A critical look at the production problems caused by Francis Ford Coppola's decision to be both director and producer on Apocalypse Now in 1979

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Bolger, Richard
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BA (Hons) in Film Studies
Dublin Business School
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My dissertation concerns the problems caused to production by Francis Ford Coppola’s decision to be both director and producer on Apocalypse Now. A decision that would drive him to the point of near insanity. A decision that placed unnecessary stress upon himself. A decision that forced him to work the role of ordinarily two separate people. A decision that had enormous bearing on the overall delivery of the film and the overall events leading up to and including the whole films production completion and process. The main reason I had for writing this dissertation was that when I first discovered that he worked on the film in both the capacity of director and also producer, two wholly separate fields in terms of production, I wanted to discovered how he went about doing it and whether or not he was successful in both capacities. I knew of course, starting my dissertation that it is hard to deny the fact that the film was a success, a much acclaimed piece of work by an undoubtedly talented director. My main concern was in discovering how he personally got on with dealing with these roles. The role of a producer and the role of a director are the two primary roles in film production. They deal with different specific elements of a production. In my dissertation I am going to highlight the problems, how he managed to deal or in some cases not deal with the problems that evitable occur during the production of any film. Problems that occurred on Apocalypse Now in many ways have been highlighted and discussed before but what I want to explore and critically analyse is how his taking on of both of the roles as director and producer lead to the unravelling of many of these problems. I personally believe that a director cannot also be a producer on the film he is directing simply because he will complicate budgets, scheduling, casting and the delivery of the project. Apocalypse Now, 1979 was a success however in my dissertation I will address how it almost was not due to Coppola’s decisions. I will also try to address the point of how it may have been a smoother process had he decided to only take on the position of director and work with a producer who he could trust to give him everything he needed. So much has been said about Apocalypse Now, but hopefully my research will show that so much more needs to be said about a production that went on for over two years. Author keywords: Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola, Vietnam war