Filmmaker Christopher Coppola recently directed the Shriners Hospitals for Children® patient ambassador video “A Tale of Two Patients,” and also became a member of Al Malaikah Shriners in Los Angeles. Shriners International had the opportunity to speak with Christopher and learn more about him.
Q: Could you please tell us a little more about yourself and your background?
A: I first started as a composer, following the footsteps of my grandfather Carmine Coppola, who incidentally conducted his own score for the Abel Gance “Napoleon” spectacle which premiered at the Shrine Auditorium back in the 1980s. I then went on to follow in the footsteps of my uncle, Francis Ford Coppola, by becoming a filmmaker as well as a digital pioneer. Most importantly, I have also followed in the footsteps of my father, Dr. August Coppola, a prominent educator who tried inventive, creative forms of teaching through mixed media. Through my non-profit new media festival “Project Accessible Hollywood,” I teach everyday people how to use the latest digital technology and share their stories with the rest of the world. I help to bring out the celebrity, the artist and the wonderful human being inside of all of us. So, I guess you can say that I am the Coppola who combines entertainment with education.
Q: Can you talk about your experience directing the patient ambassador video and the effect it had on you?
A: I really feel good inside when I’ve done something meaningful for others. Watching people come out of their shells through the creative process never ceases to amaze me. The fact that the Shriners allowed me to try the interweaving of both patients and their families was liberating to me as a filmmaker. The audience was able to see both families learn about each other and celebrate the incredible care they received from Shriners Hospitals for Children. The video wouldn’t have been a successful piece if it wasn’t for the Shriners’ support and belief in what I was trying to do. I am satisfied by what we were able to accomplish artistically, but more importantly, I am proud we were able to spread awareness of the hope and care Shriners Hospitals for Children provides to families.
Q: What interested you most about becoming a Shriner?
A: The goodwill, the dedication to helping those in need, the history, and the fun. Plus, I can’t wait to ride on my 1200cc motorcycle in the parades.
Q: In your opinion, how do you think the fraternity can create more awareness?
A: We need to continue to become more modern with our brand to attract younger men. It’s important to find the balance of staying current, while not neglecting our rich history. I like the idea of doing PSAs with actual Shriners from all walks of life and telling us what it means to be a Shriner, being part of a special brotherhood, and helping children. We need to build an enticing mystique that gets younger men to find out about our wonderful fraternity.