Famously named professor gives Hollywood insight

Daily Sundial

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Vincent Coppola, religion and film (RS 311) and philosophy professor is ready to impart his passion for film, writing and love for education to students at CSUN.

Coppola grew up in New York and quickly acquired a taste for Opera, Beethoven and Italian films.

Many Italian films were able to dig into the “nitty gritty” of the human condition Coppola said.

He traveled to California to study film in 1968 and decided to stay.

Coppola, a relative of director Francis Ford Coppola, worked in the film industry at 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures and Paramount Pictures. He was the head of The Writers Director’s Internship department at Paramount Pictures, and worked on many screenplays at all three studios.

He worked closely with producer Fernando Ghia of “The Mission,” producer David Puttnam of “Midnight Express,” and has worked with Francis Ford Coppola, director and producer of “The Godfather” film series.

Coppola worked with films from their first stage as concepts to their final stage as images on film. The filmmaking process includes coming up with ideas and writing screenplays, pre-production, and production, which is shooting the film, and postproduction, which involves editing the film.

He has written many screenplays, including a war love story called, “Lyla,” but has mainly worked as a “doctor of film,” Coppola said.

He said he rewrote screenplays that were otherwise going to be thrown out to make them usable again.

He worked with Francis Fold Coppola, on “The Conversation.” He helped in script writing, and worked on the rehearsal and the production of the film. Coppola will be presenting a showing of the movie at the Armer Screening Room, Sep 26 at 7 p.m.

“Writing and directing is my bread and butter,” he said.

Coppola said wakes up early every morning at his home in the San Fernando Valley and writes for hours.

He recently finished a novel called, “Wisdom after the Big Bang.” It is about two men, one who is insane, and one who is not, and their travels down the Amazon River, searching for the meaning of life.

“Novels fill a different need, in a different way compared to script writing.” Coppola said. He worked on his novel since 1990, and said it “matured like good wine.”

As a young writer, he received encouragement and inspiration from the famed writer Christopher Isherwood. Isherwood is best known for “The Berlin Stories” and the musical “Cabaret.”

Coppola, who at the time lived in Venice Beach, befriended Isherwood by knocking on his door in Santa Monica one day after finding out where he lived.

“I thought, he is human just like I am human,” Coppola said.

The writer invited him for tea, and they began their friendship. Isherwood shared his knowledge and talent with Coppola.

Years later, Coppola does the same thing with his students.

According to Coppola, many students come to his office and he helps them with their writing skills outside of class assignments.

After working as a teacher on and off for many years, he made his final decision to teach in 2000 and has been teaching at CSUN for three years.

“I love it,” Coppola said.

Coppola said education is very important, and his role as a teacher is to impart knowledge to the next generation.

“Acting is like desert,” Coppola said.

He was a street vender in “The Godfather II,” and was recently cast as a mad scientist in a film called, “The Irish Vampire Goes West,” directed by his friend, Pegarty Long.

Coppola has studied the greek classics, philosophy, theology, and earned his master’s of fine arts in film from UCLA. He will be teaching religion and film in Spring 2006.

Melanie saxe can be reached at melanie.saxe@hotmail.com.