James Franco Tries Out Crowdfunding for 3 Feature Films Based on the Book He Wrote

James Franco Tries Out Crowdfunding for 3 Feature Films Based on the Book He Wrote

Fresh off his William Faulkner adaptation “As I Lay Dying,” which just had its premiere at Cannes (go HERE for our review), James Franco has just launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for $500,000 to make a trilogy of feature films based on short stories in his first book (Yes! He wrote a book; there’s lots of reminders on the page!).

After Kickstarter celeb successes from “Veronica Mars” and Zach Braff, Shemar Moore and Melissa Joan Hart both launched campaigns that had to be cancelled for lack of support (It should be noted that unlike “Mars” creator Rob Thomas and Braff, Hart and Moore weren’t really the creators of their projects.)  Moore shifted his campaign to Indiegogo which allows for “flexible funding,” a funding arrangement that doesn’t require you meet your fundraising goal but allows Indiegogo to take a larger cutIt’s also a feature that is unavailable on Kickstarter, so we could be seeing more of these celebs who could probably find the money elsewhere on the platform that allows for a less embarrassing failure.

READ MORE: With $2 Million Kickstarter Campaign, Zach Braff Modifies Both Old and New Distribution Models

Franco’s book, “Palo Alto” is about the California town of the same name that he grew up in.

He’ll be working with NYU classmates Nina Ljeti, Vladimir Bourdeau, Bruce Thierry Cheung, and Gabrielle Demeestere to adapt and direct three different feature films: “Memoria,” “Killing Animals,” and “Yosemite.”

Profits from the films will all be donated to a charity, The Art of Elysium, that sends working artists into hospitals.

The synopses for the three films, excerpted from the Indiegogo page:

Memoria tells the story of Ivan
Cohen, an anti-social, self-conscious boy living in the suburbs of Palo
Alto, California. Unlike most kids in Palo Alto, Ivan comes from a
working class family. Unable to get along with his mother and his
step-father at home, Ivan retreats to a world of military combat in the
confines of his bedroom, dreaming of his Russian military father who
left him before he was born. Ivan’s friends are part of a very small
subculture of punks and skateboarders in Palo Alto.

Killing Animalsa mischievous,
intimate look at teenagers in the 1990s. The world is Palo Alto, a safe
and comfortable suburb in California. We follow a group of restless kids
that yearn to escape to the night streets to feel powerful, to the
outskirts of the city to feel adventurous. The film jumps between their
innocent wide-eyed days as 12 year olds and their more alienated and
disillusioned times as 16 year olds.

“Yosemite”:  It’s the fall of 1985. The intertwining tales
of three 4th grade friends, Chris, Joe and Shrimp, unfold in the
suburban paradise of Palo Alto, as the threat of a killer mountain lion
looms over the community.  Chris encounters a dead body up close on a
trip to Yosemite with his Dad.

For the full synopses and more information (like what stories inspired each film), check out the project’s Indiegogo page.

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Paula Deen should also try to get Kickstarter to fund her next apology video. Just saying.


Excellent post. Please keep up the great work.

Aaron Hillis

The Faulkner adaptation was hardly his directorial debut, sir! Franco directed at least four narrative features, two or three docs, several shorts, and co-directed the TriBeCa Film Fest barely-feature-length oddity FRANCOPHRENIA.


Setting aside my usual criticisms of celebrity crowdfunding campaigns, if all proceeds are actually going to charity, there should be other ways of raising the money to make this project happen, ways that wouldn't be available to a for-profit enterprise. It would require more work and a bit more creativity, but taking that approach would be far less problematic (morally, ethically) than asking money from people who don't live as well.


This is great. Crowdfunding is perfect for young, unknown artists like this Mr. Franco, who has no connections whatsoever to the industry. We should all help out and pay for this project that is no way narcissistic, self-indulgent and obviously steers away from those awful stereotypes of indie movies about white people with daddy issues. I'm sure about is going to be a mordant critic about life in the suburbs… Edgy. We have never seen that! I'm giving all my money to this project; I'm sure Mr. Franco has no money – it's not like has starred in some pretty big movies or something.

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