Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola makes a lot more wine than he does movies nowadays. We haven’t seen a film from the iconic director behind The GodfatherApocalypse Now, and The Conversation for four years now. His last picture, Twixt, came and went. Over the past decade Coppola has been directing some of his most experimental work, not what he calls “factory movies,” which he has no interest in making. Read more about why the director stopped making movies for major studios after the jump.

A lot of directors from the heyday of studio filmmaking often sound curmudgeonly when discussing the current state of the movie business. Studios are currently pumping out tentpole films and superhero movies, but that’s not all they’re making. Still, Coppola, while promoting the Blu-Ray rerelease of Dracula at Yahoo, expresses zero interest in directing products.

That’s why I ended my career: I decided I didn’t want to make what you could call “factory movies” anymore. I would rather just experiment with the form, and see what I could do, and [make things] that came out of my own. And little by little, the commercial film industry went into the superhero business, and everything was on such a scale. The budgets were so big, because they wanted to make the big series of films where they could make two or three parts. I felt I was no longer interested enough to put in the extraordinary effort a film takes [nowadays].

A few filmmakers from the heyday of studio filmmaking — most notably, Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver), Brian De Palma (The Untouchables), and William Friedkin (The Exorcist) — are still getting their visions made. Friedkin is thriving outside of the studio system, although I’m sure he has trouble doing so. It’s disheartening a lot of directors like Coppola can’t make studio dramas anymore, but at least they keep trucking in the indie world. We currently have no clue what The Godfather director is directing next, but he says he’s keeping busy.

I’m working on some very interesting stuff. But the trouble with writing and working on interesting stuff — and certainly ambitious stuff — is if you talk about it, you lose the energy to go write it. I feel it’s better not let the steam out by telling people about what I’m doing. It makes it easier to go back to the table to work if you haven’t spoken about it.

You should read the entire interview, especially if you’re a fan of Coppola’s operatic adaptation of Dracula. The director, if you’ve ever listened to one of his audio commentaries, always shares delightful anecdotes and insightful technical details, like how they accomplished that hilarious shot of Lucy (Sadie Frost) spewing blood on Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins).

A lot of scenes I shot backwards, and then we played it forward. And when you have a blood [effect], there’s a rig that’s coming out of a tube, and at the right moment, it looks like it’s spewing it out. The film had lots of in-camera effects, and it didn’t have any optical effects, and it certainly had no digital effects. So [there were] a lot of reverse-action and false-gravity scenes and illusions that came from the early magicians. And lots of live-action effects, meaning we really rigged something on the stage — like when the coachman extends his arm and lifts [Reeves]. That was done in real time.

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