Comic-Con '11: If there was one person no one would have predicted to steal the Comic-Con thunder in 2011, it was Francis Ford Coppola. The announcement of his presence at this year’s show, twenty years after a brief appearance for “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” in 1991, drew raised eyebrows and familiar rumblings of whether there should be more stringent qualifications as to what exactly qualifies a film or television project to show at the convention. But those doubts were quickly set aside when Coppola handed out Edgar Allen Poe 3D masks to baffled Hall H attendees upon entrance. In an age of remakes, reboots, rehashes and sequel mania, who would have thought it would take a 72 year-old director best known for work decades ago to bring a dose of fresh air to the rather predictable happenings of geekdom’s centerpiece?
The “Twixt” footage from the film -- based on a dream Coppola had -- is best described as what might happen if Roger Corman and David Lynch directed an ‘80s TV movie starring Val Kilmer, and wasn’t necessarily the story so much as the unique approach to the material that got people talking. Coppola revealed plans to tour with the film, editing both the music and the film live in front of audiences on the fly. So, if the crowd likes a scene, he’ll give them more of it and if they don’t, he could just hit the shuffle button on his iPad and see what comes next. No matter what you think of the idea of “Twixt” and the footage shown, the potential of such a concept is thrilling. After throwing Hall H into a tizzy, The Playlist joined press to talk with the director to find out more about his ambitious new concept and here's what he had to say about his ambitious new work.
1. The Road Show Idea Is Still In The Planning Stages
During the Hall H presentation, Coppola boldly proclaimed that they would hit the road and tour 30 cities. Away from the energy of the crowd, however, Coppola admitted he he might have been over-shooting a tad. “The road show is a little misunderstood,” admits Coppola. “My idea originally was like a month before Halloween to go out with music composer Dan [Deacon] and maybe hit seven cities and do live performances. I’m fascinated by the idea of a live performance of a film. It was technically impossible before. When I looked, I realized studios had booked all the theaters, so maybe I’d have to do it in the spring. I thought this film might be appropriate. This isn’t really an interactive film, I’d call it more malleable. Interactive is when the script has [questions like] 'Does he go in that door?'”
Ideally, these shows would be in a large venue, possibly even outdoors. “I’d love to do it with three screens, [but] it’s economics,” Coppola said. “The Brooklyn Academy of Music I could do it, the Wiltern, I could do it at the Hollywood Bowl. The way I see it is I’d have three screens and I’d have Dan and a percussionist at least. I’d like to have two percussionists. I would be in the orchestra pit and I would welcome the audience. That’s what I screwed up today because when we did the live version I forgot that I have to do the narration. Tom Waits did it for the finished movie. I didn’t have the light on for the lines, so I had to stop it and go back. It’s different with the whole movie than with a seven minute promo because I could really tailor the movie. If the audience was enjoying something, I could make it be longer.”
2. The 3D Sequences In “Twixt” Will Come In The Middle And At The End Of The Film
During the Hall H panel, Coppola mentioned that, while he enjoyed 3D, he doesn’t see it being necessary for the entire movie. “Twixt” will be presented with 3D sequences featuring some kind of on-screen prompt for audiences to put on their glasses (or Poe masks). “There’s 3D in the middle and then the whole ending is 3D. The audience would put the glasses on and take them off. In the live thing, I like the idea of the mask being the program. That was sort of funny to see 6,000 Edgar Allen Poes today. It was so, so funny looking.”
3. Coppola Predicted Cinema’s Electronic Future
Not only is Coppola a proponent of digital filmmaking, but he had to wait decades for the technology to catch up with the ideas in his head. “I was an early proponent that the cinema was going to be electronic. When I made ‘Apocalypse Now,’ I came back and said, ‘There’s got to be a better way to this.’ So I knew 40 years ago that was inevitable. Once that transition happened, it was a game changer. The cinema ultimately became electronic and subsequently digital.”
4. Coppola Is A Fan Of Younger Generation Filmmakers Like Alexander Payne & Wes Anderson
When asked if he thought the ‘70s might be the best cinema is ever going to get, Coppola says he still retains faith that the best years of the silver screen are yet to come. “I don’t think so,” says Coppola. “I have such faith. When you think about who the really young film directors are, they are so talented and good of heart. Alexander Payne and Tamara Jenkins, David Russell, Wes Anderson...When I say good of heart, you don’t see many of them getting the big money and going off to do the third such and such movie. So I have a lot of faith in the talent and integrity of the new generation. And their kids are going to come along and shake everything up. I try to see it in the long term. Cinema’s so young that it’s stupid to say movies are going to be like this forever and ever more. Movies are going to grow and change and evolve and turn into an ever more wonderful form. Of course it’s always going to center around human talent and storytelling and writing and acting, but we’re certainly not at the golden age of cinema. That’s going to happen in God knows when 20 years, 40 years, 80 years, a 100 years...”
5. Coppola Blames Himself for the Sequel Craze
During the panel, Coppola mentioned the lack of original material in Hollywood. In our post-panel discussion, Coppola admitted he shares some of the blame for the current lack of originality in Hollywood. “I am almost the one who started it, the first person to name a movie Part 2. The tragedy of the reboots or the sequels or the part threes or twos is that it takes the money away from a new screenplay, a new idea, a new possibility. It’s just an economic model. Studios used to make one movie and then another movie and then someone got the idea that that was a terrible investment. That if you had a brand, if it was going to be 'Spider-Man,' that you could make maybe six movies or eight movies. You wouldn’t have to each time go it alone, but that is show business, going it alone or taking the risk on one idea.”
6. Coppola Has A Day Job. The Filmmaking Is For Fun
After everything Coppola’s been through and the hell that was “Apocalypse Now,” one might suspect a jaded old codger bemoaning the days of Hollywood gone by. But nothing could be further from the man we met at Comic-Con. He’s still excited by cinema’s possibilities. Perhaps it helps that his wine business has been quite successful, allowing the director to step away from the limelight to some extent and focus on more personal projects without the worry of studio approval and financing. “These movies that I’ve been doing for the last five years are all self-financed. You don’t always get your money back, but you’ve gotta be comfortable with that. I’m not in the movie business for money, obviously, I’m in it for the fun of it. And to learn. I have a day job, which we’re actually doing well.”
“Everything I do now has a personal element,” Coppola continues. “This film has a personal element. When you work on a film, you learn a lot about whatever you’re doing. Sometimes you work on a film and you understand something that you never understood about your life. It comes out of working with that material in the film. 'Twixt' is about loss. Something we all have to deal with.”