Frances Ford Coppola has completed a monthlong student workshop at his alma mater, the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, which has served as “proof of concept” for what the director calls “Live Cinema.” The project called Distant Vision, a 19th century term for television, tells the story of three generations of an Italian-American family whose own history spans the development of television. Distant Vision received a live, closed-circuit broadcast to a limited audience from UCLA TFT’s Freud Playhouse on July 22.
More than 75 UCLA TFT students and faculty participated in the project, which Coppola, who received an M.F.A. in Theater Arts in 1967, wrote and directed. They served as active crew members in all areas of production, including operating over 40 cameras, acting, sound, set design and construction, costume, props, editing, stage management and producing. UCLA TFT co-sponsored the workshop with American Zoetrope, Coppola’s production company.
Coppola’s “Live Cinema,” which he has been developing over the past few years, utilizes feeds from a multitude of cameras, instant replay servers, and other sources, all of which the director can switch among. Performed live, the results are viewed by an audience in real time. The goal is a look and feel that is more cinematic than what is typically employed for live dramatic and musical broadcasts, with the in-the-moment energy of a live event.
“I felt the need to experiment in order to learn the actual methodology of ‘Live Cinema,’ which is a hybrid of theater, film and television,” Coppola explained. The shot is the basic element, as in film; the live performance is from theater; and the advanced television technology to enable it is borrowed from TV sports. It is very exciting to work in.”
“It is our greatest honor to warmly welcome our most treasured alumnus Francis Ford Coppola back to his alma mater,” UCLA TFT dean Teri Schwartz said. “We are thrilled to have UCLA TFT serve as the workshop home for Distant Vision, Francis’ groundbreaking new creative project.”
See what the workshop looks like here.