NPR’s Fresh Air show recently broadcast an interview with Francis Ford Coppola, which was recorded last September at the Toronto International Film Festival. It is a great interview for filmmakers and lovers of his film.
You can listen to the interview on the player below or read the transcript. One of the nice things about the Fresh Air replay is that they cut in scenes from the movies, illustrating what Coppola is talking about.[audio:http://pd.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/fa/2011/11/20111122_fa_01.mp3|titles=Francis Ford Coppola Interviewed in 2011 by Cameron Baily]
Among other things, Coppola talks about working with Brando on Apocalypse Now (Amazon affiliate link), and how Brando got $3 million for three weeks work, and that they spent the first week just talking about things like termites. He also describes how he dealt with the fact that Brando arrived much larger than was expected, and how that was, indeed, a problem for the film.
Coppola gives career advice to young filmmakers. (Summary: if you are male, get married; if you are female, don’t get married.)
He talks about how his rehearsal process is built around improvisation rather than working on scenes. Rob Lowe talks about his experience with this on Rumble Fish in his book Stories I Only Tell My Friends, so between this interview and Lowe’s book, you can see that process from both sides.
Coppola also talks about how he ended up with succes writing the film Patton, for which he won an Oscar, ending the anecdote saying:
What happened was for five years later they revisited it and they had hired George C. Scott and Scott didn’t like the script they then had, and someone remembered this earlier script. So they went back to my script and that’s how I got to be in it. So the moral I want to teach all the young people here is that the same thing you get fired for is what they give the Lifetime Achievement Awards 30 years later.
All in all, a very interesting interview from one of the great directors.
Oh, and here is that famous opening scene from Patton. “Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country…”
Photo credit: fikirbaz