The avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations across Hollywood over the last month has made the entire industry finally stand up and take notice. But even before the recent revelations James Franco was already looking to provide more movie opportunities for filmmakers with different voices and from different backgrounds.
“I think change is great,” Franco admitted when I sat down to talk to the actor, writer and director about his upcoming film “The Disaster Artist.”
“I would say as far as our new company goes, and the way that we talk about new projects that we want to do, I am just plain bored of the same old white, male protagonist kind of thing. So our first thing out that we are going to produce probably will be this thing called ‘Zola,’ which has a young African American female protagonist. And that was sort of our thing already.”
It was confirmed back in February, 2016, that Franco was looking to make the Rolling Stone article, “Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind The Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted” into a film. At the time it was reported that he would be directing, too, but Franco revealed to me that a female director will oversee production instead.
Franco then went into detail about how, as a film school professor, he had seen the progress of hugely talented young female directors immediately stunted as soon as they tried to enter the film industry.
“I was a teacher in grad film schools already for six years. It was a really interesting thing, because half of my classes were female. And then something weird happens after film school. These are the best film schools in the world. And something happens where like 3% of all studio movies are directed by females. And I was like, ‘What is happening?’ Because I am seeing the best students in the country and they are half female. I guess just out of film school the guys were just getting different opportunities.”
I then asked Franco whether some kind of “boy’s club” was blocking their progress, to which he responded, “Obviously that shows there is some kind of boy’s club going on.”
“So with our production company we are very conscious of the kind of stories we are telling and the kinds of people we are working with. We are very interested in working with a diverse array of people. So change is good and we are all for it.”
James Franco’s new film “The Disaster Artist,” which tells the story of the production of “The Room,” widely regarded to be the worst film ever made, will have a limited release on December 1 before expanding on December 8.