×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

James Franco shepherds two poetry-themed pix

NYU students helmed segments with multihyphenate

Who else but James Franco would cobble together his ongoing higher education, books of poetry, NYU graduate students, independent financing and fellow A-list actors to create not one, but two new feature films?

That’s just what the multihyphenate has done with “Tar” and “Black Dog, Red Dog,” two standalone narrative pics based on separate collections of poetry that were adapted by students in Franco’s filmmaking class. Each student directed a short based on an individual poem; their entries were later woven into a cohesive, feature-length narrative.

“Tar,” based on the 1983 book of poems by Pulitzer Prize winner C.K. Williams, has been fully financed by Victorino Noval and Franco’s Rabbit Bandini Productions. Ten NYU student directors helmed segments along with Franco, who also stars as Williams. Mila Kunis and Jessica Chastain also took roles.

“I went out to people that I knew, or who I thought would be open to this kind of thing,” Franco told Variety. “They all told me that they were so happy they did it … the students are still at a place where they’re pure, and they’re not jaded.”

Franco used a similar formula for “Black Dog, Red Dog,” a book of poems by Stephen Dobyns that was published in 1984. Still in post-production, “Black Dog” stars Franco, Olivia Wilde, Chloe Sevigny and Whoopi Goldberg.

Franco, who selected the 10 directors via a competition at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and Noval plan to take “Tar” to festivals in search of distribution, and will use any proceeds to fund future student endeavors. Producers include Miles Levy, Vince Jolivette and Edward Bass; Noval serves as an exec producer.

Jolivett said “Tar” has wrapped and could preem as soon as the Toronto Film Fest, while “Black Dog” was still being edited.

“After I graduated from NYU I proposed teaching a class,” Franco told Variety. “I wanted it to do a few things I hadn’t seen before — to work at a professional level, meaning we would get financing, we would find great actors, and even though it didn’t have a very big budget, we would make it so the production levels were really good.”

“When you start with poetry I think you start thinking about the shape of a film in a different way, and it opens up new approaches,” Franco said. “Our final film has a unique feel. It does tell a story and it does give you a look at a poet’s life.”

More Film

  • Young Ahmed

    Cannes Film Review: 'Young Ahmed'

    There’s a darkness to “Young Ahmed” that audiences have never seen before in the work of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, the gifted Belgian brothers whose profoundly humane, unapologetically realist dramas have twice earned them the Palme d’Or in Cannes. Like surrogate parents to troubled children, the sibling directors have taken on their share of difficult [...]

  • Radegund

    Cannes: Fox Searchlight Nabs Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life'

    Fox Searchlight has picked up rights for U.S. and several international territories on Terrence Malick’s contemplative World War II drama “A Hidden Life,” following its enthusiastic reception at the Cannes Film Festival. “A Hidden Life” tells the true story of the Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter, who rejected Adolf Hitler and objected to the war. He [...]

  • China's Zhou Dongyu Is Focusing on

    China's Zhou Dongyu Plans to Focus on Acting, Says Female Roles Improving

    China’s Zhou Dongyu may have taken a recent turn as a producer, but the 27-year-old actress plans to focus on honing her craft in front of the camera rather than branching out too much into other roles behind it. She also believes that female roles are increasing in quantity and quality in China, and is [...]

  • German Films Cocktail Cannes 2019 CannesMay

    Cannes: German Films Celebrates Festival Films at Villa Rothschild

    Pictured: Peter Herrmann, chairman of German Films, Michael Weber of The Match Factory, and Simone Baumann, managing director of German Films. Simone Baumann, the managing director of German Films, celebrated the many German co-productions screening in the Cannes Film Festival at the promotional agency’s cocktail party Saturday at Villa Rothschild in Cannes. “Germany is one [...]

  • Steven Gaydos, Jacob Weydemann, Katriel Schory,

    Variety Celebrates 10 Producers to Watch in Cannes

    CANNES–Variety honored its 10 Producers to Watch for 2019 at a brunch on Monday morning at Cannes’ Plage des Palmes. Launched at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998, the annual event fetes 10 producers from the U.S. and the international film community who share a common commitment to bold, original, provocative storytelling. The films produced by [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content