The Godfather alone set him up as a legend. Then came Apocalypse Now, The Outsiders -- the list goes on.
With what he has accomplished, he could have easily sold out his indie convictions and churned out studio fare for the rest of his life. But he isn't doing that. And he has struggled with similar issues as the rest of us. He was in debt for many years until The Godfather III helped him out. And now he finances his own films from his successful ventures in winemaking and gourmet foods. That is very indie.
To be an indie filmmaker is to be an entrepreneur. And that is Coppola. From his other businesses, he is financing his films. To be indie, you have to love being a maverick and setting out to build a business out of filmmaking that allows you to express who you really are as a storyteller.
I think it's important for indie filmmakers to think of themselves as entrepreneurs. Your career is more than just making movies. It's building successful businesses. Each film is a business and as Coppola has shown, you can build other businesses that help you to feed your filmmaking businesses.
Coppola reveals why he has chosen to be indie:
"I want to be an amateur filmmaker -- “amateur” meaning what the word means: that you make it because you love it. I don’t want to get paid. I have plenty of money from other things, and I just want to learn. As you get older you realize that to learn something is the real pleasure of life."
What a great attitude! I'm sure you are all thinking, but he has the money to think this way. That's very true. But he created his good fortune through a lot of hard work and we can too. And so often, people change when they have money and I applaud him for sticking to his convictions and making movies on his own terms.