From his Freaks and Geeks days to last year’s Palo Alto, memories of the awkwardness of high school have filtered through many of James Franco’s projects. The latest is this short, which opens the actor-turned-producer’s The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards: a series of vignettes based on short stories by Robert Boswell. Directed by on-the-rise talent Mark Columbus, Guests tells a story of two pervasive forces of nature: the unrelenting bully who targets Charlie (Modern Family’s Rico Rodriguez), and the cancer that is killing his father (Matthew Modine). For Columbus, the film aims to capture the strange ways that memory works. “The way I imagine everything in my memory is always washed out and sun-dried, with details on the weirdest things,” he says. “Such as the little crevices on concrete walls, or dust particles floating in a still room.” The source material also had a personal resonance for the young director, whose father suffered a heart attack when he was a teenager. “My life experiences became my personal stamp on this piece of adapted material… Now I am able to share it with people around the world who may be going through the same thing."