In new film, Gia Coppola dissects mainstream culture

Gia Coppola felt disconnected from popular culture when she stumbled upon the ending of Elia Kazan’s 1957 satire “A Face in the Crowd” several years ago. The story of a folk truth-teller who reached dangerous levels of fame and influence on television seemed oddly prescient (and that was before he became “in fashion” again after the 2016 presidential election. ). The image of Andy Griffith laughing maniacally stuck with her.

At the same time, she was watching the rise of internet stars from afar and wondering where art fits in a world where everyone just wants to watch other people play video games and unwrap toys.

“I always felt a bit like an alien or something. What I like is a lot different, I think, from what most people like, ”said Coppola, 34. “I think now, thanks to the Internet, you are even more confronted with what rewards you.”

It was the genesis of her second feature film, “Mainstream,” in which a struggling young artist (Maya Hawke) inadvertently creates a monster when her videos of an anti-establishment loner (Andrew Garfield) go viral. The film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, is in theaters and on demand on Friday.

But even with a last name like Coppola, a well-reviewed debut film under his belt and a hot topic, it was not an easy or straightforward route to making “Mainstream”. His 2013 film “Palo Alto” ​​was an evocative look at the life of suburban teenagers who had more than a few people casting favorable comparisons to his aunt, Sofia Coppola. But that, she knew, was decidedly stranger.

Things started to fall into place after meeting Garfield through Greta Seacat, an interim trainer they both work with. Coppola doesn’t want to act. “Nothing terrifies me more,” she said. It’s just a way to better understand the actors.

And in Garfield, she found not only an actor she always admired, but a related spirit and a collaborator who would introduce her to a co-writer, Tom Stuart, and agree to star and produce the film. They spent a lot of time at what he calls “Camp Coppola” in Napa working on concepts that would end up onscreen, like when Hawke’s character Frankie spews animated emojis into a sink.

“We became quick friends and felt a kind of gentle creative connection and shared a similar kind of childish humor,” Garfield said. “He’s such a sweet soul.”

Not only could he help a friend realize his creative vision, but he could also play and experiment a little himself with the scariest concept of all – enmity.

“There is a fear of being liked by an audience and a pressure to create characters that have sympathy,” Garfield said.

His character, Link, is a sort of street corner philosopher / exhibitionist, which gives him access to “off-putting, grotesque and darker parts of ourselves.”

It also made it possible to derail with a crazy character who at one point descends (for the most part) naked on Hollywood Boulevard.

“I took a take and she said, ‘Are you okay? It was one of my favorite moments of my life. I can’t believe you did this for me. And I’m sitting there, let’s do it again (swear words)! Garfield said. “How often are we lucky enough to run on Hollywood Boulevard with our butt hanging around without being stopped?”

The guerrilla-style move, he said, was like, “Steal the reality of the people who were on the block that time and feel like you’re creating something totally alive.”

Much of the film takes place in and around the ugly and beautiful expanses of this famous street, near where Coppola grew up and now chooses to live as an adult.

“I just have a deep love for it and what it means to people on the outside and how it’s so unglamorous, but there are so many amazing characters,” Coppola said. “It kind of sounds like a metaphor for Los Angeles.”

It was a quick shoot, only 19 days, and a family affair. She used American Zoetrope, the studio that her grandfather Francis Ford Coppola founded in 1969. Her mother, Jacqui Getty, made the costumes. Her cousin Jason Schwartzman co-stars. And her uncle Roman Coppola’s tote bag company even makes an appearance.

Garfield described the Coppolas as a “moving arts center”.

“It’s a very generous family,” he says. “And it’s very, very cool to be included in this world for a while.”

And Coppola’s interests go beyond cinema. In a different family, she may have managed to rely on the famous name of dilettantism, but hers instilled a work ethic and always insisted that she have a job and pay her own bills. .

She attended bartending school, was trained at the now defunct Thomas Keller Beverly Hills branch of Bouchon, has a bachelor’s degree in photography from Bard College, shoots films and photos for fashion brands (she met Hawke on a Zac Posen project) and is deeply involved. in the wine label which bears not only his name but his photograph on the labels. She wanted the wines to be unpretentious and reflect the way she and her friends chose bottles in their 20s. This is part of the reason why there is a bottle cap instead of a cap.

However, whatever the medium – wine, fashion, photography, cinema – the aesthetic is always his uncompromising and seductive. And now that she’s taken “Mainstream” out of her system, she feels like she’s open to anything and everything and even trying out different genres – in her own way, of course.

“His uniqueness is his talent,” Garfield said. “I am so proud of her.

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