Courteney Cox and Sophie Kipner: It was a ‘no-brainer’ that ‘Sophie and the Baron’ be made

Sophie and the Baron,” documentary short produced by Courteney Cox, follows the unlikely friendship between two artists who crossed paths at a chance meeting. And the road to the film was just as organic. One of the 15 films on the Oscar shortlist, “Sophie and the Baron” follows up-and-coming artist Sophie Kipner as she reinterprets iconic photographs taken by Baron Wolman, “Rolling Stone’s” first chief photographer, using blind contouring, in which she draws without looking at the page. The short is directed by her cousin, Alexandria Jackson, who one day just started filming the pair, who had met when Wolman ordered a vodka tonic from Kipner at a London bar.

“There was no plan of anything like this. How could you even plan any of this that would soon happen?” Kipner tells Gold Derby (watch above). “When we all started hanging out, it all just made a lot of sense. Alex was aware enough to sort of do what she always does and started capturing the moment. And because I feel so comfortable with her because she is family and my cousin, I was able to completely be in the moment. And no one could’ve captured it the way she did. Not only is she so great and aware of those fine details as a director — what her brain is thinking, I could see how she wanted to animate it later, for example, as the people were coming alive on the canvas. She always thinks like that anyway, but it was just very organic and natural how it started to blossom, and I think she saw a friendship between Baron and myself that she found encouraging and exciting for herself, and realizing all of these mentorships through different people — she was mentored by Courteney and by Joanna [Natasegara], the other producer on the film, who gave her her first opportunities in the film industry.”

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Kipner, Jackson and Cox are longtime family friends — Jackson executive-produced Cox’s 2014 film “Just Before I Go” — and once Cox saw Jackson’s initial footage, she jumped onboard to ensure the film get made. “You look at the footage and you go, ‘Wow, this is actually incredible,'” Cox says. “And then when people got to know at the beginning of the film who Baron was and just his work, and then you see Sophie and you see the unique way she does this art … I just think that it was just so interesting in the story the way art brings people together and just two fascinating people. There’s no likely friendship that you can imagine and then they just connected, so I think once we saw how important the story could be and how sweet and how beautiful, it was just like a no-brainer that it needed to be made and continue to be made and people needed to see it.”

“Sophie and the Baron” took three years to complete, and sadly during that time, Wolman died in November 2020 from ALS at 83. He saw cuts of the film and was giving notes until the very end. “He wasn’t able to talk, but he was able to text and watch and he watched it until the very last moment. And it was close. He saw, I think, what was considered pretty much the final [cut],” Kipner shares. “He loved it, and knowing he supported it so much makes us all feel really extra special. We feel like he’s above somewhere, helping pull strings and have this get out into the world in the way that it has.”

Should “Sophie and the Baron” earn an Oscar nomination on Feb. 8, it would be the first Oscar nomination of Cox’s career — and would come seven months after her long overdue maiden Emmy nomination, as an executive producer on “Friends: The Reunion.” “It would just make me really proud of Sophie and Alex. Obviously any time you are recognized for anything, it feels good, but mostly it would be my joy for them,” Cox says of the possibility. “And it’s huge. I mean, God, even the fact that this is on the shortlist is such an accomplishment that anything past that would be beyond.”

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