Coppola. A name immediately associated with big cinema. If it’s the genes, the experiences or simply the connections, it doesn’t matter. This family clan always seems to do it right. So it’s no surprise that these days all eyes seem to be on Gia Coppola, who wants to prove she can add her own trademark to the prestigious name. As PALO ALTO hits cinemas this week we present you this rising talent. Because Gia is way more than just “The daughter of…“.
Even though Gia got to know the world of cinema from early on, she decided to study photography at Bard College. But after receiving her degree three years later she wasn’t interested in pursuing it as a career. Instead she chose to become a bartender for a bit. A Coppola behind a bar, polishing glasses, mixing drinks and taking out trash? Not necessarily what you would have expected. But as many other young students, Gia was doubting what she wanted to do and who she wanted to be. So she tried something different “to see what I could get out of it.” After quitting her job behind the bar, she discovered that her actual passion was neither photography nor bartending but cinema. Not very surprising, since she’s the granddaughter of Francis Ford and niece of Sophia Coppola.
But still she took her time to create her own voice, instead of just profiting from her name. She started making short films and was hired to shoot a commercial for fashion label Opening Ceremony. Here you can see the influence especially Sophia had on her niece’s aesthetic. It’s music- heavy with a quirkily inventive narrative, which resembles a lot the 2006 film Marie Antoinette.
Shortly after that she met the all around talent James Franco. Besides being actor, artist and poet he had just published his first novel Palo Alto. He approached Gia after having seen some of her short movies and photographs. Even though she had never shot a complete film on her own, Franco proposed her to turn his book into a movie: “He told me ‚’Pick the stories that you like, just write interior/exterior and don’t worry about dialogue, and we’ll go from there’“ A huge opportunity and a challenge, especially in creating her own vision while being judged more critically just because of her name.
The film focuses on a group of angst Californian high school students in the search of love, meaning and themselves. As with her aunt’s early films, Gia looks at the concerns of teenagers negotiating the move to adulthood. But, as opposed to Sophia, her characters want to engage with life and not drown in boredom. Coppola describes it as the feeling of „being young, aimless and trying to articulate your emotions.“ A feeling to which she can relate well, claiming she was more of an underdog and introverted person herself in high school. Even though the cast list reads itself like a family tree of hollywood (Emma Watson, niece of Julia Roberts as well as Jack Klimer, son of Val Klimer), Gia chose them only for what they present as a character.
All in all PALO ALTO is a promising debut and we are curious to see her work evolving in the future. Like Zac Posen, for whom she shot a commercial, said: “She’s going to be the next Coppola force to be reckoned with. They just genetically, aesthetically have something- they’re able to capture magic.“