Sofia Coppola Laments Having to Fight for ‘Tiny Fraction’ of What Male Directors Get

She says “all these men” are getting “hundreds of millions of dollars” to make movies

Sofia Coppola
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Sofia Coppola’s most recent film “Priscilla” is based on Priscilla Presley’s memoir “Elvis and Me.” The director discussed making the movie, including the double standards she and other female directors are often burdened with, in a lengthy interview with the BBC that was published on Friday.

She explained in part, “I just see all these men getting hundreds of millions of dollars and then I’m fighting for a tiny fraction of that.”

“I think it’s just left over from the way the culture of that business is,” Coppola continued. “It’s frustrating but I’m always fighting to get it and I’m just happy to get to make my movies independently and find people that believe in them.”

Coppola added that not having to the same funds that many male directors receive has its silver lining — creative independence. As she put it, “There’s a challenge and a freedom in making things small because if you have a big budget, you have a lot of input from studio executives, and I would never be able to make a movie like that.”

She continued, “So I have that freedom. And then you have to be really crafty and it was really hard but I had the best team… we were able to re-use sets and I don’t know how we made so many costumes! It was all hands on deck and just having really creative department heads.”

Coppola also touched on Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis,” which was released in June 2022. She stressed that “Priscilla” wasn’t made in reaction to the Austin Butler-helmed film, though everyone thought it was. She explained, “When I started working on this, they were talking about how Baz was making his: ‘Are you sure you want to do this as there’s already an Elvis movie?’”

“And I was like: ‘Even better, that’s so interesting that the culture is going to be focused on him and then a year later to see the same kind of story, but from her point of view… to have this counter balance,’” Coppola explained.

Based on the 1985 memoir “Elvis and Me,” the film portrays Priscilla Presley’s life with Elvis Presley from her vantage. Priscilla met her future husband when she was only 14 and he was 24; she moved in to his home in Memphis before she graduated high school.

While speaking at the Venice Film Festival in September, Priscilla explained, “It was very difficult for my parents to understand that Elvis would be so interested in me and why. I really do think it was because I was more of a listener.”

“Elvis would pour his heart out to me in every way in Germany: his fears, his hopes, the loss of his mother, which he never ever got over,” she continued. “And I was the person who really sat there to listen and to comfort him. That was really our connection.”

Priscilla also touched on the more intimate details of her life with Elvis before they married. “Even though I was 14, I was actually a little bit older in life – not in numbers. That was the attraction. People think: ‘Oh, it was sex.’ No, it wasn’t. I never had sex with him,” she said.

“He was very kind, very soft, very loving, but he also respected the fact I was only 14 years old. We were more in line in thought, and that was our relationship,” Priscilla concluded.


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