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Francis Ford Coppola Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (6) | Trivia (59) | Personal Quotes (74) | Salary (5)

Overview (2)

Date of Birth 7 April 1939Detroit, Michigan, USA
Height 5' 10½" (1.79 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Francis Ford Coppola was born in 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up in a New York suburb in a creative, supportive Italian-American family. His father, Carmine Coppola, was a composer and musician. His mother, Italia Coppola (née Pennino), had been an actress. Francis Ford Coppola graduated with a degree in drama from Hofstra University, and did graduate work at UCLA in filmmaking. He was training as assistant with filmmaker Roger Corman, working in such capacities as sound-man, dialogue director, associate producer and, eventually, director of Dementia 13 (1963), Coppola's first feature film. During the next four years, Coppola was involved in a variety of script collaborations, including writing an adaptation of "This Property is Condemned" by Tennessee Williams (with Fred Coe and Edith Sommer), and screenplays for Is Paris Burning? (1966) and Patton (1970), the film for which Coppola won a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. In 1966, Coppola's 2nd film brought him critical acclaim and a Master of Fine Arts degree. In 1969, Coppola and George Lucas established American Zoetrope, an independent film production company based in San Francisco. The company's first project was THX 1138 (1971), produced by Coppola and directed by Lucas. Coppola also produced the second film that Lucas directed, American Graffiti (1973), in 1973. This movie got five Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. In 1971, Coppola's film The Godfather (1972) became one of the highest-grossing movies in history and brought him an Oscar for writing the screenplay with Mario Puzo The film was a Best Picture Academy Award-winner, and also brought Coppola a Best Director Oscar nomination. Following his work on the screenplay for The Great Gatsby (1974), Coppola's next film was The Conversation (1974), which was honored with the Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and brought Coppola Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominations. Also released that year, The Godfather: Part II (1974), rivaled the success of The Godfather (1972), and won six Academy Awards, bringing Coppola Oscars as a producer, director and writer. Coppola then began work on his most ambitious film, Apocalypse Now (1979), a Vietnam War epic that was inspired by Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1993). Released in 1979, the acclaimed film won a Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and two Academy Awards. Also that year, Coppola executive produced the hit The Black Stallion (1979). With George Lucas, Coppola executive produced Kagemusha (1980), directed by Akira Kurosawa, and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), directed by Paul Schrader and based on the life and writings of Yukio Mishima. Coppola also executive produced such films as The Escape Artist (1982), Hammett (1982) The Black Stallion Returns (1983), Barfly (1987), Wind (1992), The Secret Garden (1993), etc.

He helped to make a star of his nephew, Nicolas Cage. Personal tragedy hit in 1986 when his son Gio died in a boating accident. Francis Ford Coppola is one of America's most erratic, energetic and controversial filmmakers.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Kornel Osvart <osvart@iname.com>

Spouse (1)

Eleanor Coppola (2 February 1963 - present) (3 children)

Trade Mark (6)

Often casts his own real-life extended family members in his films. In the case of the Godfather films, their characters' relationships to "Michael Corleone" often paralleled their real-life relationship to Coppola. He cast his sister, Talia Shire, as Michael's sister Connie, and his daughter, Sofia Coppola, as Michael's daughter Mary - named for Coppola's other daughter. In addition, Diane Keaton said that she modeled her performance as Kay Adams after Elanor Coppola, since both Kay and Coppola are protestants who married into Italian Catholic families.
Includes the original author's name in the title of his adaptations (i.e., Mario Puzo's The Godfather (1972), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)).
Releases re-edited versions of his work years later (e.g., The Godfather (1972) and Apocalypse Now (1979)).
Often works with cinematographer Gordon Willis and producers Fred Roos and Gray Frederickson.
Beard

Trivia (59)

Caught polio when he was a child. During his quarantine, he practiced puppetry.
Some sources say he is the uncle of Alan Coppola, but Alan's name does not appear on any family tree authorized by the Coppola family.
Like Martin Scorsese, Coppola was a sickly youth, a case of polio which allowed him time to indulge in puppet theater and home movies.
Middle brother of Talia Shire and August Coppola.
Son of composer Carmine Coppola and Italia Coppola.
Received an M.F.A. in Film Production from the University of California in Los Angeles (1967).
Since 1978, owner and operator of a Rutherford, California vineyard making Rubicon wine.
Coppola began his winery enterprise by buying portion of historic Inglenook estate in 1975. His success in field is explored in book "A Sense of Place" by Steven Kolpan, 1999.
Brother-in-law of Bill Neil.
Was in the early stages of developing a script for a fourth Godfather film with Mario Puzo which was to tell the story of the early lives of Sonny, Fredo and Michael. After Puzo's death in July of 1999, Coppola abandoned the project, stating that he couldn't do it without his friend.
As of May 2002, the number of Coppola-family members appearing in or contributing to filmmaking stands at thirteen, spread over three generations.
Francis Ford Coppola has been in competition with Bob Fosse on several occasions. In 1972, Coppola was nominated for the Best Director Oscar (The Godfather (1972)), but lost to Fosse (Cabaret (1972)). In 1974, Fosse was nominated for Best Director (Lenny (1974)) but lost to Coppola (The Godfather: Part II (1974)). In 1979, both were nominated as directors (Apocalypse Now (1979) and All That Jazz (1979)), but both lost. When Fosse won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival (Coppola won the previous year), he tied with Akira Kurosawa, whose movie was produced by George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola.
Grandfather of Gia Coppola. Great-uncle of Weston Cage.
Has released his own line of specialty foods.
As a child, his bedroom was covered with pictures of his favourite film star, Jane Powell. When he discovered she'd married Geary Anthony Steffen, Jr., he tore them all down.
His wife arranged for him to meet Jane Powell as a 40th birthday present.
Out of all his peers who rose to fame and power in the 1970s "Golden Age" era, he is perhaps the only filmmaker still married to his first wife.
Made a commercial for Suntory whiskey with legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa in the 1970s, an event which later influenced a salient plot point in his daughter Sofia's movie, Lost in Translation (2003).
Was voted the 21st Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945- 1985". Pages 227-234. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
George Lucas said that he based the "Han Solo" character from the Star Wars trilogy on Coppola.
Serves as the Honorary Ambassador of the Central American nation of Belize in San Francisco, California, USA. On their official roster of worldwide honorary consulates found on their official website, he is referred to as "His Excellency Ambassador Francis Ford Coppola," although he is not a Belizean citizen.
In 1971 and 1973, George C. Scott and Marlon Brando refused their respective Best Actor awards for Patton (1970) and The Godfather (1972) - both written by Coppola.
Four of his relatives have been involved in the Star Wars films of his friend George Lucas. His brother-in-law, Bill Neil, worked at Industrial Light and Magic during the production of the original trilogy. His daughter, Sophia, and son, Roman, played a handmaiden and Naboo guard, respectively, in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999). His nephew, Christopher Neil, who worked as a dialogue coach for both Francis (on Jack (1996) and The Rainmaker (1997) and Sophia (on The Virgin Suicides (1999)), did the same job on Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)--a job for which Coppola recommended him. In addition, his late older son was named Gian-Carlo. In Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), there is a Naboo vehicle called the Gian Speeder.
Directed 12 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Geraldine Page, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Robert De Niro, Michael V. Gazzo, Lee Strasberg, Talia Shire, Kathleen Turner, Andy Garcia and Martin Landau. Brando and De Niro won their Oscar for their performances as Vito Corleone.
In 1975, he accepted the Oscar for "Best Actor in a Supporting Role" on behalf of Robert De Niro, who wasn't present at the awards ceremony. De Niro won for his performance in Coppola's The Godfather: Part II (1974).
The only person to direct a sibling in an Oscar-nominated performance (his sister Talia Shire was nominated as "Best Actress in a Supporting Role" for The Godfather: Part II (1974))
President of the jury at the 49th Cannes International Film Festival in 1996.
He is among an elite group of seven directors who have won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay (Original/Adapted) for the same film. In 1975 he won all three for The Godfather: Part II (1974). The others are Leo McCarey, Billy Wilder, James L. Brooks, Peter Jackson Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu.
Co-owns the Rubicon restaurant in San Francisco with Robert De Niro and fellow Bay area resident Robin Williams.
Was involved in both movies that his father, Carmine Coppola, and his daughter, Sofia Coppola, won Oscars: he was the director of The Godfather: Part II (1974), which won his father an Oscar for "Best Music, Original Dramatic Score", and he was the executive producer of Lost in Translation (2003), which won his daughter the Oscar for "Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen".
There are three generations of Oscar winners in the Coppola family: Francis, his father Carmine Coppola, his nephew Nicolas Cage and his daughter Sofia Coppola. They are the second family to do so, the first family is the Hustons - Anjelica Huston, John Huston and Walter Huston.
Since the mid-90s (and possibly even earlier), he has been writing and re- writing an original screenplay entitled "Megalopolis". Described as "one man's quest to build utopia set in modern-day New York following a major disaster," the project has been delayed due to Coppola's constant tinkering with the script and the fact that the director is attempting to finance it himself. He admitted to taking on studio films such as Jack (1996) and The Rainmaker (1997) in order to make this happen. Several A-list actors have had their names attached to it and a great excess of second-unit footage (shot in 24p HD) has been captured by Coppola and the film's cinematographer, Ron Fricke of Baraka (1992) fame. However, the terrorist attacks on New York on September 11th 2001 made the movie's subject matter too sensitive, and the project was shelved indefinitely, although Coppola hasn't fully ruled it out.
Currently owns 2 resorts in Belize and 1 in Guatemala. They are the Blancaneaux Lodge in the Pine Ridge Region, Turtle Inn in Placencia and La Lancha near Tikal in Guatemala.
He, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg presented Martin Scorsese with his first ever Oscar for Best Director for The Departed (2006). All four directors were part of the "New Hollywood" movement in the 60s and 70s.
Was named after his grandfather Francesco Pennino.
Briefly attended the New York Military Academy where Troy Donahue was his classmate...until Coppola decided to drop out early on, so he called a taxi and left school. He and Donahue later worked together on The Godfather: Part II (1974).
His middle name was given to him to honor Henry Ford. Francis was born at the "Henry Ford" Hospital in Detroit; Francis's father participated in a music show that Henry Ford really liked and they, in fact, met. So the middle name Ford was to honor Henry Ford himself. (Source: Francis Ford Coppola, "Inside the Actor's Studio").
As a hold-over from his days directing theater when he was young, he always engages his cast in a lengthy rehearsal period before filming. Occasionally, he finds film actors that are not used to this will bristle against the process.
In 1986 his 22-year-old son, Gian-Carlo, died in a boating accident.
Favorite movies from his own personal filmography: The Rain People (1969), The Conversation (1974), Apocalypse Now (1979), Rumble Fish (1983) and Youth Without Youth (2007).
Is a big fan of actress Diane Lane and has cast her in no less than 4 films, The Outsiders (1983), Rumble Fish (1983), The Cotton Club (1984) and Jack (1996).
Won five Oscars in four years - one in 1971 for Patton (1970), one in 1973 for The Godfather (1972), and three in 1975 for The Godfather: Part II (1974).
Has an IQ of 117.
His first two Oscar-winning screenplays were for Patton (1970) and The Godfather (1972), both movies also won for Best Actor. In both of these films, both leading actors - George C. Scott and Marlon Brando, respectively - turned down their awards (although it was the second Oscar which Brando won).
Is the only director to direct two actors in Oscar-winning performances in the same role: Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972), and Robert De Niro in The Godfather: Part II (1974). Since that time, only two other actors have been nominated for roles in which a previous actor already won an Oscar: José Ferrer and Gérard Depardieu as Cyrano de Bergerac, and John Wayne and Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn.
Three of the movies he co-wrote have a minor, but significant, character who acts arrogantly and tough towards those around him: General George S. Patton from Patton (1970) (portrayed by veteran actor, George C. Scott), Captain McCluskey from The Godfather (1972) (portrayed by veteran actor, Sterling Hayden) and Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore from Apocalypse Now (1979) (portrayed by veteran actor, Robert Duvall). Scott won the Oscar for his role and Duvall was nominated. Hayden received neither. Further, neither demise is shown of Patton or Kilgore, yet McCluskey's demise was shown.
Was plagued with demeaning nicknames in his childhood, such as "Ichabod" in military school, which was also one of 24 schools he attended before he entered college.
Says his greatest directorial influence is Elia Kazan.
One of seven directors to have won the Palme d'Or twice at the Cannes Film Festival, the others being Bille August, Alf Sjöberg, Emir Kusturica, Shôhei Imamura, Luc Dardenne & Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Michael Haneke.
He visited Buenos Aires, Argentina, making castings with Argentine actors and looking for locations for his film Tetro (2009). [June 2007]
He visited Buenos Aires, Argentina for 4 days. [July 2006]
Visiting Istanbul for vacation. [September 2005]
Coppola is the first major American film director to earn a master's degree in filmmaking from a major university (UCLA in 1968).
Director and screenwriter John Milius: "Francis is the best of us all. He has the most talent and the most daring. There are a lot of faults in Francis, but I think he's the leader".
Griffin O'Neal was found guilty of negligently operating a boat in relation to the death of Gian-Carlo Coppola, Coppola's 23-year-old son. Coppola died on the South River near Annapolis when a boat that O'Neal was operating went between two other boats and a tow line struck Coppola in the head throwing him to the deck and smashing his skull. O'Neal was cleared of manslaughter and also acquitted of two charges of recklessly operating a boat. [December 1986]
His ten favorite films are: Ashes and Diamonds (1958), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), I Vitelloni (1953), The Bad Sleep Well (1960), Yojimbo (1961), Singin' in the Rain (1952), The King of Comedy (1982), Raging Bull (1980), The Apartment (1960) and Sunrise (1927).

Personal Quotes (74)

To me the great hope is that now that these little 8mm video recorder and stuff now, some - just people who normally wouldn't make movies are going to be making them. And, you know, suddenly one day some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart, and you know, and make a beautiful film with her father's little camera-corder and for once this whole professionalism about movies will be destroyed forever and it will become an art form. That's my opinion. ["Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse", 1991]
[on Apocalypse Now (1979)] My movie is not about Vietnam... my movie is Vietnam. [Cannes 1979]
What the studios want now is "risk-free" films but with any sort of art you have to take risks. Not taking risks in art is like not having sex and then expecting there to be children.
I just feel that at a certain point you have to go back to the beginning again. The best thing for me at this point in my life is to become a student again and make movies with the eyes I had when I was enthusiastic about it in the first place.
In a sense, I think a movie is really a little like a question and when you make it, that's when you get the answer.
All of a sudden, there are great Japanese films, or great Italian films, or great Australian films. It's usually because there are a number of people that cross- pollinated each other.
Anything you build on a large scale or with intense passion invites chaos.
I bring to my life a certain amount of mess.
I probably have genius. But no talent.
Lots of people have criticized my movies, but nobody has ever identified the real problem: I'm a sloppy filmmaker.
Wall Street got interested in film and communications, and these are the people who brought you the Big Mac. In the past twelve years, I can't think of one classic they've made. [1996]
Basically, both the Mafia and America feel they are benevolent organizations. And both the Mafia and America have their hands stained with blood from what it is necessary to do to protect their power and interests.
If the movie works, nobody notices the mistakes... If the movie doesn't work, the only thing people notice are mistakes.
If you don't bet, you don't have a chance to win.
I think if there was a role that Robert De Niro was hungry for, he would come after it. I don't think Jack Nicholson would. Jack has money and influence and girls, and I think he's a little bit like Marlon Brando, except Brando went through some tough times. I guess they don't want to do it anymore
I had a little fantasy that goes like this: I'm getting to be an influential person in San Francisco; what if I and five other powerful guys with cigars got together in a smoke-filled room to decide who would be the next mayor of San Francisco? We'd do it because we're good guys and we really want the city to be wonderful for everybody. Then I thought, what's the difference between five good guys holding that kind of power and five bad guys? Just good intentions, and intentions can be corrupted.
Initially, the idea of a sequel seemed horrible to me. It sounded like a tacky spin-off, and I used to joke that the only way I'd do it was if they'd let me film 'Abbott and Costello Meet the Godfather'- that would have been fun. Then I entertained some Russian film executives who were visiting San Francisco and they asked me if I was going to make The Godfather: Part II (1974). That was the first time I heard the phrase used; I guess you could say I stole the title from the Russians. In short, it seemed like such a terrible idea that I was intrigued by the thought of pulling it off. Simple as that.
[on Akira Kurosawa] Most directors have one masterpiece by which they are known, or possibly two. Kurosawa has at least eight or nine.
The easiest way to make sure a movie is successful is to make a traditional movie very well. If you make a slightly unusual movie or [don't] exactly follow the rules as everyone sees them, then you get in trouble or, like with Apocalypse Now (1979), wait 20 years to hear that was really good.
When you lose your kid, it's the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning for about seven or eight years. Then there's the first morning when that's not the first thing you think of. You get brave.
The Godfather (1972) changed my life, for better or worse. It definitely made me have an older man's film career when I was 29. So now I say, 'If I had my older career when I was young, as an older man, maybe I can have a young film-maker's career.'
I didn't particularly want to make The Godfather: Part II (1974) ! I always felt that The Godfather (1972) was a perfectly good drama and ended all the aspects of the story: It resolved the character and was really meant to be one movie. It only got to be a second and a third out of the greed of companies wanting to make more of them. On "The Godfather: Part II", I had just as much control over the production as I had with Youth Without Youth (2007) because it was my own. Because "The Godfather" was so successful, I could do anything I wanted. But even though maybe "The Godfather: Part II" was a good film or a better film, I still feel that "The Godfather" was complete. I only did "The Godfather Part II" because I thought it would be interesting to make a film about a man and his father at the same age and tell the two stories in parallel, which is what I did. And that was an achievement.
I think The Godfather: Part III (1990) had a lot of good things about it. It had good potential. I think it was made a little too rushed because it was made in one year and they wanted it out that Christmas. It was a big, complex, difficult story. I think if I had spent more time writing it I would have solved or defined some of the issues better, rather than doing it while we were shooting. Also I think the loss of Robert Duvall as a character made a difference. As I look back on it, he was a very important part of that story. Clearly he was the most important character still living from the other movies. So I think ultimately losing the Hagen character was more than I was able to write my way out of so quickly. I could have done it had we not started shooting right away.
Jack (1996) was a movie that everybody hated and I was constantly damned and ridiculed for. I must say I find "Jack" sweet and amusing. I don't dislike it as much as everyone, but that's obvious - I directed it. I know I should be ashamed of it but I'm not. I don't know why everybody hated it so much. I think it was because of the type of movie it was. It was considered that I had made Apocalypse Now (1979) and I'm like a Marty Scorcese type of director, and here I am making this dumb Disney film with Robin Williams. But I was always happy to do any type of film.
Steven Spielberg is unique. I feel that the kinds of movies he loves are the same kinds of movies that the big mass audience loves. He's very fortunate because he can do the things he naturally likes the best, and he's been very successful. Martin Scorsese, I think, is different. If Exxon went to Martin and said, "Martin, we feel you're one of the best artists in the world today and we're going to finance any movie you want to make because we believe that at the end of your life those will be very valuable movies," he would be making very different movies from what he's making now. I think he probably has scripts that he's trying to get someone to enable him to make and then another one comes on and they say, "Look, we have Jack Nicholson and so on and so on. Would you do it? And of course he says, "Okay. Not that he doesn't like it or they're not good movies, but I think that his heart is maybe in more personal filmmaking.
[on The Cotton Club (1984)] It was a nightmare. It was deceptive. I was sucked in without knowing what was going on. It was like a pretty girl who gets seduced. I didn't realize that the only reason I was getting sweet-talked and enticed by Robert Evans to do "The Cotton Club" was that he needed me to get the money. It was a terrible experience. I like Gregory Hines very much, Richard Gere is basically a good guy, Diane Lane is a sweet person. But it was Bob Evans again. He was back and trying to take control of it. About 20 to 30 minutes were taken out of the Gregory-Hines-and-his-brother storyline, the back story. I'd like to see it as the long version. But I don't think it will ever happen.
There's something in my heart that isn't yet fulfilled. Maybe it's a sickness. But I'm definitely not satisfied. It's not do to with money - I'm richer than I ever thought I would be. It's not fame - I'm more famous than I've ever been. It's something else. Something personal. I would like to leave ten films that I have written, original work. That would satisfy this itch. [2007]
I wanted to make films like Youth Without Youth (2007) and the one I'm doing next in my 20s. Instead, I made The Godfather (1972). In a way, "Youth Without Youth" is a natural continuation of what I was doing with The Rain People (1969) and The Conversation (1974). I made "The Godfather" and it just totally changed my life. Suddenly I was an important director. I wasn't this young, experimental filmmaker that I'd hoped to be.
I have always been a little disappointed about One from the Heart (1981) because I really wanted to make it more like live cinema. I really wanted to shoot it with 12 cameras and edit it all in the camera. At the last minute I chickened out because the photographer chickened out. So for me with "One From The Heart", I always feel that I should have gone that last yard. It was only the cinematographer coming to me saying, "Oh please, I don't want to shoot it with 12 cameras because I can't light it." I think, no question, it was beautiful photographically - he was right. But to me the experiment was a little incomplete. It had wonderful music, wonderful songs. It would be nice if people liked "One From The Heart" because it was my big failure.
[on The Godfather (1972)] I had been so conditioned to think the film was bad - too dark, too long, too boring - that I didn't think it would have any success. In fact, the reason I took the job to write The Great Gatsby (1974) was because I had no money and three kids and was sure I'd need the money. I heard about the success of "The Godfather" from my wife, who called me while I was writing "Gatsby". I wasn't even there. Masterpiece, ha ! I was not even confident it would be a mild success.
[on Ingmar Bergman] My all-time favorite because he embodies passion, emotion and has warmth.
[on Marlon Brando] Brando wants to do what you want, but he wants people to be honest and not try to manipulate him.
They say that A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) really is Tennessee Williams' expression of himself as Blanche, as someone talented and fragile, fragile in a world of harsh reality.
The Godfather (1972) films are personal. And they are, even though our family were never gangsters, and we only heard about somebody who knew a gangster. But still, the real day-to-day reality of the Italian family that was put into the gangster film was based on my family and what I remember as a kid. You can't make films without them being personal to some extent.
I'm in a unique situation. I'm like now an elderly retired guy who made a lot of money, and now I can just, instead of playing golf, I can make art films.
I don't think The Godfather (1972) ever should have had more than one movie, actually. It was not a serial, it was a drama. The first movie wrapped up everything. To make more than one "Godfather" was just greed. Basically, making a movie costs so much money that they want it to be like Coca-Cola: you just make the same thing over and over again to make money, which is what they're doing now. But "Godfather" was not really a serial, you know?
[on Marlon Brando] Marlon was never hard to work with. His behaviour was a little eccentric on the set. He was like a bad boy and did what he wanted. But as an actor he was never hard to work with.
Hollywood doesn't really exist. What we're talking about now is the "big industry" film - films that are packaged as a certain idea of action, and in many cases violence or thrills or mystery. These films aren't expressions of the writer, but a compendium of ideas that could work as a blockbuster hit. That's not Hollywood - it's just wherever people want to make a lot of money. The less expensive a film is, the more ambitious the ideas and themes can be. And the converse is true - the more a film costs, the more salary everyone makes, the more limited the subject-matter has to be.
I think Tetro (2009) is the most beautiful film I've ever done in terms of how it was made. I don't know what people will make of the picture, but just the filmmaking part of it, I've learnt to put it together beautifully.
As I grow older, I realise that I always wanted to be a writer. With The Godfather (1972) being such a success, I was launched into a more industry-type career, which is wonderful, but I always wanted to be the director of my own material. I have always credited the writer of the original material above the title: "Mario Puzo's The Godfather", "Bram Stoker's Dracula", or "John Grisham's The Rainmaker". I felt that I didn't have the right to 'Francis Coppola's anything' unless I had written the story and the screenplay. I view Tetro (2009) as the second film of my second career. From now on I'm always going to writing the scripts, and every film will be personal. I'm going to be the kind of filmmaker I wanted to be when I was beginning.
[on Unforgiven (1992)] We developed that script, David Webb Peoples and I. We worked on it for months. The film was made based on that script we finished. Nobody wanted to make it. I'd even sent it to Clint Eastwood to act in it. I don't know whether he read it. Finally after two or three years of paying the options, I let it go and then Clint picked it up.
I was offered Thirteen Days (2000). I said I would do it but I had a very experimental way of doing it. My idea was: what if in that moment of history I got called up and they said, "Listen, Mr Coppola, the President is about to go through an extremely difficult period, he's got to make some terrifying, heartbreaking decisions and he wants you to document it. But you can't go close to him because he's going to be in many difficult meetings through the night. So what you can do is have a 16mm team using very long lenses. We don't want them to know you're shooting." And then make it that way. That's what I wanted to do, but they didn't have the courage to do it. So I said, "Make it like a regular movie." They did a pretty good job.
[on Robert De Niro] I like Bob, I just don't know if he likes himself.
In the 60s they were four filmmakers who represented cinema and influenced everyone who came after: Fellini, Kurosawa, Bergman and Kubrick.
[on shooting and finishing _Youth without Youth (2007) in Romania] It's a country with a fantastic intellectual tradition - theatre, poetry, cinema - and right now it's going through a renaissance in cinema. Their films are winning awards all over the world and everyone under 35 speaks English. They're very well educated and it's a very cinema-friendly country, but they're lacking in the visual effects department and other areas. We did the post in Bucharest and Walter Murch came over to edit and help oversee all the post. (...) The great thing about post now is that digital cinema has become a reality, so a filmmaker has more ability to compose picture and sound than ever before, and all because of these new tools, such as the latest editing systems like Final Cut Pro, Pro Tools and so on, which are also becoming less and less expensive. [Feb.2008]
Akira Kurosawa is one of the greatest directors ever to work in the cinema. His films meant an enormous amount to me when I was starting my own career.
I think cinema, movies and magic have always been closely associated. The very earliest people who made films were magicians.
Here's a tip to young directors. They never fire you midweek.
[on George Lucas] In many ways, because of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), we were deprived of the films that he was going to make and would have made. All the merchandising and financial success of those films aren't one-tenth to what he is worth as an artist and a filmmaker.
I think people have realized that The Godfather (1972) was never sequel material. I've always maintained there should have been one "Godfather," though I'm proud of the second one, and I thought the third should have been considered a coda and not called The Godfather: Part III (1990).
[if he'd be annoyed if the studio decided to make more sequels to The Godfather (1972)] Well, yeah, because I feel that all films shouldn't be sequels. Sequels are not done for the audience or cinema or the filmmakers. It's for the distributor. The film becomes a brand.
The only TV I would be interested in exploring would be live television. There's no substitute for a team of artists performing at their peak live when failure is possible. It's a high-wire act. That excites me.
I think a sequel is a waste of money and time. I think movies should illuminate new stories.
I don't think there's any artist of any value who doesn't doubt what they're doing.
I try always to do something that's a little beyond my reach, so that I'll try my best. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I almost succeed, but I think this is what life's all about.
There's no doubt that, by the end of The Godfather: Part II (1974), Michael Corleone, having beaten everyone, is sitting there alone, a living corpse. There's no way that man will ever change. I admit I considered some upbeat touch at the end, but honesty - and Pacino - wouldn't let me do it.
People feel the worst film I made was Jack (1996). But to this day, when I get checks from old movies I've made, Jack is one of the biggest ones. No one knows that. If people hate the movie, they hate the movie. I just wanted to work with Robin Williams.
The trouble with American filmmaking is that producers don't allow the risk of failure. If a good film can't risk being a failure, it won't be really good.
I am fascinated by the whole idea of family.
The language of cinema was invented at the turn of the last century by pioneers who were free to experiment but today you can't dare to experiment. People who control the motion pictures want to make (profitable films). Now we're at a turning point: As artists we can change the world but to do that we need to be free to experiment. [Variety 2015]
[on the vanishing distinction between TV and cinema] It has all become one. (...) There is no more film, there is no more television - there is cinema. And it can be everywhere and anywhere and it can do anything. [Screendaily 2015]
[on Youth Without Youth (2007)] We've got a job and so and so and so, but sometimes we say, what is life? Where did I come from? What is going to happen when I die? What's really important? All those kind of ruminations should also be in a movie, I thought. (...) I thought of it as a love story wrapped in a mystery like in Vertigo (1958). Except in "Vertigo" the mystery is some guy is trying to kill his wife. In my movie the mystery is the real mystery that we are really all in. [2007]
[on filmmaking today] Well, for under $10,000 you can buy everything you need. So now we have to undo the brainwashing of the past 50 years about what a movie can be: that it must be commercial, it must go down easy, it must be structured so that it appeals to the widest possible audience. Even people who read sophisticated books expect that when they go to see a movie, it won't involve any thinking. They're willing to give more to a work of literature. A movie is supposed to be something light that you go to, and you have a good time, and you don't think too much, and you laugh, or you get scared, or you're in awe of the violence, and you go home, and you forget it. And that has to be broken. [2008]
[on the style of Youth Without Youth (2007)] So I tried to tell the story in a more classical, more like The Godfather (1972), but more extreme. Most like Yasujirô Ozu where the camera never moves. When a camera doesn't move then movement is more accentuated because every time and actor walks in, the next movie you see look at the corner of the frame and you'll see it's always doing this. It never stops. In this movie the camera is that and that's it. Everything is accomplished in a classical shot to another shot, which then gives you more, which is one way to make a movie, but I felt that was appropriate for this because by giving it a very classical style then you could relax about that, and not feel, where am I, I can't see anything because it's cutting so fast. And then you might feel more comfortable to follow the story, but then ruminate. That's interesting. It's a dream and in the dream he's reading books. So I made the style very deliberately classical and also got to do what I've always wanted to do, is to make a movie without any movement just to see what happens. [2007]
Who said that all the ideas of how you tell a story or express the cinematic language were all in the silent era? Why aren't there new ideas that are changing the language of film now? It's partially because film is much more controlled. In those days guys went out and made movies and no one knew what a movie was so if they wanted to invent the close shot the producer wasn't going to argue with him. Today, what is he doing? We want to make money on the film. We can't just make experimental films. [2007]
[on Youth Without Youth (2007)] I was given some quotes from Mircea Eliade, who I didn't know very well. And it turned out he was this professor of religious philosophy who used to entertain himself by writing these Borges-like short stories that were kind of like "Twilight Zones." And I read this one story, and every two or three pages something that I didn't expect happened. And it had a love story, and it had all sorts of things that I found intriguing, and all sorts of things that I wanted to learn about, like the origins of language and the nature of human consciousness and the concept of time. And I was getting richer as this was going on -- my companies were successful -- and I thought, well, why don't I just finance this myself and run off and make it? (...) Many times while making this movie I thought, well, should I just dumb this down and cut this out? And I said, what a pity! Will that make it less commercial? Well, who knows what it'll be? Maybe people will get a kick out of it. And at each point, since I had no studio to boss me around, I thought, I'll do it. And I still tried to make the film be a fun experience. But on the other hand when you think about it at night you might percolate some good ideas. (...) To this day I don't understand Last Year at Marienbad (1961) but I think it's beautiful, and I'm intrigued by it. There's plenty of books that I've read that I'm not sure that I got at all, but I feel enriched by having read them. So, like you said, who's to say it's best to cut out the idea and instead of the middle ground have no idea? [2008]
I think it's better to be overly ambitious and fail than to be underambitious and succeed in a mundane way. I have been very fortunate. I failed upward in my life! [2007]
The wine business is like having a $100 million hit every year. The wine business is really a business. The film business isn't a business; it's a very screwy arrangement where you do all this work and the money all gets emptied into this hopper called distribution, and then it slowly trickles down, and when it gets to the people who actually make the film, there's little left - which is what all the strikes are about. You can't become really wealthy on the scale of what that means today in the film business, but in the wine business you can, because it took off. That wasn't my doing. It was an accident and I was luckily in it early on, so I benefited. [2008]
I wanted to be like those great European filmmakers of the '50s and '60s, and if I was hit by lightning it was The Godfather (1972); that changed my whole life. So I just want to get back to what I was doing when I was first falling in love with films. [2008]
You can't have great art without risk. It's simply impossible. If you want to eliminate risk, then you'll end up making the same movie over and over again, which is what they're doing now. [2008]
I think the language of cinema and the reason that in just 100 years we've become so comfortable with making cinema is from thousands of years of man dreaming. I think it is based on the dream, and the whole language of cinema comes from dreams. [2008]
I think the secret of life is to not be afraid of risk. People go through life risking their money, risking losing this, risking losing that. But the truth of the matter is, there is only one risk. Because for sure you're gonna die, you are there and you're thinking about your life and you say, 'Oh, I wish I'd done this, I wish I'd done that.' That's the risk. So basically, I try to say yes more than no. [2009]
Tamara Jenkins made the Slums of Beverly Hills (1998) how many years ago? She's a wonderful talent and she has no money at all, that girl. She just lives like a poor person because she doesn't want to take the money and make movies she doesn't love. I think you have to love what you make, in anything, not just movies. If you are making products make products you love and then they'll be good products and you'll be successful. [2007]
I remember I went to see Punch-Drunk Love (2002) and I said, I never saw a movie like this before. For that reason I loved it even though I don't know if it was good or not. All I know is that I never saw a movie like that. And that's why I like, even though other people were disappointed, I like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) because it was weird. It was the first time I saw that movie. I like movies to be the first time. (...) There is this whole group, but it's any kind of political movement. Movies have to be this! Well, movies don't have to be anything except beautiful and in some way illuminate life and get you thinking and stuff. [2007]

Salary (5)

The Godfather (1972) $175,000
American Graffiti (1973) 20% of gross
The Godfather: Part II (1974) $1,000,000 to write, direct and produce the film
The Cotton Club (1984) $2,500,000 + % of the gross
The Godfather: Part III (1990) $6,000,000 + % of profits

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