Published July 19, 2013
PARIS (AFP) – Making original films in Hollywood is now so difficult that director Roman Coppola says he resorted to giving his own clothes to Charlie Sheen to wear during the shooting of their new movie.
The 12 years since Coppola -- son of Francis Ford Coppola, sister of director Sofia and cousin of actors Nicholas Cage and Jason Schwartzman -- made his 2001 directorial debut with "CQ" are littered with projects he says he failed to get off the ground.
His long-delayed return to the director's chair, "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III", starring Sheen, was only made after Coppola dispensed with what he calls traditional directorial aspirations such as "an appropriate budget" and "sets".
And Coppola said he was happy to be able to help his old friend Sheen back into movies. The actor starred in the US hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men" from 2003 to 2011 before being fired in March 2011 following public attacks on the show's creator.
"I liked that he hadn't made a movie in so long. It was fun to reintroduce him to the screen," he said.
Coppola describes the budget for "Swan" as "very modest", adding that it was privately funded after he found getting financial backing in Hollywood "basically impossible".
"I shot at my home, Charlie wore a lot of my clothes. I worked with many of my friends and relatives. I shot at my office, I used my car, things were very intimate. It was really the only way to make this production," he told AFP from Los Angeles.
Since 2001, Coppola has co-written "The Darjeeling Limited" with Wes Anderson and Schwartzman and "Moonrise Kingdom" with Anderson.
He has also directed music videos for Moby, Fatboy Slim and Marianne Faithfull, founded a production company and was a producer on sister Sofia's film "The Bling Ring".
Citing his other interests, Coppola said there was no "exact reason" for the hiatus in his directing career except "perhaps just the general lack of support for unique movies."
"It's very rare... basically nonexistent that a movie will be funded in Hollywood that doesn't point to a precedent and can say 'this is an example of how this one would make money'," he said.
"I'd rather make fewer movies that are more unique than make things that are too familiar, which is the trend these days," he said, adding that he viewed the French film industry as more welcoming of "adventurousness".
Coppola is the latest in a string of leading US film industry figures to highlight the difficulties of making films in Hollywood.
At the Cannes film festival earlier this year, Steven Soderbergh, Michael Douglas and screenwriter Richard LaGravenese said many actors, directors and writers were looking to the small screen as a place for greater artistic freedom and easier financing.
Soderbergh, the director who made his name with "Sex, Lies and Videotape", had to turn to US cable TV giant HBO to fund his Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra", starring Douglas and written by LaGravenese, after mainstream Hollywood shied away from the gay storyline.
"Swan", also featuring Schwartzman, Bill Murray and Patricia Arquette, has already been released in the US.
Set in mid-1970s Los Angeles, the movie tells the story of a graphic designer played by Sheen whose girlfriend leaves him.
But if financing the film was a struggle, Coppola says he is happy with the result.
"It all turned out to be quite a blessing because when there are fewer resources you have to be more creative with solutions," he said.
"To me it was very essential to make this movie without interference."