Werc Werk Works to Bring Us Howl with James Franco
by Kevin Powers
February 20, 2009
Back in July amidst a storm of pre-Milk James Franco news, we reported that the current graduate student was set to star as the lead in Howl, an Allen Ginsberg biopic named after the late poet's best known work and focusing on his trial after its publication. According to Variety, that project is a now further along with production and financing being handled by indie studio Werc Werk Works. The studio just launched this past August and has two other small projects in the "werks" (pun intended), The Turin Horse and Forgiveness. Shooting will start on March 16 in New York for Howl, which sounds pretty interesting.
Howl surrounds the 1957 obscenity trial that resulted from the publication of Ginsberg's three-part poem, which teemed with drug use and sexuality (both hetero and homo). The film will also include an "animated re-imagining" of the poem. Huh, I wonder how that's going to go? However controversial, the work is considered one of the most influential pieces of the Beat Generation. We've yet to see what a production might look like coming out of the studio, so I'm curious to see who might pick this up for distribution. Focus Features, maybe? They're keen on the more creative projects, and they brought Milk to the big screen.
Speaking of Milk, that film's director, Gus Van Sant, is set to executive produce Howl. Rob Epstein, who won two Oscars for the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk (among many other awards) will direct this alongside writer Jeffrey Friedman. Howl sounds like it's set to be a pretty solid, artful piece. Thoughts?