James Franco Launches Altruistic Indiegogo Campaign; Profits Go To Charity

James Franco Palo Alto Stories IndieGoGoWho's next to weigh in on the celebrity crowdfunding discussion? Well, James Franco recently launched his first crowdfunding effort on Indiegogo -- but before you lump it with his Oz the Great and Powerful co-star Zach Braff's Kickstarter project, hear him out. Based on his book Palo Alto Stories, not 1 but 3 feature films are slated to be made, and are to be directed by some of Franco's fellow NYU students. Franco also plans to donate any profit the films make to charity. Read on for more from Franco on the campaign.

Franco is putting his own money into the project, as well as donating 100% of the films' profits (if they do make profit) to The Art of Elysium, a charity he's worked with a lot in the past that "encourages working actors, artists and musicians to voluntarily dedicate their time and talent to children who are battling serious medical conditions." He explains:

My intention is not to go onto Indiegogo and ask people to donate money that will then eventually go into my pocket. If I'm gonna make money off a piece of art then I'll go to a financier.

Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/68571575

For the appropriately cryptic 480p interview from Back to the Movies:

These are projects that are near and dear to my heart, and these are filmmakers that are very very talented, but they are young so no one is going to be reaching out to them to give them a shot. And I want to give them a shot, because I know they deserve it.

For many of us, crowdfunding has quickly become the best way to get a project made, but is it the future of film financing for everyone? Franco weighs in:

I don't know that it's going to completely take over. The traditional types of financiers will find a way to work and keep their place in the business. But it's an exciting new road for indie filmmaking. But I just wanna make it clear that I'm not doing this for my own project. I'm not using my celebrity to get money for a project that I'm going to direct. This is really to give a chance to talented people who deserve it -- who wouldn't have the opportunity otherwise -- and also to raise money for a charity that I care about a lot. Those had to be in place for me to raise money this way.

Cool, so it's cinematic charity à la James Franco. The films themselves, entitled Memoria, Killing Animals, and Yosemite will be directed by Nina Ljeti, Vladimir Bourdeau, Bruce Thierry Cheung, and Gabriel Demestree. Aiming to shoot by August of this year with completion by the fall for festival circuits, is a pretty ambitious timeline. Even at $500k, split between 3 films, the budgets for these projects are very modest.

With only 13 days to go and only $168,000 raised, it actually surprises me there isn't more support for this. However, that's a benefit of using Indiegogo over Kickstarter -- if they don't hit the $500k mark by the end of their campaign, they still receive the money they were able raise.

What do you think about Franco's campaign? Do you prefer to see celebrities using their power this way? Join the discussion in the comments below.


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Too soon, he is suppose to wait until next spring when I start going to NYU. So I can By part of it.

Still, it is surprising to see that there is just 680 founders so far. It is that right? who knows? but in the end, is not a very bad idea. This maybe the start of something... Maybe.

July 5, 2013 at 1:00PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Edgar- I went to NYU and let me just say you'd be better off moving to NYC, buying a RED, and following nofilmschool!!!!

July 9, 2013 at 9:27AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

chong Wang

Sounds a little slick to me. So your'e using your name on indiegogo to promote and modestly pay your friends. If your friends are that talented (I dont dispute that) and you believe in them so much why don't you donate the money you raise, fund it yourself then donate any of the possible profits. That is true altruism. What you're doing is slapping lipstick on a pig and telling us it's a thoroughbred racehorse. I call B.S. on this.

July 5, 2013 at 1:07PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

David F

I guess you didn't watch the video pitch. Franco already put up some of his own money. The funds raised via Indiegogo aren't going to "modestly pay" his friends, but to help fund the full production and distribution of all 3 films. The NYU classmates of his that he selected to direct probably aren't getting paid that much, if anything at all. And all profits from those films will then go to charity. No sure where the B.S. is in that.

July 5, 2013 at 1:30PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


This is one guy I don't like, so screw this.

July 5, 2013 at 4:29PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Some people use their success to buy mansions and do lines off hookers. Others like philanthropy and to help their friends make films. Yeah. What an asshole.

July 6, 2013 at 8:17AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I like Franco, and he killed it in "Springbreakers". Amazing performance. I wish him successes with this.

July 6, 2013 at 3:37PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM



July 6, 2013 at 4:45PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Micah Van Hove


Thanks for including a few of our video segments in your article. Until our research, we didn't realize James had an expansive life outside of acting that includes him being a student, teacher, author, filmmaker etc. What you see with his Indiegogo campaign is him leveraging his known status as an actor to draw attention to his "other life" where he is trying to help some young filmmakers who he is friends with and who inspire him. At the same time he is able to shine light on a charity that has really impacted his life. I grew up in Palo Alto, so I am looking forward to seeing these 3 films made.

July 7, 2013 at 1:01PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


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July 25, 2013 at 4:25AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM