Over his nearly 30-year career, Roman Coppola has forged his own hybrid of a path, directing two feature films, TV shows (including Mozart in the Jungle), music videos, and commercials for the likes of Coca-Cola, Prada, and Toyota. The son of Francis Ford Coppola and older brother of Sofia Coppola has even dipped into entrepreneurship with his company Photobubble, a gigantic inflatable and customizable space for shooting film and photography he created to satisfy a client’s ask.
“[My career] was not something I planned or designed–it just sort of unfolded that way,” Coppola says in the latest episode of Fast Company‘s podcast Creative Conversation. “I’m a very curious person, and when I get an invitation to do something I haven’t done before, I tend to take it, as part of my nature. I joke around with my wife where I’m starting a new philosophy called ‘intuition-ism.'”
In addition to his own credits, Coppola has become something of a creative problem solver for others. His friend and longtime collaborator Wes Anderson has affectionately referred to Coppola as his Swiss Army knife. Coppola worked on several of both Anderson’s films and his sister Sofia’s films, including Moonrise Kingdom, The Darjeeling Limited, Isle of Dogs, Marie Antoinette, and Virgin Suicides in a variety of roles (producer, writer, second unit director, etc.).
In this week’s Creative Conversation episode, Coppola explains his new philosophy of “intuition-ism,” how to collaborate without being controlling, and methods for pushing past mental roadblocks.
Collaborate, don’t control
“Often when someone’s working, you get a little bottled up or you don’t have everything figured out. A sounding board is a helpful thing, and you want your sounding board to be have your best interest [at heart] and to not try to nudge in their ideas. And you want your sounding board to resonate with what resonates with you. And so in the case of Wes and Sofia in particular, we have that relationship. I just want Wes to make this movie. I’m not trying to get my ideas in or do anything other than to allow it to pass it. And so I’m just there to serve him.”
Don’t rush the process
“For me, the features that I’ve done are very close to my heart. They tended to be kind of odd, and they’re not so well known. But it was just my need after working for other people so much just–this is going to be my thing. And to be honest, they don’t really occur to me that frequently. It’s not like I have this burning need every year to make a film. You have to build to it–that inevitable place where it’s going to happen, and that can take a few years.”
Push forward until you get a result
“A lot of times I’ll do a [crossword] puzzle. I’ll get as far as I can and I’ll say the puzzle made a mistake because there can’t be a word that fits. But if you can understand that there is not a mistake and that you need to figure it out, if you put it down or maybe take a moment or think again or go over it again, you will get further. Now I can’t say everyone will solve every crossword puzzle, but that place that tends to stop you because you don’t see it, if you try harder you will likely finish it or get further. My 2¢ advice would be, Push forward, and have confidence that if you push forward, you will get a result.”