A handful of filmmakers have earned the right to make whatever film strikes their fancy and not make any apologies for it. Count [movieperson id="75695"]Francis Ford Coppola[/movieperson] in this group. His near-absurd level of productivity in the ’70s alone (two “Godfather” films, “The Conversation,” and “Apocalypse Now”) has ensured his legacy but that hasn’t stopped the septuagenarian from embarking on a new, more personal filmmaking path.
That personal touch began with 2007′s “Youth Without Youth” and continues in the just-released [movie id="338539"]“Tetro,”[/movie] the first original screenplay brought to the screen by Coppola in 35 years. Starring [movieperson id="80217"]Vincent Gallo[/movieperson] and newcomer (and immediate actor-to-watch) [movieperson id="998997"]Alden Ehrenreich[/movieperson], “Tetro” is a sumptuously photographed (mostly in black and white) tale of familial rivalry and dark secrets of the past.
Coppola visited with MTV News to discuss his reawakened passion for moviemaking, his long dormant pet project “Megalopolis,” whether there will ever be another “Godfather” and why he believes George Lucas has a huge cinematic surprise up his sleeve.
MTV: After a long gap between “The Rainmaker” and “Youth Without Youth,” you took less than two years to return with “Tetro.” Have you found a new filmmaking groove?
Francis Ford Coppola: I like to think of this as the second film of my second career. [These films] have different rules. They have to be personal. I have to write the script. They’re all self-financed so we don’t have to get anyone’s permission to cast someone. I am enjoying it.
MTV: Do you have any original scripts left to turn to besides “Megalopolis”?
Coppola: I don’t have any scripts in the drawer except for “Megalopolis.” I’m writing a script now that’s also personal but not personal in this way. It’s personal in that it explores a lot of ideas and feelings I have, and it’s more like a kind of movie that I always wanted to make but never had a chance to.
MTV: What genre is it?
Coppola: I don’t want to give it away. I’ll tell you this — it’ll probably cost twice as much as these last two films. It’s more ambitious from a production level. It will be familiar as a genre but it will be my own personal take of that kind of story.
MTV: Can you categorically say you never will make another “Godfather” film?
Coppola: I don’t own “The Godfather” and I never thought there should be more than one. It wasn’t a serial. For me, the end of the story of “The Godfather” was pretty complete. The problem with these serials is they’ve got to get worse each time you make another one.
MTV: I’m struck by how differently you and your contemporaries, Spielberg and Lucas, have turned out — they’re still making “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars” movies.
Coppola: It’s hard to understand how people get as they get older and they get more set in their life. Also, when you are so centered in the film business, there is a kind of brainwashing where you think there is only one kind of film. You can’t judge other people for what their requirements are in life. Some of them are going to make beautiful personal films. The one that probably has the most potential to shock is George Lucas. I knew him as an experimental filmmaker. Hopefully one of them will make something that changes the rules. I bet you it will happen too.
MTV: Why can’t you take on “Megalopolis” now that the price of effects are presumably cheaper than they once were?
Coppola: I can finance a movie up to a certain point but I can’t lose 80 to 100 million every two years.
MTV: But could the fact that effects might be more affordable now make “Megalopolis” more tenable as a project?
Coppola: Possibly. That film was set in Manhattan and, like an Ayn Rand novel, it was about an architect who builds a city within a city that demonstrates a human style of living that is approaching utopia — where people are doing what they love to do and perfecting their body and mind. What would a city be like that was built around that?
It happened on the eve of a rapid rewind to an old period of hatreds and the waste of our talent and young people on hatred and warfare. To make a film about utopia and modern Manhattan without 9/11 being a part of it, I just didn’t know how to do it.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Tetro.”
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