I have been called the Pirate, the Carney, and the Outcast of the Coppola Family. “Dracula’s Widow” is my first professional feature film right out of art school. I was 25. I went into like an art filmmaker, which worked for the look of the film, but I wasn’t ready for all the hardships, politics, and demands from Dino De Laurentiis. I started to go ultra-campy to get through the experience. He wanted Francis Ford Coppola, I gave them my legendary, bawdy underground film teacher George Kuchar.
Deadfall was supposed to be my “big” Hollywood movie with big-name A-list actors. It was a huge flop partly due to a change of budget, amount of shooting days, and an actor who just did whatever he wanted regardless of direction, and I did not have final cut. The director always gets the blame. I toughed it out and learned from the experience.
I raised my own money for my independent film company, Plaster City Productions, Inc., and went on to make several of my genre films, b-movies with something to say, something the other Coppola’s weren’t doing. It was my niche, so to speak. I got good at shooting with extreme conditions, lower budgets, fewer shooting days, and putting production fires out.
My extensive television work as a hired hand was my bread and butter when I was busy raising money for the next film. Episodic television is very fast. The producers liked working with me, they often saved production money because of my guerilla shooting style.
After 35 years of professional filmmaking already under my belt, I believe my films are me—a philosophical, poet, and carny artist with something to say. Everyone who has ever worked with me has said it is a larger-than-life, rugged journey and like being part of a circus family.