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Gia Coppola knows a thing or two about film, having grown up watching her grandfather Francis Ford, her aunt Sofia and her uncle Roman on the job.
Since graduating from Bard College with a degree in photography in 2009, she has carved a niche in her hometown of Los Angeles directing short fashion films for Rodarte, Zac Posen and Diane von Furstenberg, and labels Opening Ceremony and Wren.
Her work won her a spot as one of the featured speakers at the inaugural Curators Conference, a day-long event taking place on Sept. 5 at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center in New York on the eve of New York Fashion Week.
Presented by online channel Portable at http://curatorsconference.com, the conference will feature creators and curators of culture across fashion, film, design, music and technology. Coppola’s fellow presenters include Susie Bubble of Style Bubble, Refinery29 cofounder Philippe von Borries, Capsule director Chris Corrado, music-video director Warren Fu, Foodspotting founder Soraya Darabi, Cool Hunting founder Evan Orensten, Carrie Scott of SHOWstudio and Rodrigo Calvo of Mr & Mrs Smith.
“I am in good company,” says Coppola, who plans to talk about fashion videos and “how they have developed as a new little art form.”
By nature soft-spoken and shy (“I will probably turn red and start stuttering,” she says of her presentation), Coppola says she fell into directing while collaborating with friends like actress Nathalie Love and director Tracy Antonopoulos. She says she gravitated toward film over photography because of the writing and storytelling aspect.
“I like photography more as my own hobby for me,” she says, noting that she always has her Contax TW camera or her iPhone handy.
As for the fast-growing fashion-film genre, Coppola notes, “It’s cool because it’s a new way to show clothes and see how they move, plus you have a little story, so it adds personality. And it’s helpful when companies are open to letting you do what you want.”
Her short for von Furstenberg featured Antonopoulos as a young screenwriter with writer’s block — and a fabulous wardrobe. “That was tricky because Tracy is so tall we couldn’t shoot her in all the bottoms, so we did a montage of all the printed jeans during the credits,” Coppola says.
Other recent projects include a short filmed in Las Vegas for Elle China, starring Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu and her cousin, musician Robert Schwartzman. She often calls on Schwartzman, who used to be in the band Rooney, to compose scores for her films. “ ’Cause he’s family, I get a little favor,” she admits.
Coppola is at work on a feature-length script and says she’s inspired by her aunt’s commercials and her uncle’s shorts, as well as those of Martin Scorsese and Harmony Korine.
“I always have little pictures in mind that I think are cool that I’d like to create,” she says of her creative process. “But you start with half of something, and with everyone’s collaborations, it turns into a fully formed piece.”