Since she started directing films in the late 90s, Sofia Coppola has always ended up accumulating mounds of stuff in boxes: a mix of references, notes, scripts, and photos from set shot on her Contax T3.
“As the boxes started to pile up over the years, and enough time had passed, I finally opened them up and started to look through them. I decided to make a book to have them all in one place,” Coppola writes in her new book, Archive.
The first major book by the director spans the entirety of her influential career in film, from her cult debut feature The Virgin Suicides (1999), to Lost in Translation (2003), Marie Antoinette (2006), The Beguiled (2017), and more.
Described by Coppola as a “scrapbook”, the publication brings together her personal collection of photographs and ephemera encapsulating her extensive body of work, including early development work, reference collages, influences, annotated scripts, and behind-the-scenes documentation.
There’s also a section dedicated to unseen images and behind-the-scenes materials from her upcoming feature, Priscilla. The movie, which explores Priscilla Presley’s early years at Graceland, premieres at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.
For designers Joseph Logan and Anamaria Morris, helping bring the book to life was somewhat of a dream commission. “The opportunity to work with such a treasure trove of material was very exciting. Because Sofia is a very thoughtful and visual person, we knew her archive would be rich with ephemera, inspiration, and lots of iconic images,” says Morris.
While there wasn’t a formal brief, it was clear that the director didn’t want anything overproduced. “Like her films, we all wanted the imagery to do the work, without too much language,” says Logan. “It was also important to be true to the book’s title and present the ‘stuff’ as we found it: in boxes, with notes … nothing too cleaned up.”
The director’s favourite colour – pink – features throughout the book in three different shades, none of which match. “The fluorescent pink cover was a little nod to the tape she uses on set,” says Morris. The use of colour is directly contrasted by the book’s “unfussy” approach to typography, Logan adds. “I’ve always appreciated how Sofia’s voice is so lacking in ostentation, and so Futura seemed similarly to-the-point.”
“The book hopefully has the best qualities of a coffee table book: it is primarily visual and it is an attractive object,” he continues. “But we wanted to counter those things with some un-coffee-table book qualities: soft cover, no image on the jacket, uncoated paper, etc. My hope is that all these things make it feel less commercial.”
Personally edited and annotated throughout by Coppola, Archive offers an intimate encounter with her creative process and distinct visual aesthetic. In the book’s extended interview with film journalist Lynn Hirschberg, the director says: “Across all my films, there is a common quality: there is always a world and there is always a girl trying to navigate it. That’s the story that will always intrigue me.”