Francis Ford Coppola On Art, Copying And File Sharing: We Want You To Take From Us

from the first-step dept

Paul Tamm points us to a really wonderful interview with filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, which touches on a whole variety of different topics, but a couple of quotes are likely to be interesting to folks around here. For example, he's asked about copying works of other filmmakers and whether or not he tries to "veer away" from the masters of the craft to create his own style, and he responds brilliantly:
I once found a little excerpt from Balzac. He speaks about a young writer who stole some of his prose. The thing that almost made me weep, he said, "I was so happy when this young person took from me." Because that's what we want. We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can't steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that's how you will find your voice.

And that's how you begin. And then one day someone will steal from you. And Balzac said that in his book: It makes me so happy because it makes me immortal because I know that 200 years from now there will be people doing things that somehow I am part of. So the answer to your question is: Don't worry about whether it's appropriate to borrow or to take or do something like someone you admire because that's only the first step and you have to take the first step.
While (of course), I always dislike the incorrect use of the term "stealing," I found this to be quite an insightful answer from someone who is certainly in a position to pretend otherwise. However, throughout history we've heard similar (if much less eloquent) claims from others. Ray Charles famously made similar points about copying his music (shamelessly) from others to create his own unique sound (and invent soul music in the process).

Immediately after this, he's asked about business models, and he notes:
This idea of Metallica or some rock n' roll singer being rich, that's not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I'm going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you'd be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, "Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money." Because there are ways around it.
While some will misinterpret this to mean that artists shouldn't make money, that's not what he's saying at all. He's saying it shouldn't be presumed that they automatically must make money -- or that if they are to make money, that it needs to come from the film directly.

Filed Under: art, copying, francis ford coppola, free, sharing


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Not an electronic Rodent, 23 Jan 2011 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    When he is he going to accept that free is the future and start giving away ad space and giving presentations for free?
    Well I'm assuming you already know this because it's pretty obvious but choose not to acknowledge it because it doesn't fit your world view but lets give it a go.
    First: Value != Price
    I can value someone elses opinion without them charging me for it.
    On the other hand in a FREE market: Price ALWAYS = value because if your customer does not value something you offer they will not pay for it.

    In the case of the adverts, Techdirt charge for them because people are willing to pay. In this case Mike's comments and opinion, whether valuable in and of themselves or have a monetary value, attract an audience with value to the advertisers that they are willing to pay for. Mike offers a scarce resource (us all in one place) and someone else gets to say whether the monetary value asked for it is worthwhile to them.

    For ad space it is a resource that cannot be copied. In the case of his words, then these can be copied and used elsewhere and so, while of potential value they have little or no monetary component. BUT just because someone copies Mike's words elsewhere does not transfer the value of them not the attractiveness to advertisers.

    Again: You get to sell what people will pay for and attempting to legislate an artificially high monetary value that people do not percive exists is doomed to failure.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.