James Franco took time away from filming his upcoming screen adaptation of John Steinbeck’s In Dubious Battle to talk with a crowd at The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta earlier this morning. The discussion was part of the Atlanta Film Festival, being held in multiple venues throughout the city from March 20th through 29th.
Franco shared his view on multiple topics, ranging from his experiences in acting and directing to advice for budding new filmmakers. The following are a few highlights, along with some photos from the event.
Never Stifle Creativity
With the internet making it extremely easy to reach audiences with platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo, there is nothing that should “stay sitting on the shelf.” He emphasized this importance of getting a final product in front of an audience, saying “I do believe feedback is incredibly important… That is the final ingredient that will make you better.” He also cautioned that some of that feedback can be harmful. Just read the comments section of nearly any YouTube video and you can understand why. In the context of Franco’s “Jack of All Trades” career, including acting, writing, directing, painting – there’s not much the guy hasn’t dabbled in – he advised to not listen to critics that try to pigeonhole talent. Promoting creativity was one of the main messages taken away from his discussion.
Ultimately, Franco is able to do so much because he lets the crew do their jobs. Film production is daunting feat, requiring writing, camera work, lighting, acting, sound, editing and more, and all these disciplines must work together to create the vision of the director and/or producers. He used The Room by Tommy Wiseau as an example, commending Wiseau on his ambition and ability to execute, saying that “He got it done and he made his movie. But, he was working in a collaborative medium, and not understanding it was a collaborative medium. If he had just asked for a little help…maybe he wouldn’t have had to have shot the whole thing in…the parking lot of the lighting rental place.”
Place Yourself Among Those You Trust
Another topic that Franco discussed was the necessity of working with people he trusted, which made it easy for him not to micromanage all aspects of production. Along with his usual crew of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, he mentioned a current co-star from In Dubious Battle, Vincent D’Onofrio (of Full Metal Jacket and Law & Order: Criminal Intent fame). Franco said that there was no reason for him to have to explicitly tell D’Onofrio every detail because he trusted him with the character.
In all, Franco talked for about forty-five minutes to an hour, despite a late night of filming the previous day. The man must run on a gallon of coffee each day, and it was clear the audience was very appreciative for the insights into the film industry which he offered.
Other events showcasing Franco’s work this week at the festival include The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards (producer), Masculinity/Femininity (actor), and I am Michael (actor).
Photo Credit: Jason Corman
Photo Credit: Jason Corman for FanBolt