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Thursday 21 August 2014

Franco: Trouble made me change

Published 24/07/2013 | 08:07

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James Franco has been asking for money to fund young film-makers

James Franco has revealed getting into trouble during high school was a wake-up call to make something of himself.

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The actor was arrested several times during his school days, and he dropped out of UCLA in his freshman year. But he's gone on to graduate from several institutions, including studying English at Yale, while juggling his prolific film career.

Asked where he found his creative drive, Franco said: "I guess it started at school. I got into a bit of trouble. At a certain point I realised that direction was not good.

"That's when I started being serious about everything that I am now - literature, film, art and acting."

His latest project is adapting his book of short stories, Palo Alto, for the big screen. Franco published the stories, based on his high school experiences, after studying creative writing at Brooklyn College a few years ago.

Though he's directed several films, Franco decided to hand the stories over to people he met at film school, where he studied himself before becoming a lecturer. To finance the films, Franco has turned to his fans through crowdfunding website Indiegogo.com, asking for help to raise 500,000 US dollars.

"If we went out in Hollywood and tried to do it the more traditional way, I think we'd have more resistance because they're really unknown and untried," he said.

Critics of crowdfunding - a popular choice among independent film-makers these days - have suggested it can be taking advantage of their fans, but Franco doesn't agree.

"Nobody's forcing anybody," he said. But he conceded: "I guess it is a sensitive issue. I didn't want this campaign to be raising money for one of my projects. I'm in a position where I can get funding in more traditional ways for the projects I direct."

Plus, "absolutely all" profits from the films will go to The Art Of Elysium, a non-profit organisation which gets people in the arts, including celebrities like Franco, to give their time to entertaining sick children in hospitals.

Franco said: "I needed those two things in place, and that way I felt OK. It's people giving money for two things that I believe in: young film-makers and supporting a charity I love."

:: View Franco's fundraising campaign at www.indiegogo.com/projects/palo-alto-stories-by-james-franco.

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