Sofia Coppola was looking for a smaller project after making the big-budget period film “Marie Antoinette” in 2006.
That film is “Somewhere,” an examination of the mundane life of movie star, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), who’s trying to connect with his young daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning). It was recently released on DVD.
I was living in Paris after “Marie Antoinette” and feeling far from America and pop culture. I was a little homesick and thinking about LA. After “Marie Antoinette” was so girly, I was curious to try and write from a male’s point of view.
Why this story?
I try to be — when I’m writing — open to just what I’m interested in and not try to figure it out. I think with our pop culture so obsessed with celebrity, I was kind of curious to look at the other side of that. Also, I just had my first daughter and I was thinking about how much that changes your perspective and priorities.
Is any of it based on your own childhood?
He’s (her dad, director Francis Ford Coppola) not like the dad in the movie.
I remember it was always exciting to go on trips with my dad where I got to see worlds that kids aren’t really around.
Do you know people like Johnny Marco?
I based him on people I’ve met. There are about a dozen people who I took pieces from. A few people I wasn’t thinking of said, “Oh, you based him on me.”
The script was only 48 pages. Why such a short script?
I want to have enough information that the crew and the cast understand it. But I don’t get into a lot of detail. I always try to be open because I think things happen, and you can’t plan everything out. I don’t storyboard everything. I try to approach it like a photo shoot where you get all of the elements together and then see what works best when you are really there.
Your film is about a man bored with his life. How do you get that across without being dull?
It was hard in the editing room to figure out how much we could push it without it being totally boring and keep the audience involved. I wanted it to feel like we’re in his point of view and to be in his state of mind.
Is that why it almost has a documentary feel?
I wanted to try to do it in a very naturalistic style, to avoid movie cliches and not have some big disaster or big event make this guy want to change. In real life small things make you look at yourself. So I tried to shoot it in a simple way.
Do you think your name helps you get movies financed?
Now I feel like it’s my work that gets the financiers. When I first started, because my family was in the film business, I knew people and had access to people that gave me an entree in. Knowing people in the film business is helpful but then you have to prove yourself, and I think people doubt you more because of your name.