Photo by Emilia Staugaard @emiliastaugaard.

Christian Coppola had just graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts when COVID-19 struck. Stifled by the pandemic restrictions at home in the US, the 29-year-old filmmaker decided to take his creativity abroad to Denmark, where he enrolled in a master class with Danish director Jørgen Leth. During the “Anti-Film School” lecture series, Coppola found himself turning to the Dogme 95 movement, a branch of filmmaking spearheaded by directors like Lars von Trier who are known for bridging history, drama and subject matter prioritize while forgoing the use of elaborations on special effects. Now Coppola is at it again The Danish Trilogy, a series of films that hope to establish the young auteur as a rebellious filmmaker, actor and artist. Before the release of the first film ode to Joyexclaimed Coppola interview to discuss his playfully chaotic workflow and what it was like to portray an 18th-century Danish prince in his directorial debut.


CHRISTIAN COPPOLA: How are you? I haven’t spoken to you for a long time.

ERNESTO MACIAS: The last time we spoke was when you were released dad.

COPPOLA: That was a while ago. Time doesn’t really exist for me anymore.

MACIAS: Where are you calling me from?

COPPOLA: I’m in Dallas.

MACIAS: What are you doing in Texas?

COPPOLA: I was in Europe for a month and a half. I was running around, working, gathering inspiration and seeing people. [After trips]I always try to come back and see my parents, see my dogs and get a sense of stability.

MACIAS: It’s a very artistic way of going through life. A lot has changed in the world since your release dad. What else have you been up to?

COPPOLA: After that dadI went to Denmark [to do a masterclass]. What made this period so enlightening for my work was the way I was able to approach filmmaking. I didn’t feel the limitations of following any particular structure. I was more interested in breaking rules and being in a new place that made me feel incredibly alien. I felt oddly comfortable. was part of the program [studying] a movement called Dogma 95. It was started by Thomas Vinterberg who directed Another round, who just won the award for best foreign language film, and Lars von Trier. It challenges filmmakers to break their own rules, and while I didn’t follow exactly the template they laid out, I was able to tell stories in a way that felt foreign to me – both literally and physically – by being in this others was country and embody my experience of that place. It’s all about experimenting and keeping that playfulness alive, nobody tells you what to do over your shoulder.

MACIAS: How did you come to Denmark?

COPPOLA: When we published dad, I was visiting northern Minnesota with my family on this remote island that I have been visiting since I was a child. I felt incredibly disconnected from the world when the film came out and I didn’t really have a sense of how it was playing out. I haven’t been able to make a film for a while and a friend of mine lived in Denmark and took this master class with a filmmaker named Jørgen Leth. He was part of the Dogme movement. He did Andy Warhol eats a cheeseburger clip for his movie 66 scenes from America. The goal of [the masterclass] was to make a movie. After attending NYU Tisch Film School, I had followed the strategic film school approach. It was more of an anti-film school, you came in, and there were master classes from Thomas Vinterberg and Lars von Trier. They spoke to us directly and shared their experiences as filmmakers.

MACIAS: That sounds amazing. Is there a deeper reason why you decided to do a trilogy?

COPPOLA: There is so much that can be said about a trilogy. It gave me an opportunity to take my time and try something I had never done before. Also, at the Vanity Fair Oscar party, I met this director named Joachim Trier, he was directing The worst person in the world. I spoke to him about the idea of ​​doing a trilogy and he said to me, “I didn’t intend to do a trilogy, it just happened.” That’s exactly how I would describe my experience. I really never set out to do that; it was just this release.

MACIAS: How would you describe the trilogy in one sentence?

COPPOLA: I could give you two words: messy and playful.

Film still from “Ode to Joy” (2022). Courtesy of Christian Coppola.

%MACIAS: Why did you decide to portray an 18th century Danish prince?

COPPOLA: A lot has led to this moment. When you travel to Copenhagen or any of these Scandinavian countries, the monarchy, especially in the city center, is somehow unavoidable. Denmark has one of the oldest monarchies in the world. Costumes, characters and pageantry have always fascinated me. Originally I wanted to have another actor do it, but because of COVID I had to do it myself. I wanted to see what it would be like to take someone living in a bubble who is out of touch with reality and let them immerse themselves in society. The great dictator by Charlie Chaplin was this one film I was alluding to. I created a character that was an amalgamation of all these different narcissistic personalities that you might assume are pretty detached from reality. Costumes, mannerisms and pageantry aside, there’s something about taking previous ideas of what something means and dropping them into situations you wouldn’t expect.

MACIAS: Would you actually want to live in the 18th century?

COPPOLA: [Laughs] I’ll try everything once. There’s a funny way people romanticize the past, but I think the present is so overwhelming.

MACIAS: You mentioned that you didn’t know you had a film trilogy. Do the films stand alone or should they be consumed as a unit?

COPPOLA: I thought about dropping all three films together as one piece. But then I realized that the pace of culture, or the speed at which people consume things, is just so overwhelmingly fast. I liked the idea of ​​letting each film stand on its own because each film is its own unique entity that feeds into a collective idea. If I had to describe the genre of each film I would be at a loss for words and it makes me feel like I did something right.

MACIAS: How did it feel to be the star and director of these films?

COPPOLA: I’ve never had a complicated relationship in front of the camera, but in terms of my own films, it was something that never really entertained me until I didn’t have a choice. It’s an incredibly tiring process, managing the production and relying on people to capture them like that [you want], but there was something incredibly exciting about this experience. It has given me a lot of insight into working with actors and talent and opened up new ways of thinking for me as a storyteller.

Film still from the trailer “The Danish Trilogy” (2022). Courtesy of Christian Coppola.

MACIAS: I want to talk about the soundtrack, it’s quite peculiar. There’s techno and recordings of the original Camelot Broadway Soundtrack. What was the idea behind it and who did you work with on it?

COPPOLA: One of the things I wanted to do was make people feel disoriented. If you listen to the lyrics to the song “Work It,” it says, “You wanna know how I’m getting away with it all? I work all the damn time.” It almost feeds the character’s deception and feeds the headspace of where he is, which is everywhere. That Camelot Song that we might swap out for a Perfume Genius song off the new record.

MACIAS: The other day I saw someone on Twitter saying that Perfume Genius is just the American Björk and it really made me laugh because it’s true.

COPPOLA: That’s a great way to describe it. If I ever do a feature film, I want Perfume Genius to score it. Music is a really important tool and I find it incredibly informative about how we experience our inner lives. Since there is no dialogue in this film, I pay incredibly close attention to which lyrics and melodies speak. I like to let everything speak for itself and also leave behind a feeling of mystery.

MACIAS: I think we need a little mystery in our current culture.

COPPOLA: I agree. I truly believe that subtlety, mystery and ambiguity make life worth living. I want more nuance. We see the resurgence of top gun and all these different tent poles that existed in the ’90s and early ’00s because people have a hard time spotting the nuances in the present. That’s the kind of work that interests me. I want to make work that feels new, transcendent, mysterious and ambiguous.

MACIAS: Why did you think this was the right project to release now?

COPPOLA: This prince film has essentially been shot for over two years. Not much has changed. I let myself live with the films. I really wanted to take the time to explore my own identity as a filmmaker. There’s this quote from David Bowie where he says, “Once you start wading in the water and you feel like you’re going too deep, then you have to keep going.” That’s something I’ve really tried, in mine to pursue my own work, to create things I never really dreamed of doing.

Film still from the trailer “The Danish Trilogy” (2022). Courtesy of Christian Coppola.

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