Bling Ring: Interview with Sofia Coppola

Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, which is the opening film of Certain Regard, is one of the most eagerly awaited picture in this year’s Cannes Film Fest.

Hearing About the Story?

I remember when the story was on the news, but I did not pay much attention to it. However, when I read the article, I thought it seemed like a movie: It was unbelievable, and had young, pretty kids being bad in a glamorous world. I think their quotes really struck me. How they didn’t seem to think they had done anything that wrong, and how they were mostly interested in the fame the robberies had brought them. The whole story seemed to say so much about our times and growing up with Facebook and Twitter.

From Story to Screenplay

I read the transcripts from the Vanity Fair journalist and police reports. I also met some of the kids to try to understand as much as I could, Then, I thought about when I was that age and the things we did, and tried to relate to them. For example, I thought about being in a group of friends and the stupid things you do when you’re that age, and how you want to fit in.

The Parents

I watched the mother of one of the real girls on a reality TV show, and I based her personality on what I watched.

Do You Blame the Kids?

I tried to be empathetic and not judgmental. I didn’t want to say what they were doing was O.K., but I want the audience to make up their own opinion. I never like to tell the audience how to feel. But the film does show how culture can affect kids who don’t have strong values from their families.

TV-Reality Shows

I was thinking about how these kids must be affected by all of that, How reality TV seems so normal now to all of them having grown up with it. The idea of no privacy has become the norm. I am not sure what the public opinion of these kids is: I think they are fascinating to people how far they took things. We al like looking at tabloids sometimes, and these kids are the extreme of that.

Film’s Style

Stylistically, the new film is different from the previous one. The shots are shorter, the narrative more straightforward, because they fit the story. The material always dictates how I make a film. Moreover, after my last film, Somewhere, I was in the mood to do something faster.

But there are long shots, such as this one of the house seen from above, with the two kids going in and out, from rooms to rooms. Shooting from across the hill was an idea of Harris Savides, the director of cinematography. I love that shot and I am happy that Harris pushed for it, as we were trying to find different ways to show the robberies. Harris brought so much to my films, he supported me and helped me make them.

Shooting in Real Celebs Houses

The house of Paris Hilton was the only real house we shot in. For the others, we made our own version of the houses. But I have to admit that it was exciting to shoot in one of the real places in Hollywood Hills, and to see Paris’ private world, and her closets…

Emma Watson

I decided to mix a professional and experienced actress like Emma Watson, who plays Nicki, because I thought she would be great, with newcomers.

Young Performers

I always like working with kids that are just strating, because they’re full of enthusiasm and freshness. I loved that they were really 16 and 17 years old. I tried to make them comfortable to try and experiment with things. I also had them hang out together as a group as much as possible before shooting, to bond and really seem like a group.

Moral Fable

For me, The Bling Ring is more like a cautionary tale.

Sofia Coppola’s Filmography:

The Virgin Suicides (1999), Directors Fortnight; Cannes Film Fest

Lost in Translation (2003), Venice Film Fest Premiere
Winner of the Original Screenplay Oscar and the Cesar Award for Best Foreign Film

Marie Antoinette (2006), Cannes Film Fest (Competition)

Somewhere (2010), Venice Film Fest, Winner of Golden Lion

The Bling Ring (2013), Cannes Film Fest, Opening Film of Certain Regard.