Returning to Comic-Con for the first time nearly two decades after he hit San Diego to stump for "Bram Stoker's Dracula," director Francis Ford Coppola made sure it was an event to remember. In what will likely be one of the most talked about presentations when everyone wakes up in a geek hangover on Monday, Coppola unveiled footage from his upcoming gothic horror flick "Twixt," but in an interesting twist that set Twitter on fire, he edited and shaped footage on the fly using an app on his iPad. Though there were some technical problems in what was described as a "dress rehearsal attempt," our man on the ground Jeff Otto described it as a "pretty crazy presentation" that was "definitely original and entertaining."
“Most art is recorded, it's canned,” Coppola stated, revealing plans for a 30 city tour of the film that will be presented with Coppola and electronic musician and film composer Dan Deacon recutting the movie and score live. And that's exactly what they did in Hall H. First, they screened the footage -- narrated by none other than Tom Waits -- and then screened it again, cutting and re-ordering the scenes that felt like a mix between David Lynch and Roger Corman. Coppola himself featured on one of the score tracks, chanting "Nosferatu!" and as the directed demonstrated in shuffling the scenes live, the possibility for each audience to have a completely unique experience watching "Twixt" is immense.
"About a year ago, after 'Avatar,' people were asking me what I thought of 3D and I thought, 'Gee, I've always loved 3-D.' We were excited back in those days by 'Bwana Devil' [and later] 'House of Wax,' " Coppola said, referring to the '50s horror flicks that first ushered in the 3D craze. And indeed, during the presentation of footage from the film, a William Castle-esque cue was given to audience members to put on their 3D Edgar Allan Poe mask -- no joke -- they were given upon entry. It also confirmed "Twixt" will be in both formats as earlier reports suggested.
However, while Coppola enjoys the format, he believes a film doesn't have to be wall-to-wall presented in the format. "Personally, I don't like watching 3D with glasses. I took the glasses off during 'Avatar' and put them on during a sequence [that looked like it took advantage of the process]," he said. "I thought, if I make a film, I would like to have some 3D sequences, but not do the entire thing in 3D."
But if you think Coppola is a 3D zealot, guess again. "Movies are so young, how dare anyone think all it's got is...Cinema is at the beginning in many ways. Theater is thousands of years old," Coppola said. "I was a little taken aback when studios said they would make all their films in 3D as if it was a magic fix. No, cinema has many surprises up its sleeve."
As for the decision to take the film on the road, it was Coppola's idea for the start to present it live, allowing him to tweak his "performance" as audiences respond to the film. "When we made 'Twixt,' I knew it was kind of a Halloween story and I thought, 'Gee, what I'd like do is go on tour and actually perform the film, a different version for each audience.' In the old days, when the audience was loving what was happening, the conductor would [signal the orchestra] and they would do it again," the director said. "Because cinema is now digital, no longer a long strip, they're digital files. So if the director were there, they could essentially change what was happening. I could give you more of something you like. In a ten minute promo there's not that much to work with, but in a whole movie..."
"Years ago, if you were making music, you had to be in the same room as the people making music," Deacon said with Coppola finishing the thought, "If you were a composer, the way you got money was by touring with the musicians." It looks like they've found a way to combine new school technology with an old school approach for a fresh angle with which to present the independently produced film.
Of course, an inevitable question about "The Godfather" popped up with a fan asking the director to promise that he would never remake or reboot the film. "I was about 29 when I made 'The Godfather' so I have absolutely no ownership over that," Coppola explained. "I think when they remake films, it's a pity because that money could go into new stories."
But the invigorated director does have something else up his sleeve, and it sounds like a return to the larger canvases of his older work. "I am writing a new script as we speak that is bigger," Coppola revealed. "I don't know how we're going to finance, but I am writing it. I'm getting old and I'd like to express something on a slightly bigger canvas." --reporting by Jeff Otto.