Elizabeth Redleaf and Christine Walker's Werc Werk Works will produce and fully finance Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Howl starring James Franco.

Howl is set to go into production on March 16 in New York City and centres on the obscenity trial into Allen Ginsberg's groundbreaking Beat Generation poem of the same name.

Franco stars as Ginsberg in the picture which will incorporate a reimagining of Ginsberg reciting the poem through animated sequences designed by illustrator Eric Drooker under the supervision of animation director John Hays.

Telling Pictures' Epstein and Friedman wrote the screenplay and will jointly direct and produce alongside Werc Werk Works president Walker. Gus Van Sant serves as executive producer with Werc Werk Works CEO Redleaf.

This is the third production for Werc Werk Works, which launched in August 2008 and is producing and financing Todd Solondz's follow-up to Happiness, which is tentatively titled Forgiveness and is in post-production as the film-makers try to land a Cannes slot. Bella Tarr's drama The Turin Horse is now in production.

'Howl represents the breed of edgy and sophisticated film that we are concentrating on here at Werc Werk Works,' Redleaf said. 'When you have a gifted cast telling a remarkable story, the results are usually favourable for a wide audience. When the opportunity to bring this film to life arose, we knew we had to get involved. From the onset, there has been a great sense of collaboration between Rob, Jeffrey and Gus on this picture.'