James Franco is set to star in “In Praise of Shadows,” an indie drama written and directed by Jay Anania. Pic will start production June 15 in New York City.

Anania is head of the directing program at the graduate film school at NYU, where Franco just completed his first year, while simultaneously completing his master’s degree in English at Columbia U.

The drama tells the story of William Vincent (Franco), and recounts his eccentric and curious journey that brought him back to New York City after four years in exile to rescue the woman he loves from a crime syndicate.

Pic will be produced through Franco’s Rabbit Bandini Prods. banner by Vince Jolivette, Miles Levy and Piers Richardson.

The film has a budget of less than $10 million, and is being produced in association with the Final Cut Collective, Black Acre Entertainment and Limerick Films, all of which are financing.

Franco liked the script and was able to work it into his schedule before heading off to Ireland to star opposite his “Pineapple Express” cohort Danny McBride and Natalie Portman in “Your Highness,” the David Gordon Green-directed Universal comedy. Then it’s back to fall classes for Franco.

Anania, who most recently wrote and directed the 2006 pic “Day on Fire,” gave high marks to Franco.

“I was immediately struck by his inventiveness and talent,” he said.