Coppola, the fearless, has no regrets

Megalopolis director values friendship more than personal fortune

by Richard Mowe

Megalopolis trio: Nathalie Emmanuel, Adam Driver and Francis Ford Coppola in Cannes
Megalopolis trio: Nathalie Emmanuel, Adam Driver and Francis Ford Coppola in Cannes Photo: Richard Mowe
Holding court at the Cannes Film Festival today after last night’s keenly anticipated premiere of the long awaited Megalopolis the legendary Francis Ford Coppola, 85, suggested that he was sanguine about the $120 million he has personally invested in the project over the decades. The film still awaits a US distribution deal although Imax has agreed to give it a run of screenings in its dedicated cinemas. Distributors in five European countries have signed up to what was been described as an epic Roman fable set in an imagined modern America.

Coppola reflected at a media gathering: “In the end there are so many people when they die say I wish I had done this, I wish I had done that. When I die I am going to say I got to do this, I got to see my daughter [Sofia] win an Oscar, I got to make wine, I got to make every movie I wanted to make, and I am going to be so busy thinking of all the things I got to do that if I die I won’t even notice it.”

Francis Ford Coppola: 'I do not care about my personal fortune. I have never cared about money'
Francis Ford Coppola: 'I do not care about my personal fortune. I have never cared about money' Photo: Richard Mowe
He fears that the film industry has become governed by people wanting to pay off their debts. “They see their job not so much as making good movies but more as a way of paying off their debt obligations. Obviously new companies like Amazon and Microsoft have plenty of money and it may be that some of the established studios will not be here for very much longer.”

The production was not shot in New York because the filmmaking subsidies in the city were less generous as those offered in Georgia where it was made. He praised the State’s “generosity.”

As for losing his investment he said with a devil may care shrug of the shoulders: “I do not care about my personal fortune. I have never cared about money. One of the reasons I had the line of credit to enable me to do this was that in 2008 during the great financial crisis I borrowed $20 million to build a winery and I built something like the Tivoli Gardens in wonderful Denmark with a park and games because I figured if the kids could go then the parents and grandparents would too and spend all day there.

“So I took the money from that which I wouldn’t have had I not risked the loan and I put the risk on the movie. I had no qualms about doing it. My children without exception, be it Roman or Sofia, have viable careers without my fortune - they don’t need it. No matter what happens, we’re fine. So my message to all of you is that money is not important but what matters is friends because a true friend will never let you down whereas money can evaporate.”

Actor Laurence Fishburne (one of Coppola's ongest collaborators) concurred with the sentiment: “Francis and I have been working together since 1976 when I was 14 years old and Roman and I have known each other since we were boys. We grew up together.

“One of the things I have always loved about Francis was that he always talked about stopping time and I used to hear him talk to Eleanor [his late wife] about that. So it was wonderful to see it on the screen and the way time is depicted in this great film.

Laurence Fishburne: 'Time is really important and how we use our time is important which is part of the message of the film'
Laurence Fishburne: 'Time is really important and how we use our time is important which is part of the message of the film' Photo: Richard Mowe
“Time is really important and how we use our time is important which is part of the message of the film. We should take the time to think about how much time we might have left.”

Coppola’s sister Talia Shire, who appears in a cast that also includes Aubrey Plaza, Adam Driver, Nathalie Emmanuel, Giancarlo Esposito, Fishburne, and Jon Voight, opined: “Right now it is easy to go backwards but going forward is unknown and can be spiritual and extraordinary.

“Every day with my brother he made you go forward - he presents creative courage. He is a visionary and let me tell you he was a visionary when he was nine years old.

“At that time Francis had polio and in those days people were not walking because of it. But Francis decided he was going to was going to walk again. And that took every day for a year which was an act of courage. With Francis you do go forward.”

Another long-time acquaintance Giancarlo Esposito who plays the mayor of New Rome in the film, realised when he watched it for the first time in Cannes that his character was “not supposed to know anything - and neither was Francis."

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