Who can replace Kristin Wiig as Saturday Night Live’s leading lady? Plus, new The Dark Knight Rises posters and tips from the Coen brothers. Check out this week’s Weekly Roundup!
Baseball season returned, prompting @NYFA to ask the question, “What’s the greatest baseball film of all time?” Field of Dreams and Major League were top contenders, but what about The Sandlot, Bang The Drum Slowly, or The Bad News Bears? The Walter Matthau version anyway. Plus, our followers seem to love Netflix, streaming everything from Mad Men to X Men.
On Facebook we debated which departing Saturday Night Live cast member we’d miss the most. Kristin Wiig seems to edge out Jason Sudeikis and Andy Samberg. Though, surely they’ll all be missed.
As always we appreciate the love and support! Check out our highlights for the week. Perhaps you will be included next week.
Whatever Happened to Francis Ford Coppola?
Claude Kerven is the Department Chair of Filmmaking at the New York Film Academy’s New York City campus. He has directed over 25 shorts for Saturday Night Live. He was the director for Afterschool Specials, Birthday Boy, Candy Store, and the David Brenner Show. He also co-wrote Mortal Thoughts, starring Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, and Harvey Keitel.
Last week was the 40th Anniversary of The Godfather. I don’t know if you saw it but the AMC channel aired it repeatedly during the week. Watching those films again, it made me wonder…
Whatever happened to Francis Ford Coppola?
The Godfather was a huge influence. I mean everyone went to see it. I remember I had a friend who was ushering at the movie theater and would sneak me in. It didn’t even matter what part of the movie you came in at, you’d just watch it from there to the end. Sometimes I’d even stay to watch the beginning of the next show. We used to refer to the film as, “the Beast.” That’s how much respect we had for it. A few years later, as a film student, Scorsese became my guy (he was the filmmaker that made me want to be a filmmaker.) The Godfather was still the benchmark and with all due respect and deference to good ol’ Marty, he never made “The Beast”.
Coppola followed up with Apocalypse Now. The stories about making that film are legendary—the enormous amounts of money, equipment, and insanity that went on in the jungles. But whether you like the film or not, you can’t help but be impressed by the enormity of the undertaking and the execution. It is unquestionably the work of a master filmmaker. And then… What? What happened? He never again fulfilled the promise of his early films. It makes me sad. What went wrong? Where did Francis Ford Coppola jump the shark?
It started with a film called One From the Heart. You’ve probably never seen it. Few people have. It was a musical fantasy set in Vegas, and even though it pioneered some video-editing techniques, it was a disaster with audiences. Then there were The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. It seemed to us as young directors as the work of a desperate filmmaker who lost one audience and was trying everything he could to connect with a new one. Next he tried a Godfather knockoff, The Cotton Club. An epic crime drama, it even had the same sort of violent montage at the end. A pale imitation and another box office disaster. And finally, Godfather 3, the last ditch effort to recapture past glory. I don’t even have to tell you what a disappointment that film was.
How did such a great filmmaker lose his way? Was it the disappointing loss of Zoetrope Studios? In 1969, Coppola decided to buck the studio system, which he felt had stifled his artistic vision. He created Zoetrope to fund off-beat films by first time directors. It didn’t work. Was it the pressure of paying off the huge financial debt in which he found himself? Coppola has declared bankruptcy three times. It’s not easy holding onto a personal vision while digging yourself out of a financial hole. Or was it the tragic death of his son? Personal tragedy has a way of putting ambitions of glory in perspective. In the end, perhaps it was just the unimaginable pressure of having to equal something as great as The Godfather.
It’s hard not to reflect on the somewhat tragic trajectory of his life. Early success does have its pitfalls. Compare the careers of directors like Spielberg and Scorsese. They all started out at the same time. They were part of an avant-garde group of filmmakers that were revolutionizing Hollywood. But where Spielberg and Scorsese are viable, influential, Academy Award nominated filmmakers to this day, Francis Ford Coppola has sadly vanished from the scene. I can easily imagine him filled with deep satisfaction and appreciation of what he’s accomplished. I can also imagine him with deep regret at what could’ve been. Ultimately, I’d like to think that with age comes perspective, if not wisdom, and maybe even acceptance. What do you think? Every filmmaker has to come to grips at some point with this issue of art and commerce. How have you handled it? Or how do you envision handling it? I’d like to know.
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Many of us want to share our comedic voice with the world, but cannot break down that seemingly impenetrable wall known as Hollywood. The Harvard Lampoon has traditionally been a breeding ground for many comedy writers. With the advent of the digital age, however, people have found new alternatives. This was the case for actor Clark Duke who spoke with us in regards to his breakthrough internet series, Clark And Michael. He stars alongside best friend Michael Cera who’s also had a breakthrough career with Arrested Development, Superbad, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,and Juno. Clark Duke originally wrote and directed the pilot as his college thesis film. The series gained notoriety, and it was picked up by CBS Internet Television.
“The internet is the greatest thing that ever happened.” Who can argue with Clark after his success? Clark recommends film students try a similar path. “If something is good, people will find it. This is an arena that didn’t exist before. I mean, where else can you do ten minute comedy sketches?” You could audition for Saturday Night Live but you’d be competing with the thousands of others also vying for a spot on that coveted roster. There is a paradigm shift happening in the entertainment industry. With the success of shows such as Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog in an era ushered forth by the Youtube phenomenon, Clark Duke represents Hollywood’s growing need to adapt. The only problem that Clark mentioned in regards to online content is the inability to really monetize the platform. It can help you, however, get noticed—as long as you use the platform to make a case for your talent and vision. We’re also pretty sure Clark doesn’t have to worry about money these days. He’s already appeared in Sex Drive, Kickass, and Hot Tub Time Machine. Now Clark is starring alongside Eddie Murphy in the new comedy A Thousand Words while developing a feature script. He is using his success in order to realize the dreams he had fresh out of film school. Clark Duke just had a different approach on getting there.