“We’re not gonna talk about wine,” legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola quipped at the Tribeca Film Festival where he sat down for a wide-ranging Storytellers talk moderated by author Jay McInerney. And it was an appropriate setting for the man who gave the world “The Godfather,” as he’s now embarking on another epic story.
“Distant Vision” is a massive undertaking that Coppola has been working on for a while now. In 2014 he described it as “a multi-generational saga about an Italian-American family not unlike his own” and later explained the unique approach he was going to take with it.
“It’s sort of like [Thomas Mann‘s] ‘Buddenbrooks‘ because it’s about three generations of a family,” Coppola said in 2015. “It happens during the birth of television; the growth and omnipresence of television and finally the end of television as it turns into the internet. Then I decided that I wanted to do it as live television.”
Noting that the script for “Distant Vision” is now running around 500 pages, Coppola explained at Tribeca that he’s planning shorter “proof of concept” productions to work out the technical hurdles before diving into it fully, describing the combination of live performance and traditional moviemaking as the “holy grail.” He also points to recent live TV productions of “Grease” and “A Few Good Men” as similar to what he’s going for, but Coppola is working on a much, much bigger scale.
You might think that the multiple Oscar winner doesn’t have anything to prove, but Coppola has always been willing to take things to the next level. Even if it means literally throwing his accolades away.
“I had won five Oscars and no one would let me do ‘Apocalypse,’ ” Coppola recalled. “I was so mad that I took the five Oscars and I threw them out the window of my house. And they landed down in the garden, all mangled. They’re just dross, by the way.”
So it’ll be interesting to see if Coppola can pull this off. His ambitions don’t always work (see the plans to take “Twixt” on a live remix tour around the country) but his desire to move ahead of the curve is admirable and inspiring. Check out the full talk below.