Back after a decade with a new film featuring Hollywood eccentrics Bill Murray and Charlie Sheen, the cult filmmaker speaks to us about his Four Stories short film project
Fabulously eccentric filmmaker Roman Coppola is at the heart of a new short film project, Four Stories, funded by hotel chain W Hotels and software giant Intel. Along with clocking up music video credits with The Strokes, Marianne Faithful and Daft Punk, Coppola is a long time collaborator with little sis Sophia (Lost In Translation) and lovable quirk Wes Anderson (writing Moonrise Kingdom together). Over 1000 writers from around the world sent in scripts, out of which four brilliant and funny films were made. The ten-minute scripts had to be part set in one of W Hotels’s fancy pants hotels and incorporate a computer. Coppola also added a fifth short, a satisfyingly bonkers film that he described as “an intergalactic vampire story that goes wrong”. His forthcoming feature — his first in ten years as director — stars those infamous joys Charlie Sheen and Bill Murray, a prospect that already has us fizzing at the mouth.
Dazed Digital: Where did the Four Stories project begin?
Roman Coppola: We started this project four months ago. I thought it would be an interesting way to spend some time. I’d never done a short film, except for at NYU. I thought it would be an interesting invitation, I’d get to see some fresh ideas and be involved.
DD: Do you approach a short more like a music video or feature?
Roman Coppola: It’s hard to say. Often my films are like pieces kind of like — mosaic sounds too rarefied — but a collage of ideas and imagery, so I do tend to think of a scene or a short thing that is a few minutes long, a scene in a movie is like a few minutes long usually. But this film that I did was more in the spirit of a music video, it’s very simple.
DD: Was there a gap in directing for a particular reason?
Roman Coppola: Not really. I’ve always been directing, but the projects are often commercial. But you know, I’m a very curious person, I get invitations to things, like to do a movie in India, and I’ll say yes often. So my curiosity, my interest, has brought me on these other adventures.
DD: Your films always feel very personal, do you put a lot of yourself in?
Roman Coppola: My favourite movies like Annie Hall or Fellini movies feel really personal and that’s the kind of area that seems most interesting to me. It can be cathartic or have some deeper satisfaction from accomplishing that, but I love entertainment.
DD: 'Charles Swan' is going to get a lot of attention because of Charlie Sheen, was he always in your mind for the role?
Roman Coppola: He was not initially, that was a project that took me a long time to figure out and to write, I just had a lot of notes that I kept for a long time. I knew I wanted to do a portrait of a very charming and childlike character that was dealing with this romantic problem and it took me a little while to figure out, and just as I was finishing it, I realised he would be perfect for it, but I didn’t write with him in mind.
DD: Directing Charlie Sheen and Bill Murray must have been like herding cats.
Roman Coppola: Yeah, it was hard to get them initially to agree to the schedule. There was a certain support and interest I got from both of them, but to get them to show up took a bit of wrangling. They had a wonderful report and they got along very well, they’re both very funny and witty. It was really fun to see them work together.
DD: Was making a short for Four Stories an opportunity to experiment?
Roman Coppola: Very much so. That’s one of the reasons I took this opportunity, I hadn’t done a short film, ever. But I appear in the movie, in the short as a performer, I don’t think you can say actor. So I did that because I thought that would be interesting and a stimulating experience to be in front of the camera. So I appear in the short is a new experience for me.
DD: Will it be 10 years till you direct your next film?
Roman Coppola: I hope not, although I didn’t do that by design, it’s just in my nature to do other things. I enjoyed making this recent film, I’m very proud of it; I’m enthused by the experience.
Roman Coppola collaborated with Intel and W Hotels on 'Four Stories' to discover rising filmmaking talent; view these films online at www.youtube.com/fourstories