Thursday, May 14, 2020

Kidding Around With Coppola

I want to be Francis Ford Coppola when I grow up. And I’m not talking about 70’s Francis when the world was his for the taking. While I’m sure it’s nice to be able to have meals flown from San Francisco to the Philippines where you are shooting Apocalypse Now with all the resources of Ferdinand Marcos’ military at your disposal, but that’s not for me. I want to be the Francis Ford Coppola I worked for when I was sixteen.

Bet you didn’t know that Coppola directed a musical adaptation of Gidget, did you? Well he did! And it starred real high schoolers. The crew was entirely high schoolers as well. The only adults were the department heads and actor Dermot Mulroney who played The Big Kahuna.

Every now and again I have to Google it myself to be sure it really happened. I really met Catherine Keener, Sofia Coppola, and Spike Jonze when they visited rehearsals. Francis really gave the crew his credit card to go buy Rubio’s for ourselves. We really did have a wrap party on a boat where Reel Big Fish played.

And I got to have all of these experiences because the guy who directed some of the greatest films of all time decided he’d like to spend his summer chasing whimsy and making pretend with a bunch of kids. And it’s not like this was the only time he did something like this. Just a few years ago he got together with a bunch of UCLA students to attempt “Live Cinema”. He even wrote a book about that experience!

Will “Live Cinema” ever become a thing? Will Gidget ever end up on Broadway? The answer to both questions is “Not likely”, but the odds of someone involved with either of those projects going on to make something amazing is actually quite high. It was Francis after all who predicted that the next great revolution in Cinema will come from some hypothetical little girl playing around with their dad’s camera. Bless him for leaving that camera out where kids can grab it.

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