Lorene Scafaria

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Lorene Scafaria
Scafaria in 2019
Scafaria in 2019
Born (1978-05-01) May 1, 1978 (age 43)
Holmdel Township, New Jersey, U.S.
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • playwright
  • actress
  • singer
  • musician
  • songwriter
Years active1999–present
PartnerBo Burnham (2013–present)

Lorene Scafaria (born May 1, 1978) is an American director, screenwriter, playwright, actress, singer, musician, and songwriter. She wrote and directed the films Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012), The Meddler (2015), and Hustlers (2019), in addition to writing the film Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008).

Early life[edit]

Scafaria was born in Holmdel Township, New Jersey, on May 1, 1978, the daughter of Gail and Joseph R. Scafaria (1939–2009).[1] Her mother is half Canadian,[2] while her father was an Italian immigrant from Gioia Tauro.[1][3] She has a brother named Vincent.[1] She first became interested in writing when she began writing a report on a fake book once a month to win Pizza Hut gift certificates from her school. By the age of 17, she had written and staged her first play in Red Bank, New Jersey.[4] After graduating from Holmdel High School in 1995, she attended Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, but transferred to Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey after being unable to afford Lafayette's tuition. She graduated from Montclair with a BA in English with a minor in theater.[4][5]


After moving to New York City, Scafaria wrote and staged a play at the Producer's Club Theatre called That Guy and Others Like Him, in which she also played a role. She also had a small role in the acclaimed short film Bullet in the Brain, which won awards at nine festivals and was produced by CJ Follini.[4] Her writing agent had still yet to find her a job, so she took on more acting roles, appearing in many theater productions in addition to films such as Big Helium Dog and A Million Miles. She sent out queries to twenty different agents to seek representation, one of whom replied and asked her to move from New York to Los Angeles. Although she did not anticipate real success with the agent, she moved to Los Angeles and became roommates with screenwriter Bryan Sipe, whom she had previously met while making a film in her native New Jersey.[4] Neither of their work was considered "commercial" enough by studios, so they paired up to write a children's adventure film called Legend Has It. Revolution Studios bought the screenplay but asked for a re-write which Scafaria described as "far less interesting", and the project was ultimately shelved.[4]

In early 2005, Scafaria was hired by Focus Features to adapt Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's book Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist into a film of the same name.[4] The screenplay was her ninth, but her first adaptation.[6] Scafaria said to Moviemaker about the source material, "I grew up in suburban New Jersey, so I immediately identified with the characters, especially Norah. Everything from feeling uncomfortable in my own skin to having a father who's larger than life (even if only in your mind), her plight really spoke to me and seemed like it would speak to a lot of young girls. It wasn't hard to get inside the characters' heads—the authors' voices are so strong. Scafaria goes onto to say the film Before Sunrise was a big inspiration for the structure of the film. Scafaria wanted to bring a nostalgic take on the teen comedy claiming "it was just a real challenge to kind of bring it back to those movies that I grew up on in the ’80s, John Hughes movies and Cameron Crowe” [7]

Scafaria is good friends with fellow Nick & Norah writers Diablo Cody and Liz Meriwether, with whom she collaborates in a writing group they call the "Fempire".[6] In 2012, Scafaria and the "Fempire" received the Athena Film Festival Award for Creativity and Sisterhood.[8] She wrote the Iraq War docudrama Sweet Relief for Paramount Pictures and The Mighty Flynn, a spec script which she set up at Warner Brothers.[9] She has also written Man and Wife, which Gabriele Muccino is attached to direct.[9]

During the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Scafaria recorded an album called Garden Party, featuring original songs she sang and played on the piano.[6] The 2009 film Whip It! features the song "28" in the closing credits. She released her second album, Laughter and Forgetting, on April 1, 2010.

In 2009, Mandate Pictures picked up Scafaria's script Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,[10] a romantic comedy that focused on one man's quest for a meaningful connection amid the "end of days". The film marked the directorial debut for Scafaria, and was released in June 2012. In an interview with FF2 Media's Jan Huttner, Scafaria conveyed the depth and allure of the apocalypse concept: "Two people at the end of the world—all the chaos that's around them that they're sort of wheeling through—and obviously some people are just mowing their lawn and other people are doing heroin... but there's something to me that becomes even more romantic, and that's what I was excited to explore and see."This becomes a part of her style, adaptations, and personal feelings because she states “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” [11]

In 2015, Scafaria directed the comedy-drama The Meddler based on her own script.[12] The film tells the story of a mother and daughter trying to move on with life after the loss of their husband and father. Scafaria said to the New York Times, "There's a reason that it's all from Marnie's perspective because I never wanted to get a break from her. More than anything I wanted it to inspire empathy from people who might find themselves in this situation, whether it's through loss or some other circumstance that creates strife. Once I started showing people the script, that there was something so relatable about being the adult child of someone and trying to stay best friends."[13]

In 2019, Scafaria wrote and directed the crime drama film Hustlers, based on a 2015 New York magazine article by Jessica Pressler.[14] The film is about a woman who was born to Cambodian immigrant refugees and was deserted and forced to stay with her grandparents who tried her hardest to get by. The film was a critical and commercial success. Scafaria said to Vox on the real story, "There are a lot of movies that I think have touched upon these themes—The Wolf of Wall Street or movies like The Big Short—which explain [financial downturns] from the bullpen. But I'm really interested in seeing the impact that the 2008 recession had on these women who worked in Wall Street's backyard." When mentioning the relationship between Destiny and Ramona the writer and director said, “It felt like there was something more in between the lines — the story of these two women who became friends and formed this business together, and then here they are being interviewed separately years later.” [15] In an Oprah Daily 2019 Interview by Brie Schwartz with Roselyn Keo, the real-life stripper who went through the events of the film told her side of the story and how accurate it was. With a The Wolf of Wall Street like theme dealing with excess and greed, it made sense for the manipulation the women do to get into sleazy men’s pockets reached the heights they did with the business mentality she said was “The girls were looking for money, and the guys were looking for love. Supply and demand”. Scafaria wrote a glamourous and cohesive story that remained true to the attitude of the characters proving great skills in emotional depth and authenticity as a writer and director.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Scafaria has been in a relationship with comedian and filmmaker Bo Burnham since 2013. They reside together in Los Angeles.[17] Burnham's 2021 special Bo Burnham: Inside was dedicated to her, as shown in a message near the end of the credits - "for lor, for everything".[18]



Year Title Actor Writer Director Producer Composer Role Notes
1999 Big Helium Dog Yes No No No No Chastity
2001 A Million Miles Yes No No No No Jodi
Mayhem Motel Yes No No No No Abby
Bullet in the Brain Yes No No No No Eager student Short film
2004 Unbound Yes No No No No Girl Short film
2007 The Nines Yes No No No No Game Night Guest
2008 Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Yes Yes No No Yes Drunk Girl in Yugo Soundtrack credit: "12 Gays of Christmas"
2009 Whip It No No No No Yes Soundtrack: "28"
1045 Mercy Street No Yes No No No Short film
2012 Seeking a Friend for the End of the World No Yes Yes No No
2013 Coherence Yes No No No No Lee
2015 Ricki and the Flash No No No Yes No Executive producer
The Meddler No Yes Yes No No
2019 Hustlers No Yes Yes Yes No Co-producer


Year Title Writer Director Producer Role Notes
2010 Childrens Hospital Yes No No Episode: "Show Me on Montana"
2012 Made in Hollywood No No No Herself Episode #7.30
Ben and Kate Yes No Yes Writer - episode: "Career Day"
Consulting Producer: 3 episodes
Soundtrack writer: 2 songs
2013–2014 New Girl No Yes No 3 episodes
2021 Succession No Yes No Episode: "Too Much Birthday"
TBA Love Is Dead No Yes No Television film


  1. ^ a b c "Joseph R. Scafaria's Obituary on Asbury Park Press". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Irene Kiernan's Obituary on MyCentralJersey". MyCentralJersey. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-05-11. Retrieved 2013-05-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e f Plyer, Will (April 27, 2005). "Interviews: Lorene Scafaria". Done Deal Professional. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  5. ^ Bourbea, Mary Ann. "Holmdel Writer Brings Her Story to Hollywood", The Two River Times, May 25, 2016. Accessed February 5, 2018. "After graduating from Holmdel High School in 1995, Scafaria studied English with a writing concentration and a theater minor at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, and later transferred to Montclair State University, where she earned her degree."
  6. ^ a b c Kelly, Kevin (September 2008). "Lorene Scafaria Interview, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Toronto 2008". Spout.com. Archived from the original on 2009-11-26. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  7. ^ Forte, Kristin (2008-10-06). "Lorene Scafaria Makes A Date With Nick & Norah". MovieMaker Magazine. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  8. ^ "Athena Film Festival - February 9-12, 2017 New York City". Athena Film Festival. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b Fleming, Michael (March 5, 2007). "Muccino mans Universal's 'Wife'". Variety. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  10. ^ "Lorene Scafaria to Direct Seeking a Friend for the End of the World". Movieweb.com. 6 October 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  11. ^ Huttner, Jan (June 20, 2012). "Jan Chats With Writer/Director Lorene Scafaria" (PDF). FF2 Media. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  12. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 6, 2015). "Lorene Scafaria Helms 'The Meddler' With Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, JK Simmons". deadline.com. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  13. ^ Murphy, Mekado (2016-04-21). "Lorene Scafaria Narrates a Scene From 'The Meddler'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  14. ^ "'Hustlers': Cardi B, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer & Julia Stiles Join Constance Wu & Jennifer Lopez In Avenging Strippers Pic". March 19, 2019. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  15. ^ Wilkinson, Alissa (2019-09-08). "Hustlers director Lorene Scafaria on making a movie about strippers "from the neck up"". Vox. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  16. ^ https://www.oprahdaily.com/entertainment/a29038947/roselyn-keo-hustlers-movie-response/.
  17. ^ Luscombe (July 28, 2018), Time Magazine – "How Bo Burnham Turns Anxiety Into A Work Of Art", archived from the original on July 17, 2018, retrieved June 5, 2021
  18. ^ Brody, Richard (June 9, 2021). "Bo Burnham and the Possibilities of the Cinematic Selfie". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on June 10, 2021. Retrieved July 8, 2021.

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