For filmmaker Lorene Scafaria, making ‘Hustlers’ was far from easy

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Director Lorene Scafaria and Constance Wu behind the scenes on the set of HUSTLERS. Photo credit: Barbara Nitke

In the new movie ‘Hustlers,’ Constance Wu plays a struggling stripper named Destiny. After a bad outing at the New York club where she’s just gotten a job, she wanders onto the rooftop where she encounters the older and wiser, Ramona-- played by Jennifer Lopez. Ramona is the star act and she appears to have it all, so Destiny turns to her for advice.

Ramona decides to team up with Destiny and together they work to wring as much money as possible from their rich clients--mostly Wall Street guys who come into the club after work.

Things are good for Destiny and Ramona until the crash of 2008, which left fewer rich guys to frequent the strip club. Confronting lean times, Ramona, Destiny and a few of their stripper friends concoct a series of increasingly shady schemes to steal money from guys who, in their view, had been stealing from the American people.

‘Hustlers’ is based on a real group of women who were profiled by New York Magazine’s The Cut in 2015.

Our guest today is Lorene Scafaria, who wrote and directed the film. Scafaria broke through when she wrote the screenplay for ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.’ She also wrote and directed two small movies-- ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ and ‘The Meddler.’ Nothing was easy about getting ‘Hustlers’ made, but Scafaria is nothing if not determined, starting with her attempt to find an agent at the beginning of her career.

She tells us about writing a bunch of query letters, then moving across the country, only to find the agent who told her to come to LA had switched agencies, leaving Scafaria without any representation.

After building up her career script by script, Scafaria talks about the battles she fought to make ‘Hustlers’ her way, and the fight to get herself into the directors chair. She also explains why she made a sizzle reel, mood board, and even took something called “liquid motion” classes with Constance Wu, all in preparation to make the film. Scafaria also had to deal with the film being dropped by Annapurna, picked up by STX and doing two major rewrites of the script under a super tight deadline. Then, it was a rush to actually film the movie. The process from greenlight to Toronto premiere was just 8 months.

And as to the question people may most want to know: is that actually Jennifer Lopez doing that insane pole dance? Yes! Scafaria tells us Lopez trained for 4 months, and when the day came to shoot the big scene, Scafaria directed the dance like a major stunt, with 300 extras watching.

Credits

Guest:
Lorene Scafaria - Screenwriter and director - @LoreneScafaria

Host:
Kim Masters

Producer:
Kaitlin Parker