Francis Ford Coppola’s self-funded passion project, epic film “Megalopolis,” has been granted an interim agreement from SAG-AFTRA amid the ongoing strike. While the film, starring Adam Driver, Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, Dustin Hoffman, and Forest Whitaker, wrapped production in March 2023, it’s unclear what the interim agreement would be for.
Coppola has yet to tease a release date for the film, with the SAG exemption perhaps for the actors to promote the film. Similarly, if Coppola opted for reshoots, the SAG interim agreement could be for allowing actors to return to set.
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The SAG-AFTRA interim agreements do not publicly differentiate between actors promoting a project or filming. Casting is only highlighted in separate agreements. A rep for Coppola declined to comment further beyond confirming the film had signed the interim agreement.
“The Godfather” Oscar winner Coppola wrote and directed “Megalopolis,” which shot in Atlanta and New York. The official “Megalopolis” logline reads: “The fate of Rome haunts a modern world unable to solve its own social problems in this epic story of political ambition, genius, and dangerous love.” The auteur financed the reported $120 million-plus film himself.
Coppola described “Megalopolis” as a “love story” and admitted that the film expanded in scope during production.
“From my point of view, I was on schedule, which, on a big, difficult movie, is hard to do,” Coppola told Deadline in May 2023. “I love my actors, and there is not one of them I would change. The movie has a style that went beyond my expectations. That’s sincerely how I feel. The most important thing is the life the film might have when eventually it cuts together and blossoms.”
Rumors of a “chaotic” set swirled around the ensemble cast, with actor Driver previously telling IndieWire that while there were on-set departures from members of the creative team, production still went smoothly.
A report in January 2023 confirmed that visual effects production supervisor Mark Russell, production designer Beth Mickle, and supervising art director David Scott had left “Megalopolis,” with the VFX team parting ways in December 2022. A source told IndieWire that creative differences between Coppola and select crew members led to their respective departures.
The creative team switch-up prompted a statement from the Art Directors Guild that it would be looking into the situation to “ensure proper staffing and scheduling.” New production designer Bradley Rubin of “The Mandalorian” and “A Star Is Born” fame was later brought on board.
Driver assured that the on-set rumors were exaggerated.
“All good here! Not sure what set you’re talking about! I don’t recognize that one! I’ve been on sets that were chaotic and this one is far from it,” Driver said in a January 2023 statement. “The environment that’s being created by Francis, is one of focus and inspiration. As of now, we’re on schedule, making our days, and honestly, it’s been one of the best shooting experiences I’ve had. Our crew is fast and inventive, our costume department is on point, the actors are incredible and willing, and Francis is one of the most insightful and caring people to work with. I’m very proud to be making this movie with him, and them, and though I haven’t interviewed everyone, I can confidently say that that’s the general attitude on set.”
“It’s one of the best shooting experiences I’ve had,” the “House of Gucci” alum said. “And the things that he’s made, there’s no frame of reference for it. It’s so unique and inventive and hopefully accessible by everyone. That it’s not so elusive that it’s for a certain audience, it’s for everyone. And he is everything that you hope he will be.”
“I’m very proud to be here to be a visual representation of a movie that’s not part of the AMPTP and to promote the SAG leadership directive which is an effective tactic which is the interim agreement,” Driver said of “Ferrari,” with his statements now being relevant to “Megalopolis” as well. “Why is it that a smaller distribution company like Neon and STX International can meet the dream demands of what SAG is asking for, the dream version of SAG’s wishlist, but a big company like Netflix and Amazon can’t?”
Driver summed up, “Every time people from SAG go and support a movie that has met the terms of the interim agreement, it just makes it more obvious that these people are willing to support the people that they collaborate with — and the others are not. No big studio wrote us a check. And that’s why we’re here, standing in solidarity.”
Additional reporting by Brian Welk.
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