Independent Filmmaker Christopher Coppola has made a career both behind, and in-front of the camera. Recently, Christopher's been devoting efforts to his state-of-the-art digital studio, splitting time with offices in Los Angeles and New Mexico. Yours truly caught up with the big man not too long ago to talk life and business.
MM: It's been some time since you last directed a feature length film. Do you have any projects in the works?
CC: I've been spending my time building a cutting edge HD/New Media Studio/Production Company - Christopher R. Coppola Productions/PlasterCity Digital Post. I am developing my project BIKER MACBETH which will be my coup de gras.
MM: DRACULA'S WIDOW was one of your first pictures if I'm not mistaken. Tell me a little bit about your first experience tackling a feature length film.
CC: I went into it as a young Bohemian fresh out of art school. I wanted to make a color film noir, creating contrast by using extreme primary colors and designing my shots from old noir movies as well as the old EC Comics...God's POV, rat's POV, etc.. I wanted to make a horror film with style. In the end, Mr. Delaurantis, the old pirate, demanded that I take plenty of "watermelon" shots. The artist in me was horrified. I didn't like the idea of subjecting an actress to that. I fought him every step of the way. That doesn't make a good movie. Now that I am older, I would've had no problem giving him his "watermelon" shots, I'd even enjoy it actually, to help him sell a a horror film with my artistic sensibilities. The film has its little moments, but it's not what I envisioned at the time.
MM:I know that (aside from full length films) you've done plenty of television. Do you have a preference between the two?
CC: I like both. Making a feature for me as like having your very own circus family getting ready for our special brand of show..an often ridiculous, unpretentious "B" genre film with a message. People have said my productions are very hard, but oddly fun and memorable. Perhaps the "we are all in this circus" mentality is why. Some people have also said someone ought to make a feature about my actual productions because it would be more entertaining than the final movie. Who knows. In regards to television, I love the speed and limitations of directing a show in 4 days. You're forced to think on your toes and that's invigorating. I was allowed to also bring my own cinematic stamp as long as I followed the rules and made my days. In many ways, I did my best work directing television. For the most part, the producers/writers like my slightly askew, very creative interpretations of their script.
MM: I know you've worked with Nicholas Cage on at least one occasion (1993's DEADFALL). What's it like working on a picture with your brother?
CC: Difficult. I was more worried about his comfort level, than the movie and he basically did whatever he wanted. I fought him a couple times about taking off his sunglasses so the audience could see his tortured sad clown eyes which would help explain why he was so over the top (fake nose, hair, etc). He stomped his feet like a bratty little brother, but he took off the glasses in two scenes for me. It didn't really help. Deadfall is my least favorite movie. Never make an ultra low budget movie in 18 days with big name actors...it doesn't work. Oddly, all I enjoy now when I happen to, unfortunately, see the movie somewhere is my brother's whacky performance.
MM: Any chance we'll see the two of you involved in any more projects in the future?
CC: No. We admire each other, but we are two entirely different animals.
MM: At this point, what would you consider your career defining moment?
CC: Mentoring a New Jersey construction worker who was zapped horribly on a skyscrapper in which his eyeballs popped out 3 inches and his entire body was rewired to make a little movie. He lived in his basement like a Frankenstein partly because people were afraid of him and he of them. He loved Charlie Chaplin's little hobo who celebrated the little guy, the people slipping through the cracks. He wanted to make a movie from a poem/drawing he created in honor of Charlie Chaplin. I flew him to New Mexico and helped him make I AM. It changed his life, healed him in many ways. Because of that I created PAH (Project Access Hollywood) which travels the world digitally empowering people to tap into the creative process and tell their stories.
MM: Anything you'd like to say those who follow and support your work?
CC: I feel good about doing something positive for the people, but I am dying to direct a movie again. So stay tuned.