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#242 Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life
April 21st, 2022 | E242

What I learned from reading Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life by Michael Schumacher.


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[2:49] You can always understand the son by the story of his father. The story of the father is embedded in the son.

[5:33] I had spent a lifetime with a frustrated, and often unemployed man, who hated anybody who was successful.

[7:01] And he said, “Yeah, but there can only be one genius in the family. And since I'm already that, what chance do you have? “What kind of father says something like that to his son?

[8:21] He is incredibly talented and incredibly pretentious. He doesn't know what he's doing half the time and the other half of the time he's brilliant.

[9:46] There is no speed limit. The standard pace is for chumps.

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[14:10] Coppola displayed a remarkable ability to do whatever was necessary to get the job done.

[16:30] I had an overwhelming urge to make films.

[19:11] I deliberately worked all night so when he'd arrive in the morning he would see me slumped over the editing machine.

[20:36] Say yes first, learn later.

[21:00] My peculiar approach to cinema is I like to learn by not knowing how the hell to do it. I’m forced to discover how to do it.

[23:10] His willingness to seize the moment was one of the main characteristics separating him from his other fellow students and aspiring filmmakers.

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[37:43] You have to control the money or you don't have control.

[38:53] At his absolute lowest point comes his greatest opportunity.

[41:59] It only takes a couple of these gigantic flops to permanently erase any positive financial outcome that you had previously.

[44:55] Either control your emotions or other people are going to control you.

[47:35]  In many cases, the people we study are dead. We can't talk to them, but they can still counsel us through their life stories.

[50:00] Excellence took time and patience.

[51:56] Even in the vortex of the storm some outstanding work was being accomplished. Something strong and powerful was being forged in struggle.

[52:46] Vito Corleone had shown a rough-hewn old-world wisdom, the kind gained through experience rather than from a textbook.

[56:29] A great story about loyalty and friendship. If you have a friend like this, hold onto them.

[1:03:32] Martin Sheen on working for Coppola: I have a lot of mixed feelings about Francis. I'm very fond of him personally. The thing I love about him most is that he never, like a good general, asks you to do anything he wouldn't do. He was right there with us, lived there in shit and mud up to his ass, suffered the same diseases, ate the same food. I don't think he realizes how tough he is to work for. God, is he tough. But I will sail with that son of a bitch anytime.

[1:04:58] I always had a rule. If I was going away for more than 10 days I’d take my kids out of school.

[1:08:31] If you don't have this fundamental alignment between who you are and the work you do —and how you do that work —there's going to be some level of misery unhappiness if you don't resolve that conflict.

[1:12:22] Half the people thought it was a masterpiece and half the people thought it was a piece of shit.

[1:23:01] On the death of his son: I realized that no matter what happened, I had lost. No matter what happened, it would always be incomplete.

[1:25:38] I want to be free. I don't want producers around me telling me what to do. The real dream of my life is a place where people can live in peace and create what they want.


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