Francis Ford Coppola came one step closer to realizing his live cinema project called “Distant Vision,” with the completion of a two-month workshop shot at his alma mater, UCLA. Seventy Theater, Film and TV students served as active crew throughout all facets of production, operating more than 40 cameras. The “proof of concept” footage was broadcast and streamed live Friday night at UCLA.
“Distant Vision” (a 19th century term for television) explores three generations of an Italian-American family whose history spans the development of TV.
Coppola’s sprawling saga will take several years to complete, and since he’s experimenting with new narrative and tech, he’s decided to workshop portions of the script.
The concept of live cinema consists of utilizing feeds from various cameras, instant replay servers and other sources, all of which the director can switch live with the most technologically advanced broadcast equipment. Therefore, Coppola believes a new kind of movie-making is possible — performed live and viewed by an audience in real-time.
However, the process is more cinematic in nature than what we’re accustomed to with live broadcast drama or musicals, but has the in-the-moment energy of a live event.
Live cinema, according to Coppola, depends on a definitive script, extensive planning, rehearsal and coordination of a variety of sources, enabling the real-time selection of views, music and VFX to be combined into the desired expression of ideas and moods. Although the audience experiences the production in real-time, it has many choices of where and what type of viewing medium is used.
Thus, live cinema can be simultaneously performed throughout all distribution platforms (including streaming to home theaters or personal devices). It also offers the flexibility to make changes on the fly or to add live elements. It also gives actors and directors more creative control.
“I felt the need to experiment in order to learn the actual methodology of live cinema, which is a hybrid of theater, film and television. The shot is the basic element, as in film; the live performance is from theater; and the advanced television technology to enable it is borrowed from TV sports. It is very exciting to work in,” Coppola said in a prepared statement.
UCLA TFT (led by Dean Teri Schwartz) co-sponsored the workshop with Coppola’s American Zoetrope.