Already the out-and-out definition of a entertainment multi-hyphenate, poetry is something that also evidently flows in James Franco's blood, and is a world he loves to delve into for his film projects. Franco has made several shorts based on poems, including works by Anthony Hecht ("The Feast Of Stephen"), Spencer Reece ("The Clerk's Tale") and Frank Bidart ("Herbert White") before playing Hart Crane in "The Broken Tower" and Allen Ginsberg in "Howl." And it doesn't end there either.
Franco has now shepherded a project for NYU graduate students that'll result in two poetry-centric anthology features: "Tar" based on C.K. William's book of poems of the same name, and "Black Dog, Red Dog," based on a book of poems by Stephen Dobyns. Students — who had to win a competition for the opportunity — separately helmed shorts based on individual poems with their entries combined into a cohesive feature-length narrative.
The presence of Franco has also attracted some big name actors to the projects, with Jessica Chastain and Mila Kunis featuring in the Williams feature, Olivia Wilde, Chloe Sevigny and Whoopi Goldberg are all part of the Dobyns pic, and Franco is involved in both in an acting and producing capacity. Sounds like a fascinating project, and this initiative from Franco is likely to make film school students all over the globe jealous (imagine working with Chastain and co. as a student!?).
"Tar," which is backed by Franco's production company Rabbit Bandini and exec producer Victorino Noval, is reportedly nearing completion and eyeing a premiere at TIFF, while 'Black Dog' is still being edited. And not only that, any financial gains from the features will be put into future endeavors of a similar nature. Nice. [Variety]