Francis Ford Coppola is and has been a great influence on me as a filmmaker as well as a source of my deepest admiration. Both via the films he’s made as well as in his approach to filmmaking. Yes, even some of the films that were difficult and painful experiences for him, those films which he didn’t feel reflected him fully as an artist, have had a lasting impact on me.
Through my ongoing journey to understand my desire to make films and tell stories, my many youthful fantasies of making those films in that once magical place known as Hollywood, and in watching and listening to great artists like Francis Coppola share their insights, experiences and wisdom, I have managed to not feel completely alone in my conclusion that Hollywood may, in fact, not be the best place for me to be making films. This is a subject I have written about before and return to often as I find myself in a transition period in my life and art. While still a resident of Los Angeles and Hollywood, and still surrounded by many “industry” friends and acquaintances, I have both mentally and artistically distanced myself from the very world I had once strived to be a part of. Through my experiences as a writer working with name producers, to my experiences making THE PLAGUE, my first feature as director, I have learned to trust less in the business of filmmaking and trust more in my own gut as both a filmmaker and a lover of film.
It is therefore that I am thankful and inspired when I stumble across great filmmakers whose experiences in the field, far greater than my own, seem to confirm my desire to follow my gut and my heart, even while so many around me–agents, lawyers, industry peers–seem to suggest my desired path lies somewhere between pipe dream and career suicide. But the more steps I take away from filmmaking as it is defined by the town and industry I physically inhabit, and move toward a place more centered around the artistry and love I have of films and filmmaking and my joy of working with people I admire, respect and whose company I enjoy, the more empowered I feel, the more inspiration I seem to find, the more excited I become.
And so I want to thank Mr. Coppola for sharing his thoughts and experiences in his introduction to the Blu-ray release of PATTON, a film for which he won the Academy Award for screenwriting, and let him know that there are filmmakers out there like myself who are not just listening to what he is saying, but actually hearing and finding inspiration in his words; the inspiration to follow a path dismissed by many, attained by few, but cherished by those lucky enough to trust their hearts.