As a filmmaker and an individual, Francis Ford Coppola has led a life with countless unexpected twists and turns, and Friday night will mark yet another.
An art installation of the pivotal scene from “Twixt,” his newest film starring Val Kilmer, will be unveiled in an exhibition at San Francisco’s FIFTY24SF gallery. Holding the opening night on Friday the 13th is fitting, considering Twixt is a horror flick. For an added jolt, trailers of the film will be displayed in the gallery and “poisoned lemonade,” (the drink of choice in the film) will be served to guests. What may be even more startling — at least to the entertainment industry — is the fact that clips of the movie will be shown even though Coppola has yet to line up distribution.
For his last three films, the famed director of “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now” has opted to write, produce, distribute and finance them on his own with pretty much a 15-person crew. Twixt draws from Coppola’s fondness for American Goth, Edgar Allan Poe and his tribulations as a horror writer. Kilmer plays B-list scribe “Hall Baltimore,” toiling away on a new mystery based on a murder in a remote northern California town. The filmmaker used local actors and even built sets on “Rutherford,” his family estate in the Napa Valley.
For the art show, the three-man art department, Jimmy DiMarcellis, David Hopp, and John Paul Goorjian, reconstructed the set of Twixt’s most climactic scene, which revolves around a clock tower, and appears in the film in an impromptu 3-D experience. (Resourceful as the trio is, they set up an electric dough mixer to power the more manageable-sized gallery version.) Birdhouses from Nice, Calif.-based artist John Hathaway, whose front yard/gallery/shop “The Woodpecker” was a key set in the film will also be displayed. Other pieces from the film’s set that were salvaged from different northern California locales and from Coppola’s archives, as well as behind-the-scenes photography by executive producer Anahid Nazarian and set photographer Kalman Mueller, will be showcased.
With the help of an eccentric sheriff, Kilmer recasts the facts and winds up knee-deep in the most taxing tale he has ever written. Twixt’s takeaway is meant to explore the process of storytelling as it applies to personal experience, artistic influences and classic American genres that have become staples of modern cinema. In keeping with the original spirit of American horror, some scenes were created with intentional kitsch, while some dream sequences were shot with highly detailed, ornate sets and original postproduction work. Scant as the crew was, each was committed through and through, according to art director DiMarcellis, who noted how septuagenarian costume designer Marges Bowers would burn the midnight oil, hand-sewing napkins.
Many in the crew are expected at tonight’s shindig, which has been arranged through Upper Playground and Coppola’s production company American Zoetrope. Adding another dimension to the story, Coppola penned an essay about his love of horror films in Zoetrope, the literary journal he started.