Lorene Scafaria has steadily, successfully climbed the directing ladder

From Holmdel Township, New Jersey, Lorene Scafaria was born on May 1st, 1978. The writer and director realized the first moments in which she was attracted to writing was when she won the Pizza Hut gift certificate from her school on a regular basis for book reports. Later on in her teenage years, at the age of 17, she wrote and produced a play in Red Bank, New Jersey. She continued her studies at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania for a year, after which she transferred to Montclair State University in New Jersey to major in English and minor in Theater. She had a strong passion for writing, and wanted to pursue it as a career, leading her to make a decision to move to New York City. During her time there, she started building up her writing resume, beginning with writing and acting in a play called That Guy and Others Like Him. Afterwards, writing jobs were harder to come by and she turned to small acting gigs in short films such as Bullet in the Brain, Helium Dog, and various theater productions. From then on, she also acted in A Million Mile in 2001, Unbound (a short film) in 2004, The Nines in 2007, and Coherence in 2013. In an attempt to get better jobs, she tried her luck in Los Angeles, California. By the time she moved to L.A., she had already written three screenplays. 

In 2005, she got the job on Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist as a writer and actress. The teen comedy – and her ninth script – gained her her first Writers Guild credit. She also collaborated with other screenwriters Diablo Cody, Dana Fox, and Elizabeth Merriweather to create a Fempire group, leading to the four women being called potentially the “most successful female screenwriting team ever” according to the Toronto Star. Their message is for women is to encourage and build each other up, to gain an audience for works by women, and to inspire everyone through their strength and creativity. It gives me hope for the future of female filmmakers and female stories when people like Lorene Scafaria are on the scene. 

She won the Athena Film Festival Award for Creativity and Sisterhood in 2012, which opened doors and opportunities for her to work on larger productions at bigger studios. For example, she worked for Paramount Pictures in the Iraqi war docudrama Sweet Relief and Warner Bros. for Mighty Flynn. Her portfolio began to fill up as she booked bigger, more successful jobs.

In Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Penny (Keira Knightley) and Dodge (Steve Carell) help each other reconnect with distant family and an old love before an asteroid destroys life on Earth. (Credit: Focus Features)

In 2009, she wrote the script for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, which was adapted and then released in 2012. In the process of writing this script to her “terrific debut as a director” (as written in a review by FF2 Media Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner), Scafaria explained in an interview with Jan, “The romantic comedies of the last 10 years, they’ve been dying on the vine […] But I love relationships. I love intimate stories about people; whether it’s a guy and a girl or whatever it is, I like intimate stories of people and how they relate to each other.”

Scafaria’s existential views are highlighted in the same interview where she asks “What if you take ’forever’ off the table? What if ‘forever’ doesn’t exist and you can’t promise someone that, does that change who you’re with?” Her profound and deep question is twisted into a lovely romantic comedy-drama. When pitching this idea, Lorene Scafaria had attached herself as director to the film, which was odd for everyone, but she tells FF2 Media that it made it an easier sell. 

Following on from the big success of Seeking for a Friend, Scafaria also wrote and directed the lovely comedy-drama The Meddler, released in 2015. The film “takes its time introducing offbeat characters who seem all wrong but turn out to be totally right,” as written in a review by FF2 Media Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner. This was nominated for the Alliance of Women Film Journalists for Best Woman Screenwriter. 

Her newest hit movie, Hustlers, was released in 2019. In a review by FF2 Media Associate Dayna Hagewood, she explains that the film “beautifully demonstrates the highs, lows, friendships, catastrophes, and subversive truths of the lives of multiple women that work in the stripping industry.” It is inspired by the New York magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores,” following a group of strippers post the 2008 economic crash, and how they take their lives back through its “excessive, indulgent, and enticing world of high-class strip clubs.” Dubbed as “one of the buzziest movies of the year” by Entertainment Weekly, Hustlers was nominated for a number of awards, including the Alliance of Women Film Journalists for both Best Woman Screenwriter and Best Writing Adapted Screenplay; Chicago Film Critics Association Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay; Dublin Film Critic Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay, and many more. 

Lorene Scafaria directs Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers (2019) (Photo by Barbara Nitke/Courtesy of STXfilms)

When pitching for the project, Scafaria says male studio heads were hesitant to fund and back up a story that shows strippers scamming wealthy Wall Street clients. As Jennifer Lopez told Entertainment Weekly, “Women are constantly sexualized, but when they find a way to profit from it, suddenly it’s a problem […] Hustlers digs into stories of [the strippers’] lives; the good, the bad, and the ugly.” Dayna Hagewood rates it 4.5/5 in her review for its “social critique and round of applause for female solidarity.”

Alongside these movies, Lorene Scafaria also worked in television. Her work on the TV ranges from acting in short films and videos to directing three episodes of worldwide popular TV series New Girl. She was the consulting producer of eleven episodes of Ben and Kate, and directed tv movies This is Heaven and Love is Dead. She has been credited for various achievements, where she has been able to mix her different abilities of acting and directing along with her passion for writing. She is contributing to the rising female power in this industry by telling women’s stories, and by writing and directing popular and successful films. Despite being brushed aside by male studio heads, Lorene Scafaria is an inspiration for her perseverance in getting her voice heard and selling her pitches into popular adaptations.

© Sophia Jin (4/9/20) FF2 Media

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Sophia is currently a student of classical music. She joined FF2 Media in 2018, and loves working with everyone on the team because not only does it promote women's roles in films, it also opens her up to more works done by women. Sophia is so glad that there is a space that is full of women alike in their passion to bring more attention to females who are just as capable or even more capable than men in the industry.
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