Way back in 1974, two acclaimed filmmakers decided to sit down for a wide-ranging conversation around creativity, production and cinema as a whole. The two directors in question were none other than Francis Ford Coppola and Biran De Palma.
The discussion was printed as part of a rolling feature in well-respected publication Filmmakers Newsletter, a journal that reached out to filmmakers to provide an open platform for discussion. We’re taking a look back today and trying to learn as much as we can form two idols of the cinema world.
At the time of this interview, Francis Ford Coppola was in the midst of a filmmaking whirlwind which had seen him transcend from commercial success into critical acclaim. Still riding the wave of success following the release of The Godfather two years earlier, Coppola was not content to rest on his laurels. Instead, that same year, 1974, saw Coppola release The Godfather II, The Great Gatsby and The Conversation.
Brian De Palma, the second filmmaker in this feature and equally as impressive, has enjoyed 50 years in the film industry and has his name tied to some incredibly successful projects. After interviewing Coppola in this article, De Palma went on to create Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Scarface, The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible just to name a few. Perhaps he gathered some valuable points form the more senior filmmaker.
Amid the box office success Coppola was enjoying at the time, De Palma decided to centre his questions around The Conversation, a film that somewhat struggled upon release but has since gone on to gain a major fanbase with many considering it Coppola’s finest work. A smart move from a filmmaker likely already bored of answering the same old questions about his smash hit.
The film, a 1974 mystery thriller, stars the likes of Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford, Teri Garr and more and revolves around a surveillance expert and the moral dilemma he faces when his recordings reveal a potential murder.
Coppola made no secret of the fact that the 1966 film Blowup was a key influence on the making of this film but it was the timing if its release that captured the hearts of many. The Conversation, arriving at cinemas just a matter of weeks before the resignation of Richard Nixon, led fans pairing Coppola’s work as a reaction to Watergate scandal.
Below, see both filmmakers discussing its creation:
(Via: Euston Films)