Consider these two clips of Francis Coppola. The first [starting at the 59-second mark] was shot by his wife Eleanor during the 1976 Philippine shoot of Apocalypse Now, when Coppola was 37 or 38. The second [after the jump] is a portion of last month’s Tribeca Film Festival discussion between an 80 year-old Coppola and director Steven Soderbergh, following the debut of Apocalypse Now: Final Cut.
One can’t help but note the stark differences — the aggressive energy and hyper-judgmental focus that Coppola had 42 years ago vs. the wiser, calmer, more long-viewish Coppola who intends to finally start shooting Megalopolis later this year or certainly by 2020.
The clips remind us that the combination of hunger, ambition and brash nerve are probably more vital when it comes to making a strong film than the application of seasoned wisdom and last-lap reflection. Directing is a young or middle-aged-man’s game. I’m not saying you can’t hang in there and deliver in your 60s, ’70s or ’80s, but by and large directors make their best films between their late 20s and mid 50s. Why? Because they’re more dogged, tenacious and determined during those decades.