Photography by Jeff Hunt
Christopher Coppola wants to tell you about his dad.
In this episode, the filmmaker from the very famous filmmaking family shares his life story with us. Born and raised in Long Beach, he and his brother, Nicolas, spent a lot of time in San Francisco with their uncle, Francis.
Christopher starts things off with his dad, August Coppola. According to him, August carried an old family tradition of creativity and "stick-to-it-iveness" into the modern era. His long career in education brought him to SF State, where he was the dean of Creative Arts for many years.
He takes us on a sidetrack into some of the possible reasons that there's so much creativity and passion running throughout his relatives as well as his ancestors who date back to southern Italy.
Then we head into another sidetrack, this time about Christopher growing up in Long Beach with an ill mother and a younger brother who later became a household name. The story involves the two youngsters misidentifying their own Chinese zodiac signs.
The next sidetrack involves stories of Christopher riding with motorcycle gangs. This leads to one of his movie ideas—Biker McBeth.
We talk about the origins of Coppolas in Northern California. It all started with "Uncle" Francis. Following the success of The Godfather, he moved to San Francisco. His brother (Christopher's dad), August, soon followed suit. Because their mother was ill, when Christopher and his brother, Nicolas, were around 8 or 9, they were often sent up to The City to spend time with their aunt and uncle.
Christopher speaks fondly of his Aunt Eleanor. They called her "mother aunt." During their stays in San Francisco, she would give the kids allowances and send them on their way around town. People would ask if they were "those" Coppolas, which of course they weren't. It bothered both brothers when they were young, but Christopher let it go.
We end this episode with Christopher's tales of his and his brother's mischievous, creative lives in Long Beach and how San Francisco served as a sanctuary for them. Check back Thursday for Part 2 and the conclusion of Christopher Coppola's life story.
We recorded this podcast at the San Francisco Art Institute in April 2022.