Francis Ford Coppola on Bridging the Gap Between Distribution and Commerce
It takes no imagination to live within your means.
Yesterday I watched the Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse about the making of Apocalypse Now. It is an amazing documentary where we see Francis Ford Coppola under the pressure of filmmaking and the toll it takes. There is a lot to be learned by how he handles the intense situation.
While I was in Coppola mode I came across this great interview. Coppola talks about risk, money, the craft, collaboration, and the wise rules he has developed over the last 45 years in the business to govern his filmmaking. I loved how he answered this question on distribution and commerce.
How does an aspiring artist bridge the gap between distribution and commerce?
We have to be very clever about those things. You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.
This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are ways around it.
So in a sense I see myself as composer, the only way for me to make money is to travel or journey with the orchestra of creative independents and be the conductor or curator of ideas, because then I can get paid as a platform provider or businessman. I must not think of filming or royalties. As Coppola said, "we must try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Meaning we each have to build our own suitable platforms to fund our projects. If you want to see a true platform in action to model your own on then take a look at what Ryan Koo is doing over at No Film School.