Christian Coppola is a 24-year-old filmmaker who happens to be a distant relative of the Francis Ford Coppola family — but he wants very much to succeed on his own merits.
“I’m not close enough to get invited for Thanksgiving dinner,” he told Variety recently. “There’s no real direct connection. I really see myself as my own entity and I want to tell my stories.”
He’s completed a short film, “Daddy,” with a pair of recognizable actors — Ron Rifkin of “Brothers & Sisters” and Dylan Sprouse (“The Suite Life of Zack and Cody”) — in starring roles. Coppola shot the film over three days at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in late January.
After the death of his wife, an 80-year-old man (Rifkin) checks into the Plaza Hotel to celebrate their first anniversary apart, hiring a male escort (Sprouse) to take her place. Both actors were his first choices.
He’s currently editing with Nick Rondeau and hopes to finish “Daddy” by the summer in time to get the movie into film festivals and provide a springboard for his next project.
Coppola grew in the Highland Park suburb of Dallas, describing it as “Beverly Hills without the palm trees.” His parents — a realtor and a stay-at-home mom — had no major interest in movies but have always been supportive of his ambition to make films for the past two decades, dating back to his watching “The Wizard of Oz” on TV when he was four.
“I was wrapped in a blanket on the floor to protect myself during the tornado,” he recalled
The questions about being related to the Coppola family increased when he enrolled at the New York University’s Tisch Film School. His thesis film “Him” wound up being included in last year’s Outfest and gave him the encouragement to press on.
Coppola met producer Krista Worby last year through a mutual friend at the Erewhon natural food store in Venice and, over coffee, persuaded her to come on board. Worby worked on Beyonce’s “Lemonade” TV special and her “Sandcastles” video.
“Having the name used to make me uneasy,” he admitted. “Now, it’s kind of irrelevant because I’ve got to get this film finished and it’s taking up most of my time. If you see a guy nervously pacing the street in the middle of the night, it’s probably me.”