Posted by: daveed | February 9, 2011

Risk and reward

He’s done masterpieces. He’s done flops. You can’t deny that Francis Ford Coppola is an artist, making films that, whatever their success, were always ones he wanted to do. And not always without contention, conflict or just plain bad decision making.

In this fascinating interview, Coppola lays out a new paradigm for filmmakers — forget about trying to make money. To those in the industry (not mention those desperately trying to break in) it may seem that there isn’t much choice. But Coppola isn’t being flippant; he says it means taking risks. A lot of them:

An essential element of any art is risk. If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before? I always like to say that cinema without risk is like having no sex and expecting to have a baby. You have to take a risk.

You try to go to a producer today and say you want to make a film that hasn’t been made before; they will throw you out because they want the same film that works, that makes money. That tells me that although the cinema in the next 100 years is going to change a lot, it will slow down because they don’t want you to risk anymore. They don’t want you to take chances. So I feel like [I’m] part of the cinema as it was 100 years ago, when you didn’t know how to make it. You have to discover how to make it.

This is more than a typical “fuck you” to the Hollywood system. He’s essentially saying, “Figure out how to make the films you want.”

Perhaps that means keeping the day job, finding what little scraps of time available to devote to the craft. A constant struggle, to be sure. But if you actually get to do something you love, that should be reward enough, right? Right??


  1. I love that! So he’s basically saying the system is closed to creativity, so you may as well act like there is no movie business. Either you’re going to find your own way or you’re not. Kind of a freeing thought actually! I suspect anyone who’s labored for years in that business just for the privilege of an uncredited rewrite on Tranformers 3 might understand the wisdom in it.

  2. It’s a simple (but hardly easy) choice: create art, or make an entertainment consumer product.

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