Gia Coppola

Director Gia Coppola premiered her movie “Palo Alto” at the Venice Film Festival. (Tiziana Fabi/Getty Images)

VENICE, Italy (CBS/AP) — First-time director Gia Coppola says she is trying to find her own voice as a filmmaker, so she didn’t seek much help from either grandfather Francis Ford Coppola or aunt Sofia Coppola.

“It was important for me to find my own voice and try to do it on my own,” she said in an interview Sunday before the debut of her film “Palo Alto” out of the main competition at the Venice Film Festival — where Sofia walked away with the Golden Lion in 2010 for “Somewhere.”

“Palo Alto,” based on a book by James Franco and starring the actor, explores the vulnerability of teenagers through the lives of four high school students in Palo Alto, California.

Franco plays a soccer coach who makes advances on a student, April, played by Emma Roberts. Val Kilmer appears in a cameo as April’s goofy stepfather, which Coppola, 26, helps explain “why she would get entangled with her soccer coach and I think if there was something missing with her life at home.”

Gia Coppola &  James Franco (credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Gia Coppola & James Franco (credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Franco waltzed down the red carpet in shaded sunglasses and signed autographs for throngs of screaming female fans. But he took on a more serious note in an interview, saying he was similar to one of the characters, Teddy, a talented artist who gets mixed up with drugs and winds up in trouble.

“I guess I was a little like that, I was into art, I got into a bit of trouble, and yeah, that’s me,” Franco said.

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