Poetry News

James Franco teaches poetry to NYU film students

By Harriet Staff


The New York Times had a reporter and photographer present for a Saturday night special class at NYU, taught by "America's most famous poetry geek," Mr. James Franco. The class, “Directing the Thesis I," for filmmaking grad students, is usually taught on Tuesday afternoons but was rescheduled due to Franco's crazy schedule. Though the nine students are there to discuss film projects, Franco starts them off with poems:

In May, before the class began, Mr. Franco assigned each student to conceive a short film inspired by a different C.K. Williams poem about “decay, but also a sense of memory and rejuvenation.”

In November, the class will travel to Detroit, a place where memory and attempts at rejuvenation abound, to shoot the movie. He compared the film to the multidirector mash-ups “New York, I Love You” and its predecessor, “Paris, Je T’aime.”

Part of the draw of the class, even apart from the marquee teacher, is the chance at the limelight it offers: upon completion, the piece will head to film festivals.

“Often you make films you never finish and it happens in a vacuum,” said Pamela Romanowsky, a graduate of N.Y.U. and an acquaintance of Mr. Franco’s who is unofficially taking part in the class. “This is unlike all the other courses I’ve taken.”

Mr. Franco is scheduled to teach a similar course in the spring, where the assignment will be to create a film based on the poet Stephen Dobyns’s book “Black Dog, Red Dog.” He said that U.C.L.A., CalArts, and N.Y.U. have all offered him positions for next fall, but that he hadn’t made any decisions yet.

We can't argue with his methods! But the emphasis on poetry in filmmaking reminds us: when does The Broken Tower hit the rest of America's streets?

Originally Published: September 26th, 2011