Francis Ford Coppola is no stranger to disastrous film shoots. The making of The Godfather was so wild that Paramount+ made a limited series about it. Apocalypse Now begat a gripping documentary. Both produced timeless masterpieces. On Monday, rumors swirled that something similar was happening on the set of his self-financed, star-studded dream project Megalopolis, claiming that there’d been a “crew exodus,” “chaos” and a “ballooning budget.” But Coppola and other key players are laughing that talk off.
“I’ve never worked on a film where I was so happy with the cast,” Coppola told Deadline, shooting down some of the wilder rumors. He continued:
“I am so happy with the look and that we are so on schedule. These reports never say who these sources are. To them, I say, ha, ha, just wait and see. Because this is a beautiful film and primarily so because the cast is so great. I’ve never enjoyed working with a cast who are so hardworking and so willing to go search for the unconventional, to come upon hidden solutions. It is a thrill to work with these actors and the photography is everything I could hope for. The dailies are great. So if we’re on schedule, and I love the actors and the look is great, I don’t know what anyone’s talking about here.”
Coppola did acknowledge that there have been some crew turnovers. One major change mid-stride was switching up the VFX department. He was using on-set virtual production, which involves mostly or completely doing the special effects first then placing the actors on a volume, which includes a wall of LED screens. It’s how they shot The Mandalorian. But they decided it would cut costs to do it the old fashioned way with green screen, so they can add effects in post-production.
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“It was basically about managing cost,” Coppola said.
Coppola wasn’t the only one who weighed in. So did Adam Driver, who stars in the film, about replacing a destroyed city with a new metropolis. “All good here! Not sure what set you’re talking about! I don’t recognize that one! I’ve been on sets that were chaotic and this one is far from it,” Driver told Deadline. He continued:
“The environment that’s being created by Francis, is one of focus and inspiration. As of now, we’re on schedule, making our days, and honestly, it’s been one of the best shooting experiences I’ve had. Our crew is fast and inventive, our costume department is on point, the actors are incredible and willing, and Francis is one of the most insightful and caring people to work with. I’m very proud to be making this movie with him, and them, and though I haven’t interviewed everyone, I can confidently say that that’s the general attitude on set.”
Driver suggested the film is unlike most shoots, but that shouldn’t be a bad thing. “No one signed up for this movie expecting the process to be conventional. We were expecting the opposite in the pursuit of making something unique,” Driver said. “The only madness I’ve observed is that more productions aren’t allowed to be as creatively wild and experimentally focused, precisely because someone else is paying for it. It’s an effort and risk by Francis that I feel should be applauded, not publicly mischaracterized as troubled.”
Coppola even seemed confident that the film wouldn’t get out of control, like Apocalypse Now, which went wildly over budget and whose shoot stretched on for over a year. “We’ll finish the film in spring of 2023, and we’re totally on schedule, which is hard to do on a big picture,” Coppola said. “I don’t know how many films can say that eight weeks in but we are and that’s a fact.”
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Perhaps this is bad news for those hoping for another notorious Francis Ford Coppola shoot that winds up birthing a masterpiece. Still, it sounds like there’s just enough good chaos to give us one of those anyway.