San Francisco Chronicle

A wild ride of internet notoriety

- Jessica Zack is a freelance writer who regularly contribute­s stories about film, books and the arts for The Chronicle.

world where everything is so amplified and in your face? It’s complicate­d.

As a photograph­er, I do really like Instagram as a platform because I like to communicat­e with images. But I’ve experience­d, like everyone, that no one likes an image if it’s different — say an artful (photo) of a puddle — but people love if you’re in a bikini. And that is so not me.

Q: How do you see Andrew Garfield’s character, Link? He’s so charismati­c at first, but things get a lot darker after he gains some notoriety.

A: It just felt like every girl’s bad boy story. We all go through those relationsh­ips where you’re drawn to the exciting, damaged person and realize that’s not what love should be. It’s sort of symbolic of the internet in a way.

Q: Was Andrew game for getting as wild as the script required? I’m thinking of the scene where he runs naked down an L.A. street.

A: I think it was liberating for him to do those things. I remember originally in the scene he was going to wear nude underwear, and we’d make it kind of blurred, in a space that just seems like it’s public. And then I straight up asked him, “What if we did it on Hollywood Boulevard?” And he was like, “I’m down. And I think it should be a prosthetic penis.”

So we did it superguerr­illa style. We didn’t block off any of the streets. He just ran out and did it, and those are (bystanders’) genuine reactions.

Q: It’s the kind of stunt you see on YouTube.

A: Yeah. I mean, those YouTuber guys are all essentiall­y reiteratin­g “Jackass,” so I wanted to have those moments that made it feel


Q: Influencer­s like Jake Paul, who’s actually in “Mainstream,” have gotten a lot of negative attention since you finished filming. Is the movie saying that social media can turn us all into monsters on some level?

A: I do think it can breed a very unlikable version of yourself, a dangerous, monstrous version of yourself. I felt a bit inspired by Frankenste­in.

Q: Both of your films look at transition­ing to adulthood. Are you glad you grew up before social media took off ?

A: Yeah. I’m 34, and I can’t imagine the layers added to your psyche if you’re having to deal with all this as a young person. The memories I have would be so different if I’d been part of a generation that has to document everything. Just being in a parking lot with friends, could that even be exciting to you if you weren’t filming it?

Q: Growing up, you spent a lot of time with your grandparen­ts (Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola) in Napa Valley. Have you been with them during the pandemic?

A: Yeah, they are a big part of my life. I love it (in Napa), and I was there for a good majority of COVID, which was really nice. There’s always a lot of cooking and a lot of watching movies.

Q: How engaged are they with your work? Do you show them early cuts, seek their creative input?

A: It’s always nerveracki­ng (showing them a new movie), but I’m really grateful that I have such an amazing, talented sounding board to get advice from. They’re bohemian and creative, and it’s mostly about just making sure that you’re doing things for authentic reasons.

 ?? Beth Dubber / IFC Films ?? Maya Hawke and Andrew Garfield star in “Mainstream,” which “just felt like every girl’s bad boy story,” says director Gia Coppola.
Beth Dubber / IFC Films Maya Hawke and Andrew Garfield star in “Mainstream,” which “just felt like every girl’s bad boy story,” says director Gia Coppola.

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