Since first finding her feet as an actress in promos for Sonic Youth and Madonna before moving on into directing, Sofia Coppola has inextricably melded her observations from the music scene into the DNA of her cinematic efforts. Though she’s filtered both worlds through an affectionate and melancholic tone, a strong sense of humor has crept in as well, and as with Spike Jonze and his “Jackass” origins, we’ve got a taste of Coppola’s early days involving herself in some truly manic shenanigans.
In 1994, Coppola teamed with her best friend, actress/director Zoe Cassavetes (“Broken English”), to co-host and co-direct a grand, surreal season of television for Comedy Central. Entitled “Hi Octane”, the show’s format saw Sofia and Zoe hang with filmmaker and musician friends including Beck, Thurston Moore, and The Beastie Boys, act in some mildly-successful sketches, and also engage in a number of auto-related outings (if you’ve ever wanted to see an energetic Coppola drive a monster truck, here’s your ticket).
In addition to tagging along with Gus Van Sant on a location scout or stepping into “Thurston’s Alley,” the show was in fact the first to film entirely on digital video—witness a number of cameras strapped to the hood of a car as evidence. The result is a loose oddity, edited to oblivion with quick cuts and title cards, but it remains immensely watchable, if only to see a range of folks like Coppola and Cassavetes get a bit silly.
Watch the first three episodes of “Hi Octane” below.