His directorial debut, CQ is a kitschy, soulful paean to 1960s cinema both the low key avant garde of the French New Wave and the psychedelic excesses of big budget sci fi extravaganzas, such as Barbarella. “CQ is fundamentally a love letter to fummaking,” Coppola says while seated in the living room of his Hollywood home. “But Fm also just trying to make a funky movie.”
When CQ debuted last year at the Cannes Film Festival, Coppola learned firsthand what veterans have known for years: The red carpet is studded with land mines. “They were a little bitchy to me there, Fve got to admit,” he says, referring to the frosty reception his film received from French critics and Cannes attendees. It didn’t help that CQ was overshadowed by a feature that screened the day before, a little number by the name of Apocalypse Now Redux. “Redux was such a big hit at Cannes, and let’s face it, it’s a hard act to follow,” Coppola says of his father’s masterpiece. “Dad was really sensitive to the whole situation, but audiences were stili making weird connections between the two films and comparing them.”
Despite its obvious reverence for cinema history, CQ stands on its own. It stars Jeremy Davies as a young, inse cure filmmaker who works as an edi tör on a lavish sci fi picture about a Apparently, being a Coppola confers a certain inevitability on one’s life course, due to a family atmosphere that’s one part Strasbeıg School, one part Fellini. “We live in a big, tircus family, with an artistic tradition that goes back to my grandfa ther, who was a composer,” says Coppola. “One summer my dad hosted a kind of summer drama camp where everyone had to produce a one act play Mine was Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry, by Tennessee Wüliams.” Coppola got his official start in filmmaking as a teenager, working as a soundman on The Outsiders and as an associate producer on Rumblefish, both of which were directed by his father. After attending NYU film school in the Eighties, he set up his own production company and has since shot videos for Moby and ^(fyclef as well as commercials for Adidas, Levi’s and ESPN.
Not surprisingly, the production of CQ turned into something of a family affair. “I was looking to cast Dragonfly, and I knew Angela Lindvall was the one,” he says. “But it was Sofia, through her friendship with photographer Juergen Teller, who helped me seal the deal.” In addition to looking över an early draft of the script and shooting a mini documentary on the making of CQ Sofia appears in the film as the mistress of an impulsive film producer, while Coppola’s cousin Jason Schwartzman has a larger role as an egocentric director.
Although the movie is clearly Coppola’s baby, the influence of his father (and co producer) does make itself felt. “There’s one scene near the end where the aging film director, played by Gerard Depardieu, telis Davies, Always stand near the camera; that way your actor will feel you there and will be playing just for you,”’ notes Coppola.
“We live in a big, circus family, with an artistic tradition that goes way back.”
sexy superagent, Dragonfly (played by model Angela Lindvall). Ali the while, Davies is shooting his own autobiographical cinema verite film, to the dismay of his live in girlfriend. “I just want to capture what’s real and honest,” he telis her, to which she replies, “What if it’s boring?”
Let’s see now: a young, aspiring director yearning for, yet terrified of, success, torn between Tinseltown flash and gritty independence…. Could Roman Coppola’s debut film be a tad autobiographical? “The film is riddled with allusions to my own life, it’s true,” admits the 37 year old director, who also penned the script. “Like my father, I’m attracted to per sonal films and to filmmakers who are just doing their own thing and aren’t part of some popularity con test. At the same time, I love com mercial movies with car chases and t&a I’d love to direct a movie based entirely on a comic book” Given his resume, it looks like he could easily take either path.
“Well, that’s something my father told me.”
What the younger Coppola hasn’t learned quite yet is how to shield him self from the press and from the ever so predictable charges of nepo tism. “It’s amazing how skewed peo ple’s perceptions are,” he muses. “Like, one person on the Net wrote, ‘How strange is it that Roman Coppola is making a film about a struggling film maker like he would know anything about that.’ Do people think I’m just sitting around withdrawing money from a trust fund? I’ve got to eam a liv ing like anyone else.”
Critics bent on dismissing him as a wannabe may have trouble explaining his apparent mastery of Sixties cinema. But he is loath to take sole credit for these referential flourishes. “We have a family slogan, coined by my grandfather,” notes Coppola. “He always said, ‘Steal from the best.’ There’s no shame in that, man.”