By Jenny Hendrix
10:49 AM EDT, June 19, 2013
The ubiquitous James Franco, author, actor, etc., etc., is raising funds on the website Indiegogo for a three-film series based on his 2011 short story collection, "Palo Alto."
The book, which was Franco's debut in the world of letters, was inspired by his youth in the California city of the title. "Although it's a book of fiction, it was inspired by experiences I had growing up here," Franco says on his fundraising video, "things that people I knew went through, and generally I see it as a book that's supposed to touch on universal things about being a teenager, coming of age, and learning about the bigger world."
Franco is trying to raise $500,000 to make the three films, which will be titled "Memoria," "Killing Animals," and "Yosemite," based on stories from the collection. As is usually the case with such crowd-funding platforms, potential donors will be rewarded: $500 gets you attendance at a VIP screening, while $1,000 will net you an associate producer credit on one of the films. For $5,000, you can be in the movie yourself. As of this writing, Franco has raised more than $45,000.
Plenty of celebrities have been using such crowd-funding platforms of late — including Kristin Bell and Rob Thomas, who raised $5.7 million to create a "Veronica Mars" film; Zach Braff, who raised $3.1 million for his film "Wish I Was Here"; and playwright David Mamet's two daughters, Zosia and Clara, who tried to raise funds for a music video. The practice is raising some eyebrows, as clearly someone like Franco has the advantage over lesser-known authors seeking to finance an adaption of their work.
One notable difference in Franco's case is that any proceeds from the sale of the films will be donated to the nonprofit Art of Elysium, which pairs artists and musicians with children battling serious illness.
Another is that Franco is putting his star power behind the project but will not direct the films himself. Instead, he says he's invited the "talented and up and coming" NYU filmmakers Nina Hjeti, Vladimir Bourdeau, Bruce Thierry Cheung, and Gabrielle Derneestere to adapt and direct them.
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