Oscar® "Mominee" Betsy Franco
BF: He doesn't think of it as separate. He just does it all. I don't see any separations. I see them as informing each other. I don't think James sees "this role, that role, this role, that role."
KF: Is it true that he's directing a documentary about the production of the play Metamorphosis, Junior Year, which is based on your young adult novel?
BF: This is one of the most wonderful things that has happened in a long time. It started with my novel Metamorphosis, Junior Year, which my son Tom illustrated. ... Then, James and Dave read the audio book. Then, the local theater that's been around for decades, the wonderful Palo Alto Children's Theatre, saw me at a book signing event and asked me if I would be willing to have this novel staged. At first I didn't think I would be writing the play, but then I thought who else? I knew the book better than anyone. So I started writing the play. The head of the theatre and I decided we would do it a much different way. Normally, you cast, rehearse, and perform. We wanted to include the teenagers in the process. They have a Teen Arts Council that's very powerful and active. The Teens Art Council agreed to produce our play, and they helped us with workshops.
I told James that we were going to involve the teens for three months. He sat forward on the couch and really questioned me about it. A day later he asked me, "How would you feel about me doing a documentary about the making of the play?" We involved teen filmmakers to help with the documentary. This is really what I'm about—encouraging creativity in teenagers and young people. This allowed actors, teens interested in tech, filmmakers and so on to try out and practice these skills with the help of filmmakers. It's insane. This thing has become so much bigger than me, and I love that.