a fair amount of risk-taking, but even more so a sense of fearlessness. "I recognize in life from my own family, my own father, that people are obsessed with money and frightened about losing money. And somehow I never had that attitude," he said. "I never hesitated to put up my own money or lose money. And I did lose money. I bought the studio in Hollywood. I spent ages 40-50 paying back the Chase Manhattan bank, a big loan that I owed them. So I don't think you can live your life in fear of whether you're going to have money or whether you're not going to have money."