Since his widely-acclaimed portrayal as the title character in TV’s James Dean in 2001, James Franco has appeared in almost ninety films and become a renaissance man of cinema. His filmography spans summer blockbusters (Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), inventive comedies (Pineapple Express, This is the End), and Oscar-nominated dramas (Milk, 127 Hours). Franco has also become a prolific writer, director, and producer, both during and after his tenure at New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts. Franco’s latest directorial effort, Sal, opens in select cities on Friday, November 1st. Sal chronicles the last day in the life of actor Sal Mineo who appeared in Rebel Without a Cause, received two Oscar nominations before he was twenty, and was shot in Los Angeles at the age of thirty-seven. In anticipation of the film’s release, I recently enjoyed a conversation with Franco about co-writing and directing the film. Here’s what Franco shared with me about directing a period film on a budget, an innovative approach to the biopic genre, and crafting Sal.