Christian Coppola wants Perfume Genius to mark the music for his next film

Photo by Emilia Staugaard @emiliastaugaard.

Christian Coppola had just graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts when COVID-19 hit. Suffocated by pandemic restrictions at home in the United States, the 29-year-old filmmaker decided to export his creativity to Denmark, where he signed up for a masterclass with Danish director Jørgen Leth. During the “anti-film school” lecture series, Coppola found himself embracing the Dogma 95 movement, a branch of cinema spearheaded by directors like Lars Von Trier, known for prioritizing story, game and theme, while foregoing the use of elaborate films. special effects. Now Coppola is back with The Danish Trilogy, a series of films that hope to turn the young author into a rebellious filmmaker, actor and artist. Before the release of the first film, Ode to JoyCoppola called Interview to discuss his playful and chaotic workflow and what it was like portraying an 18th-century Danish prince in his directorial debut.


CHRISTIAN COPPOLA: How are you? I haven’t spoken to you in a while.

ERNESTO MACIAS: The last time we spoke was when you went out Father.

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 to work, gather inspiration and see people. [After trips]I always try to come back to see my parents, to see my dogs and to have a feeling of stability.

MACIAS: It’s a very artistic way of going through life. A lot has changed in the world since your release. Father. What else did you do?

COPPOLA: After FatherI went to Denmark [to do a masterclass]. What made this period so instructive on my work was the way I was able to approach cinema. I did not feel the constraints of following a certain structure. I was more interested in breaking the rules and being in a new place where I felt incredibly alien. It made me feel oddly comfortable. Part of the program was [studying] a movement called Dogma 95. It was started by Thomas Vinterberg who made another round, which has just won the award for best foreign language film, and Lars Von Trier. It challenges the filmmakers to break their own rules, and while I didn’t follow the exact model they set, I was able to tell stories in a way that felt alien to me – at times literally and physically – by being in this other country and embodying my experience of this place. It’s about experimenting and keeping that playfulness alive, no one telling you what to do over your shoulder.

MACIAS: How did you end up in Denmark?

COPPOLA: When we came out Father, I was in northern Minnesota with my family on this remote island that I had been going to since I was a kid. I felt incredibly detached from the world when the movie came out, and I didn’t really have a clue how it was going. I hadn’t been able to make a film for a while and a friend of mine was living in Denmark and was doing this masterclass with a filmmaker named Jørgen Leth. He was part of the Dogma movement. He did the Andy Warhol eats a cheeseburger clip for his movie 66 Scenes from America. The objective of [the masterclass] was to create a film. Having attended NYU Tisch film school, I had done the strategic approach to film school. It was more of an anti-film school, you entered, and there were master classes from Thomas Vinterberg and Lars Von Trier. They spoke to us directly and shared their experiences as filmmakers.

MACIAS: It sounds incredible. Is there a deeper reason why you chose to do a trilogy?

COPPOLA: There’s so much to say with a trilogy. It gave me the opportunity to take my time and try something I had never done before. On top of that, I had met this director at the Vanity Fair Oscar party called Joachim Trier, he directed The worst person in the world. I told him about the idea of ​​doing a trilogy, and he was like, “I had no intention of doing a trilogy, it just happened. That’s exactly how I would describe my experience. I really never wanted to do it; it was just this version.

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

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

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

%MACIAS: Why did you choose to represent an 18th century Danish prince?

COPPOLA: There were a lot of things leading up to this moment. When you go to Copenhagen or any of those Scandinavian countries, especially in the city center, the monarchy is kind of unavoidable. Denmark has one of the oldest monarchies in the world. I’ve always had a fascination with costumes, characters and pageantry. Originally I was going to get another actor to do it, but due to COVID I had to do it myself. I wanted to see what it would be like to take someone who lives in a bubble, who is out of touch with reality, and immerse them in society. the great dictator by Charlie Chaplin was that movie that I alluded to. I was creating a character that was an amalgamation of all these different narcissistic personalities that one would assume quite removed from reality. Costumes, mannerisms, and pageantry aside, there’s something about taking past ideas of what something means and dropping them in situations you wouldn’t expect.

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

COPOLA: [Laughs] I will try anything 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 realize you had a movie trilogy. Are the films standalone or should they be consumed as a single entity?

COPPOLA: I thought of putting the three films together in one piece. But then I realized that the pace of culture, or the rate at which people consume things, is so fast. I liked the idea of ​​letting each film stand on its own, because each film is a unique entity that feeds 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 when it comes to my own movies, it’s something I never really had until I had no choice. It’s an incredibly tiring process having to direct the production and trust people to be able to capture it as it should. [you want], but there was something incredibly exciting about the experience. It gave me a lot of insight into working with actors and talent, and it opened up new ways for me to think as a storyteller.

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

MACIAS: I want to talk about the soundtrack, it’s quite special. 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 is make people feel confused. With the song “Work It,” if you listen to the lyrics, it’s, “You wanna know how I’m doing with everything? I fucking work all the time. It almost fuels the illusion of the character and fuels the headspace where he is, which is everywhere. The Camelot song that we could swap with a Perfume Genius song from the new album.

MACIAS: The other day I saw someone on Twitter saying that Perfume Genius was just America’s Björk, and it made me laugh a lot 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 brand it. Music is a really important tool, and I feel like it’s incredibly informative about how we live our inner lives. Because there’s no dialogue in this film, I’m incredibly picky about lyrics and melodies that speak. I like to let everything speak for itself and also leave a sense of mystery.

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

COPPOLA: I agree. I really think subtlety, mystery and ambiguity are what make life worth living. I want more shades. We are witnessing the resurgence of Superior gun and all those different tent poles that existed in the 90s and early 2000s because people have a hard time discovering nuance in the present. This is the type of work that interests me. I want to create work that feels new, transcendent, mysterious and ambiguous.

MACIAS: What made you think this was the right project to release now?

COPPOLA: This prince movie was basically made over two years. Little has changed. I let myself live with the films. I really wanted to take the time to confront myself with my own identity as a filmmaker. There’s this quote from David Bowie where he says, “Once you start wading through water and you feel like going too far, that’s when you have to keep going.” It’s something that I’ve really tried to pursue in my own work, to create things that I never really dreamed of doing.

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

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