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Authors: James Franco

Directing Herbert White

BOOK: Directing Herbert White
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Other Books by James Franco

The Book of Happiness

Moving Pictures/Moving Sculptures: The Films of James Franco

Actors Anonymous

A California Childhood

Strongest of the Litter


Dangerous Book Four Boys

Palo Alto

Herbert White


James Franco

Copyright © 2014 Whose Dog R U International, Inc.

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This edition published in 2014 by
House of Anansi Press Inc.
110 Spadina
Avenue, Suite 801
Tel. 416-363-4343
Fax 416-363-1017

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Franco, James, 1978–, author

Directing Herbert White / James Franco.

ISBN 978-1-77089-457-0 (pbk.), 978-1-77089-458-7 (html)

I. Title.

PS3606.R34D57 2014 811'.6 C2013-907009-5

Cover design: Kyle G. Hunter

We acknowledge for their financial support of our publishing
program the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the
Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund.

“How can I lose? In one hand I've got Marlon Brando yelling, ‘Fuck you,' and in the other, Montgomery Clift asking, ‘Please forgive me.'”

—James Dean to Dennis Hopper

To Frank Bidart in the left hand and Tony Hoagland in the right.
And all the other great ones between.



Because I played a knight,

And was on a screen,

Because I made a million dollars,

Because I was handsome,

Because I had a nice car,

A bunch of girls seemed to like me.

But I never met those girls,

I only heard about them.

The only people I saw were the ones who hated me,

And there were so many of those people,

It was easy to forget about the people who I heard

Liked me, and shit, they were all fucking fourteen-year-olds.

And I holed up in my place and read my life away,

And I watched a million movies, twice,

And I didn't understand them any better.

But because I played a knight,

Because I was handsome,

This was the life I made for myself.

Years later, I decided to look at what I had made,

And I watched myself in all the old movies, and I hated that guy I saw.

But he's the one who stayed after I died.

Film Festival

Don't be in a rush.

I have compiled a few movies,

A little film festival.

Watch and judge, you are the jury.

A little film festival in your mind.

I think you'll hate these films, because they're mine.

And I've created some sick

Things that are not nice for people to see.

First I bored everyone

And then at the end

I put in a shot of my dick

And another one with some blood.

A little film festival just for me.

All movies suck. Which ones are good?

The ones that are good, even they are no good.

You have to like no-good movies to like movies.

Now I am watching my little film festival.

And I'm my biggest fan.

It's nice when you know what you like, and I do.

I like the shape of my face and how I sit

Curled in a pose-non-pose.

James, thank you, thank you, your festival is the best.

Dear James, I don't understand your festival. You were so great in

Freaks and Geeks,
why don't you stick with that kind of stuf

I also killed a few people.

A little film festival just for me.


The devices make it easy now.

Smooth is what the old timers say

Is best.

From scene to lapidary scene

So inevitably, who is aware

That someone arranged these shots?


But me, I like a bit of fast pace

Mixed with slow. I don't cut

Unless I have to. Long takes,

Give it to the actors,

Let them have their pacing

And emphasis. Viewers are too used

To polished performances from which

The editor has taken away all the messiness.

Bring in

The seams when possible: a shot that goes

Out of focus, an actor stumbling on

A line. In
Paranoid Park
there is this

Punk girl that keeps looking straight into

The camera when she speaks,

It's like she's speaking to us.

That's non-professional and only calls

Attention to the filmmakers.

So what?

Who's not aware we're watching film?

Even when the Brothers Lumière

Shot that train coming toward the camera,

And the audience got up and ran,

I'm pretty sure they knew

What was really going on.


It's fun to react. It may be less

Intrusive, doing long takes—

Never cutting, so

The audience is lulled into a long,

Slow meditation, a space where actor,

Director, editor, and audience

All come together and feel something.

Jeanne Dielman,
we sit with the prostitute

At her kitchen table,

As she pounds the meat onto the flour,

Rolls it all with an egg—two slabs—

And puts them into a bowl, and covers them,

For later, for her son.

Chateau Dreams

I picture them all, in different positions,

And the same positions,

And I, like a sculptor, would position them, and mold them.

Or like a choreographer put them through the same paces,

Again and again.

At the center of the arrangement of chalk bungalows

There is an oval pool like a blue pill,

Huddled by ferns, palms and banana trees

Tended to be wild,

Webbed by a nexus of stone walkways.

In the day,

Mermaids and hairy mermen drape the brickwork.

At night the underwater lights electrify the pool zinc blue,

The surface cradles the oven-red reflection of the neon Chateau sign

Above Sunset, above the paparazzi and miniskirts.

There is a painting of a blond sailor,

Dressed in blue and red and white,

A stoic version of myself.

For nine months in '06, while fixing my house,

I stayed in the bungalows,

First in 82, next to the little Buddha in the long fountain


Lindsay Lohan was about.

The Chateau was her home, the staff her servants.

She got my room key with ease,

She came in at 3 a.m.

I woke on the couch, trying not to look surprised.

I read her a short story about a neglected daughter.

Every night Lindsay looked for me.

My Russian friend Drew was always around like a wraith

—He, like the blond painting, was my doppelganger—

Writing scripts about rape and murder.

A Hollywood Dostoevsky, he gambled his money away.

We played a ton of ping pong.


In '82, John Belushi died from a speedball in Bungalow 3;

In '54, forty-three-year-old Nick Ray

Fucked fifteen-year-old Natalie Wood in Bungalow 2;

In 2005, Lindsay Lohan lived in room 19 for two years

Because “she didn't want to be alone.”

Ambulance calls were the regular antidote to her demon nights.

Midway through my stay,

I changed to Bungalow 89.

In that room,

I read a bunch of Jacobean plays

About revenge, seduction, and lust.

In Bungalow 89

There was the sailor on the wall,

Glass eyed and pale.

The room was on the second level,

The exterior walls hugged by vines.

Every night Lindsay looked for me and I hid.

Out the window was Hollywood.

Marlon Brando

I remember when I first watched

Brando in his wife-beater

And thought I had discovered him.

And then realized three generations

Had already succumbed to his power.

He has the strength of all that America

Has to offer from its art,

He is the bull and the ballerina.

I love Stanley Kowalski and Terry Malloy

Because they are the brutes

Puppeteered by a genius.

Instead of performances

They are manifestations of a wild mind

Wrestling with its crude incarnations.

Marlon Brando is man vs. nature

And that is what we want in a man.

Like Tennessee and Blanche

We want our poetic selves

Destroyed by handsome brutes

In wife-beaters and oiled hair,

The poetry of being fucked to death.

Los Angeles Proverb

The bricks of LA were mortared with thick Indian blood,

Girls so gorgeous brown, pounded into mush and then made into stories.

Then the Spanish blood flowed in the rivers, down south, and was gone, except

In Sepulveda, Van Nuys, Los Feliz, Pico, San Vicente;

The streets of the City of Angels tell stories.

The movie palaces were built with the bones of ten million actresses,

And the great mansions of Bel Air and Beverly Hills and Brentwood and the Palisades

Are the mausoleums of naked, drugged, stupid, happy, young actors,
all gone.

There are deals made, and they all mix and stink like the tar pit at La Brea.

LA sprawls:

Gangs, cars, palm trees, beaches, strip malls, 7-11s, smog, beaches,

Secret hideaways in the hills above Sunset,

There are four square blocks downtown, around Los Angeles Street
and 4th

That are nothing but crack addicts.

Hollywood is an idea.

I want to get into the thix of it.

Movies won't be around forever.


The Best of the Smiths

Side A

1. There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

I waited in the shadow of my stupid house.

The Mustang rolled up in the low black water,

Growling softly, then it stopped and purred.

Dark green paint like a deep flavor,

Like hard, sour-apple candy catching in my throat.

A hint of his blond swoop, the red button of his cigarette.

Smoke out the window. Sterling:

His name like a sword reflecting light in a dark room.

I'm the sword swallower.

And the grass licked my shoes.

BOOK: Directing Herbert White
6.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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