The writer-director-producer-actor-poet-professor was promoting “Making a Scene With James Franco,” a 10-episode series that mashes up famous movie scenes, at a launch event Wednesday night in New York.
Franco, when he first engaged with AOL, envisioned the series as a kind of artistic challenge: how to combine two disparate films together and create something new. But comedy quickly bubbled to the surface.
“We knew in the very least these would end up being weird,” Franco told Variety. “They ended up being really funny — unintentionally.”
The approach he and his producers took was to solicit input from fans about their favorite scenes. They then put the most popular ones on a spinning wheel, giving it a whirl to determine which two movie scenes (or scene and genre) to combine. “I liked this idea of giving up some control,” Franco said.
The resulting first four eps, in which Franco stars: “BatJuice,” melding “Batman” and “Beetlejuice”; “Here’s Jimmy!”, recasting “The Shining” as a romcom; “Silent Taxi Driver,” a silent-movie rendition of the Martin Scorsese film; and “Dirty Dancing Dogs” (“Dirty Dancing” plus “Reservoir Dogs” — “Nobody cuts off Baby’s ear”). The segments are available to watch on AOL, here.
Movies to be featured in the remaining eps include “Grease,” “The Godfather,” “Titanic,” “Wayne’s World,” “Twilight” and “When Harry Met Sally.” While the “Making a Scene” bits poke fun at the films, the series also pays homage to them. “It felt like a mini-education,” Franco said.
One of the reasons AOL sought Franco: He’s got 2.48 million Twitter followers for @JamesFrancoTV, whom he alerted today about the debut of the series.
Making a digital series is an entirely different experience than making a movie, Franco said, with lower budgets and perhaps lower expectations in the digital realm. “The film business is the film business,” he said. “There’s artistic pressure and financial pressure.”
Franco also has a deal with Disney’s Maker Studios, with which his company is producing several series.
“Making a Scene” is produced by Franco’s Rabbit Bandini Prods. and Trium Entertainment. Deal with AOL was brokered by CAA. According to Franco, shooting began on the digital series the week after “Of Mice and Men,” in which he starred, finished its run on Broadway in late July.
AOL secured Verizon Communications as the exclusive sponsor for “Making a Scene.” The telco has previously sponsored two other AOL originals, “The Future Starts Here,” with Tiffany Shlain, and “Hardwired 2.0″ hosted by YouTube star Justine Ezarik (a.k.a. iJustine).
Event was held at Manhattan’s NeueHouse club and shared workspace venue.