While many renowned film directors like David Fincher started out their careers directing music videos. It’s a place where filmmakers get their training. Some like Fincher, Spike Jonze, and Michel Gondry have gone on to having great film careers while occasionally do music videos. Other video directors end up making terrible films as they retreated back to the world of music videos. While Sofia Coppola doesn’t really fall into either camp, she has started out her filmmaking career with videos. By 2008, she’s directed five videos and two ads that has helped raise her profile as a prominent director.
While Coppola had appeared in a few music videos including The Black Crowes’ Sometimes Salvation, Madonna’s Deeper and Deeper, and Sonic Youth’s Mildred Pierce in the early 90s. Coppola’s first directorial job came in the form of a music video for the early 90s indie group Walt Mink that featured famed drummer Joey Waronker. The song Shine was shot by Coppola’s then-boyfriend at the time in Spike Jonze, who was then a famed video director in his own right. Shot on location at the Coppola home including family vineyard, the video has a dreamy quality with editing dissolves. While the video has a somewhat grainy look as if it was shot in 16mm, it’s a video that predates what Coppola would do as a director in terms of capturing dreamy images. Even as it’s presented simply where the band is playing at a pool party with friends and such.
Coppola’s next music video directorial job came in the form of one of the most revered bands of the past two decades in The Flaming Lips. For the clip of the song This Here Giraffe, the video has a cleaner look in which Coppola follows singer Wayne Coyne around as he plays in a girl’s bedroom while joining the rest of the band to a trip to the zoo. The video features Leslie Hayman, an associate of Coppola who would later appear in the 1999 film The Virgin Suicides as the eldest Lisbon sister Therese, along with shots of the band playing on someone’s front yard and a giraffe at the zoo. The video also has shots from moving cars as well as dreamy close-ups that become trademarks of Coppola’s directing style.
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The next two videos Coppola directed both come from the films she made. The first is Air’s Playground Love which she co-directed with her brother and famed video director Roman Coppola. The video is essentially clips of The Virgin Suicides that’s inter-cut with a piece of gum singing the song through various scenes like the Libson family eating a dinner table, being on the steering wheel of Trip Fontaine’s car, and being under Trip‘s desk. Then it goes to a sequence where Leslie Hayman gets the gum out of her shoe as they’re set to shoot the prom dance scene. It’s definitely a fun, quirky video where a piece of gum becomes the centerpiece of the video.
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The second film-related video clip Coppola directs is for Kevin Shields’ City Girl for the film Lost in Translation. While the video is essentially various shots from the film plus a few extended shots and an outtake towards the end of the video. Yet, it plays well to Kevin Shields’ lyrics of isolation relating towards the character of Charlotte as she wanders around the mystery of Tokyo. Though it’s not as creative as other videos that Coppola had done in the past, it’s still a fascinating companion piece to the film itself.
The last music video she directed, so far, is a cover of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David composition I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself by the White Stripes. The video for that song has Coppola shooting model Kate Moss in black and white doing a pole dance as well as dancing on a big block. With Moss wearing skimpy clothing and dancing quite erotically, the video was only released in the U.K. Though it rarely showed on MTV2 back in 2003, it was considered too racy for American audiences as it is truly Sofia Coppola’s crowning achievement in her short but varied career in the world of music videos.
With most film directors also taking the chance to do commercials, Sofia Coppola also takes part in the world of ads. In 2008, Coppola directed ads for Christian Dior’s Miss Dior Cherie fragrance that starred model Maryna Linchuk. Unlike most commercials, Coppola adds a playful style by having Linchuk going around Paris while modeling and doing other things as it ends with her floating away on balloons like The Red Balloon. The look of the video is reminiscent of Coppola's 2006 Marie Antoinette yet not as exaggerated as the film intended to do. Featuring the song Moi Je Joue by Brigitte Bardot, it’s a fun commercial while two director’s cut version have extended sequences of Linchuk walking around Paris. It’s definitely an interesting yet fun commercial that is done with great style.
While there’s another Dior ad in the works that Coppola directed that will star Natalie Portman. Coppola’s work in videos and ads is certainly a fine companion piece to the feature films she’s made over the years. Yet, it’s also a testament to how she’s evolved and refine her craft that makes her one of the most exciting and intriguing visionaries in film. For anyone who is a fan of her work should check out these clips.
Sofia Coppola Reviews: Lick the Star - The Virgin Suicides - Lost in Translation - Marie Antoinette - Somewhere - The Bling Ring - A Very Murray Christmas - On the Rocks - (The Custom of the Century)
Sofia Coppola Soundtracks: Air-The Virgin Suicides - The Virgin Suicides OST - Lost in Translation OST - Marie Antoinette OST - (The Bling Ring OST)
Sofia Coppola Essays: LIT 5th Anniversary Essay - The Auteurs #1: Sofia Coppola
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