Spotlight: Jacqui Getty
When Jacqui Getty’s daughter Gia Coppola got behind the camera for her feature film directorial debut, Palo Alto, Getty found herself shooting behind-the-scenes footage that became The Making of Palo Alto. Here, the Los Angeles-based creative talks about the entire experience, from housing actors to catching their antics on GoPro cameras to seeing all the cast and crew members work together to create the film on a shoestring budget.
You begin the film by saying (from behind the camera) that you don’t like to be in front of it. What was it like to film these young actors?
I just knew they needed a behind-the-scenes movie so I picked up my camera and shot it from a mom’s point of view. I housed some and cooked for some. I would get the kids up in the morning and make them breakfast. They’d go to the set, I’d film them all day, and before they wrapped I’d go home and cook dinner. I helped with whatever I could and watched them all go through this low budget situation. I don’t think people realize how low the budget was for this.
How long did you shoot?
I shot 75 hours worth of footage, but my editor Brandon Vedder was incredible. And I loved the music choices—so much of it is Jason Schwartzman’s band.
Early on, you ask everyone for their ages, and one person involved in the production was born in the 1970s, everyone else was born in the 1980s. What was it like to film these kids?
I set up GoPro cameras everywhere, even on the grip trucks so you can see hours of footage of what the actors are doing. Then the kids caught on and took them down. I’ve always had a girl, so I didn’t know what boys would do. One day my daughter called me at 6 a.m. to tell me they went skateboarding down Hollywood Boulevard to In-N-Out Burger at 3 a.m. She saw it on Instagram. That’s how they got caught. But it wasn’t Nat Wolff, he wasn’t here that night.
What did you think of the characters of Teddy and Fred in the film?
Jack [Kilmer] who played Teddy is such a little sweetheart and it was amazing watching him. Gia used to babysit him. It was like working with family. Every person participating was part of the family. And Nat [who played the troubled Fred] is a little sweet angel. So kind and with such perfect manners. I was blown away watching him every day. And sweet Emma [Roberts] came in and supported Gia.
Emma Roberts came on at the last minute- how did that affect your documentary?
There was so much drama. That was intense. They also lost three other characters, so things were shifting. Gia had to pull other actors in including the skater Andrew Lutheran. With a low budget film, actors get bigger films and leave. Gia knew she wanted Emma but thought Emma wouldn’t do it because it was a low budget movie. The character is vulnerable, she’s being attacked by an older man, she has problems in her own home. But there’s a sweetness about Emma. Watching Gia going through the pain of making a decision was hard. She had to trust her gut that she made the right decision.
Though you don’t love being on camera, you played Emma’s mother in the film!
She made me play the mom, something I didn’t want to do. But Gia knew how much I loved Emma. Everyone on that movie had 10 jobs. I watched my daughter have 4 hours of sleep a night. She was shooting all day, then location scouting and rewriting at night.
Your daughter Gia Coppola is the granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola and his wife, the artist Eleanor Coppola, who interviewed James Franco for your film.
James produced Palo Alto, not Gia’s grandfather. Gia decided to do it on her own. Francis and Ellie came to the set a couple of times. It was really funny to watch Francis get on the set and not direct. He was so good. I saw him watching her and moving his hands as he was sitting down. It was so sweet. You saw him ask to pull the monitor closer. Ellie is so supportive, she is also this incredible artist who has done great behind-the-scenes films. She’s done them for her kids and for Francis. Her Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse film is my favorite documentary ever.
What’s one thing that you didn’t capture in the documentary?
The number of women who worked on the film! The director of photography was a woman, the sound girl, makeup, costumes, all women. The director is a woman. But only twenty percent of the industry is women, which is kind of insane. I wish I had included a bit on the women working on this film, the key women. You never see that on a movie. Usually there’s one.
Pictured: Jacqui Getty
Photo by Owen Kolasinski for BFAnyc.com
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