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Storied: San Francisco

Apr 28, 2022

In this episode, Christopher picks up where he left off in Part 1. He tried college up north for a couple years, but that ended when he lost his scholarship. His dad knew a guy at the San Francisco Art Institute and encouraged Christopher to come see the school. The idea was that he would finish his education learning how to make movies.

On that visit, Christopher met George Kuchar, who would later become Christopher's mentor. He went on to get a BFA from SFAI. We chat about the various neighborhoods he lived in back in those days and the stories that came with them. Then Christopher tells us all about some of the fights he was in here in The City when he was a kid, one on a moving 22-Fillmore.

Christopher ended up graduating from SFAI, and the only person he had at the ceremony was his brother Nicolas (Cage). Afterward, the two went out on the town to celebrate.

We back up a bit to hear the story of how Christopher's parents ended up in Southern California. His mom's family came from Illinois. And his dad's ancestors came from southern Italy to the U.S. August came to UCLA, where he met Christopher's mom. Her family had an in-law house, and soon, August's brother Francis lived in it.

After graduating, Christopher made some films that he describes as "maybe pretentious," but Nicolas's agent liked them. They wanted him to come back to SoCal, but he wasn't interested. He got involved with producer Dino De Laurentis, and shares some of those stories with us. Christopher was able to navigate pressures from outside and get some of his more arty cinematic techniques into his early movies.

​Next Christopher contrasts his lives in San Francisco and Los Angeles/Long Beach. Today, he lives mostly in the Bay Area and teaches at SFAI, which he talks about. Then he shares the story of how he and his sons made Sammy & Quinn, his most recent short.

We end this episode with Christopher's thoughts on what it means to still be in San Francisco.

We recorded this episode at the San Francisco Art Institute in April 2022.

Photography by Jeff Hunt