The legendary Francis Ford Coppola is one of the most iconic directors in the film industry, so why does he fund some of his own projects? The 82-year-old moviemaker has certainly been around the cinematic block a few times. He’s had plenty of hits, like The Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, The Rainmaker, and more.
More recently, he’s been at the helm of works such as the 2011 horror film Twixt and Distant Vision — an ongoing, experimental film and live performance project centering around multiple generations of an Italian-American family. In addition, Coppola’s long-planned passion project — a Roman epic called Megalopolis — is once again in development. Any film he brings to fruition is sure to garner plenty of viewers and massive amounts of attention. And the high-profile actors he’s been reported as discussing roles with (e.g. Michelle Pfeiffer, Jon Voight, Forest Whitaker, among others) will only intensify the public’s interest in the project.
Francis Ford Coppola’s unique approach to the movie industry has sparked a lot of movie-related buzz in another way — because he’s stated he’s willing to fund some of his forthcoming film. In an interview with Deadline about the project (which he said will cost between $100 million and $120 million to make), “I’m prepared to match some outside financing, almost dollar for dollar. In other words, I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.” It’s mind-boggling to think someone as successful and respected as Coppola would have to fund his own movies. Judging from his comments over the years, this method has to do not only with creative control, but also with the acclaimed director’s drive to work on projects that he has a genuine interest in and believes in.
In 2019, Deadline spoke with Francis Ford Coppola about his Hollywood-related problems trying to get 1979’s Apocalypse Now made. He said, “I was in my up period but I was astonished that nobody wanted me to make Apocalypse Now. I learned the big rule of the movie business…[i]t’s also about the type of movie you want to make.” He explained that he’d wanted to venture beyond the gangster film lane, which he felt industry people wanted him to stay in. As it seems will be the case with Megalopolis, some of Coppola’s other projects — like the Apocalypse Now that studios didn’t want—required the director to bet with his own cash before. In the 2019 Deadline interview, he noted how he had been “famously scared and depressed” while making the film because doing so required a massive loan with “impossible interest.” He even risked losing his newly-purchased vineyards at the time. Coppola faced major problems filming Apocalypse Now — but thankfully, the gamble paid off.
Though the auteur’s current and past comments showcase the sad reality of how money-driven the industry is, his conviction and passion are undeniably commendable. While clearly being a man who’s chosen his occupation for his love of movies and self-expression via the medium, he still seems just as willing to take financial risks in his 80s after a long career as he was in his younger days. Francis Ford Coppola does whatever it takes to share the films he truly wants to make with the world. Luckily for both him and viewers, he has all the more creative freedom as a result.