Gia Coppola is one of the many directors for the film The Seven Faces of Jane, starring Gillian Jacobs.
The film follows a mother named Jane, played by Jacobs, who has a seemingly mundane life. After dropping off her daughter at a sleepaway camp, she finds herself being taken on a journey. The film’s plot can be compared to the ancient Greek story The Odyssey, as both protagonists are taken on a journey with the hopes of returning home. Jane goes through various obstacles, and with the help of seven filmmakers, they guide her through each chapter.
Roman Coppola produced the film and had the vision of using the “Exquisite Corpse” concept, which is a method of creating art by collectively assembling parts to create a whole. The movie consists of eight chapters representing each director that took part in the film’s development. The directors for the film include Gia Coppola, Julian Acosta, Xan Cassavetes, Ryan Heffington, Boma Iluma, Ken Jeong, Alex Takacs, and Gillian Jacobs, who also stars in the film. This unique format allowed each of them to direct their segments, unaware of what each of them was creating. This method allowed them to showcase their creative spirits and artistic styles as directors.
The Knockturnal spoke with Coppola about this process and what she hopes viewers will take away from this film.
The Knockturnal: Tell me a little bit about the film and what do you hope fans and viewers will take away from it?
Gia Coppola: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if you are, you know, anyone’s familiar with that sort of exquisite corpse game that sort of that childhood game, that you play when you’re like a kid at dinner and bored with all the adults and like need to do something to stay awake. And like, one person goes ahead and then kind of draws a few little lines to like signal, what the shoulders will be for the next person, you fold that piece of paper until you kind of have this full, unique character that everyone participated in. Roman had this sort of ingenious idea of like, what if we did that with film? Like, how could you even possibly try to figure out how to execute that? And I knew when he was talking about this concept that I really wanted to be included. And just, you know, as an exercise, like, I was so fascinated by it, and he did it in the most fun way. Like we all the directors came together on a zoom and we had this raffle. And like, it did pick a certain category or, you know, a challenge or what sort of feature you had to showcase. And, you know, if you didn’t, if you didn’t like, what you were w=hat you got, then you can kind of barter with another director. And so I guess I hope when people watch it, just to appreciate what an experiment it is in filmmaking, to try and find a bunch of directors come together and try to tell you the five story, you know, it’s not just a bunch of short films put together it’s all of us trying to find the character arc with for our character, but without really knowing much else behind it. And yes, just sort of adventure story.
The Knockturnal: In the film Jane’s journey is similar to that of the odyssey in terms of Odysseus and his journey home. During the creation process what were some things you had to keep in mind for each scene?
Gia Coppola: Yeah, I mean, I know when Roman was also kind of thinking about how can this possibly come together? But it’s kind of a hero’s journey. What’s the structure here that could support like a bunch of different people coming together? And so we did it in the structure of a hero’s journey where a mom drops her daughter off at camp. What are all the crazy things that could ensue or, you know, anything can potentially happen? In this narrative that would still kind of make sense, as she kind of came back to the, to the beginning. And I was always really interested in that and wanting to play with like, okay, how can I really shake this up? And like, what would layer? You know, the other ideas if we and my writing partner, we came up with the idea of like, what if she was a twin and then you know, you don’t understand which twin you’re left with by the end of it, then it could sort of have pepper in on all the other narratives and play with, like, the perception of as the story continues. But yeah, I mean, I feel like you definitely don’t see this often of like, playing with the medium in unique ways, which I think is really fun and exciting.
The Knockturnal: You co-directed this film with Gillian Jacobs who also stars in the film. So what was it like working together and what was the entire creative process like?
Gia Coppola: I mean, she’s a trooper, I feel like she had the hardest job of all of us of like, having to retain like, everyone’s different vision. And like, what does that mean for her character? And her segment is the first one. So she really kicked off the whole narrative, but, I mean, we all put her through so many different challenges. You know, I’m making her do stunts, and then there’s, you know, emotional trauma, there’s dance, and she just kind of went for it, which I think is so courageous and such an attribute to her as a performer. How multi talented she is, but it was really fun. And it was awesome that she was up for it all. Like I think that’s rare.
The Knockturnal: What was it like working with the entire cast? What was a typical day like on set?
Gia Coppola: Well a lot of it was sort of a mystery, like the heads of department like the cinematographer and art department and costumers and producers, of course, knew what each director was doing. But none of the directors knew what each other were doing. So you would sometimes like think that you found out a clue, but you just never knew how they had all the inside information. And you’re just trying to like pry it felt kind of like Christmas? Or like some sort of thing that you’re anticipating having no idea what’s gonna happen. And finally, you know, seeing it come together was really exciting.
The Knockturnal: How long did the overall process take?
Gia Coppola: Well, I think being Romans niece, I kind of heard about the concept from a while back. And I was always intrigued, but I think it took a while to really figure out how to make sure that it could be executed properly. So I remember him talking about it like months before we actually got into production, which was like in August. And then I mean, we finished, I feel like we’d finished completely by Christmas, just because it’s so many different moving parts and like, organizing everyone’s schedules, like, not only did Gillian have to, hold so much, but the challenge for all the producers like having to try to figure out how to execute this. And, you know, everyone having just two days do each, each segment. That was a whole like, giant puzzle piece. I have no idea how they figured it out.
The Knockturnal: Earlier you mentioned that, sitting with your writer for your portion of the film. So while taking Romans idea and implementing your own creative aspects into it, what were some things that you found challenging or easy?
Gia Coppola: I mean, to think in a short form narrative, like what is going to be exciting for just that amount of time that you’re having to think about other people and how they’re going to step into your story without having much context. I’m stepping into Gillian’s segment without knowing what started before me and I’m having to give something that I wanted or we wanted to have a cliffhanger so that whatever happens in the segment following us that the audience would be left with a little bit of curiosity or a question or an added layer to the character. And, also just things that are exciting to me as a director, like I never get to play with stunts and body doubles and things like technical ideas that I wanted to play with and tell him all ideas I wanted to play with.
The Knockturnal: Along with being a director, you’re also a producer, actress, and writer. So when you step into each role, what’s something that you keep in mind?
Gia Coppola: Well, I don’t know how I got labeled as an actor, I think, because I was extra, and some of my family’s things that now I’m way below that as an actress, but it’s literally, like, one of those things I’m most terrified of being in front of the camera. I just like doing things behind the camera, but I find that I can’t do one without the other. Like, I can’t direct without producing because that just seems like part of the job is to help put things together like you don’t want to just come in and like you know, say we’re certain chess pieces are like I want to develop it and get immersed in it and understand it and like why do I want to say this? Like what? What’s exciting for me? What am I gaining about this emotionally in my own personal journey? And I think that’s why I want to make things and make art is to keep discovering. What fuels me and excites me and interests me and even if that’s in you know, fun playful ways of practicing my craft and and so it only makes sense to have to have my hands in all of the pots.
The Knockturnal: If someone were to ask you to describe this film in 3 words, which words would you use?
Gia Coppola: Three words. Experimental, fun, and adventurous.
The Knockturnal: What advice would you like to give to aspiring filmmakers?
Gia Coppola: I’ve been feeling like we are all such unique beings and the more you can tell stories that feel close to you, it’s such a gift to everyone else. You kind of learn about the world as you see it, or has you feel it or what you experienced and be dropped into other people’s point of views and the mor e variety of point of views we have, the better. And that I’m very interested in sort of using the weapons at hand and like what’s available to you and just go out and make it. And we’re in a time of technology that sort of helps facilitate that we have iPhones that shoot 4k. Sean Baker makes movies on his iPhone, and they’re amazing, and they’re beautiful, they’re complex. Make things with the people around you and closest to you, because it’s fun to make movies with the people you enjoy. Or you know, tell stories, whatever medium you choose, and do things that feel true to you. Everyone’s gonna say that they can do your job better than you, but don’t listen to them.
The Knockturnal: Please tell us about your upcoming projects or anything else you would like to mention?
Gia Coppola: Yeah, we just announced that we’re in production on a documentary about fandom for boy bands, which has been really fun. It’s called Superfans: Screaming. Crying. Throwing Up. It’s with Aggregate, XTR, and my production company I just founded called Detour with my writing partner on Seven Faces Of Jane, Nick Itwataki. It’s been a really fun world to get immersed in, people loving something so passionately. I get to be in a space where people are just loving something.