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Lorene Scafaria’s film Hustlers tells the true story of a group of strippers in recession-era New York City who team up to con Wall Street clientele; it’s based on the 2015 New York magazine article by Jessica Pressler.
But as the writer-director tells the Writer Roundtable, she didn’t get the chance to “meet the real women ahead of time,” so she stepped into the world of strip clubs to research the film. Scafaria explained what surprised her the most about what she learned, saying, “There’s no job security for these women.”
“They’re not employees of these clubs, they pay house fees, they tip everybody out, so the difference between a good night and a bad night is a lot, it’s how much you go home with,” she explained.
“It’s not necessarily did you have a great interaction with someone or a bad interaction. I mean, certainly, there’s a lot to deal with in that way, but the structure of it, the camaraderie among the women, there’s obviously some competition, but they work in pairs and teams, it’s much more lucrative.”
Scafaria goes on to discuss how she felt a “real kinship” with the women she spoke with, saying, “I heard so many different experiences. I think that’s the beautiful part of it, that you can talk to so many different women who are having the time of their lives…this job provides incredible freedom, they work for a month, they go take their band on the road, and other girls who escaped a bad relationship. For some people it’s transitional, and the other people, it’s where they are, and so it was incredibly enlightening to speak to them.”
The full Writer Roundtable is set to air Feb. 2 on SundanceTV. Scafaria appears on the roundtable panel along with Charles Randolph (Bombshell), Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit), Kasi Lemmons (Harriet), Anthony McCarten (The Two Popes) and Destin Cretton (Just Mercy). Follow all the Oscar-season roundtables at THR.com/Roundtables.
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