‘Black Swan’ Backlash: Unpaid Interns Who Worked on the Movie Are Suing

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A new lawsuit alleges that the set of Black Swan was almost as ruthless as the backstabbing dance world it was portraying.

The Oscar-winning, box-office conquering film that showed us the bloodier side of ballet is under fire from a pair of interns who worked on set during the movie’s production. Alex Footman and Eric Glatt are suing the film’s production company, Fox Searchlight, for taking advantage of unpaid interns, reports the New York Times. The two men worked as interns on the set — Footman made coffee and filled lunch orders and Glatt created documents for purchase orders and spreadsheets for personnel files — during filming from 2009 to 2010.

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By law, unpaid interns are to gain insightful experience through their work, as they would through an educational course. Unpaid interns are not to be used as a replacement for actual employees, yet the men say they were carrying out the same tasks that production assistants and bookkeepers would be asked to do. So the two men filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday, seeking not only back pay but also an injunction against Fox Searchlight from taking advantage of unpaid interns in the future.

Black Swan had more than $300 million in revenues,” Alex Footman told the Times. “If they paid us, it wouldn’t make a big difference to them, but it would make a huge difference to us.”

This isn’t the first time the movie has come under fire from its employees who aren’t Natalie Portman: earlier this year, Portman’s body double/dancer, Sarah Lane, criticized the film’s promoters for claiming that Portman had done the majority of her character’s dancing. Lane insisted that she was the one who should be credited as the dance talent in the movie’s grueling scenes.

Hey, here’s an idea: instead of making a movie about the brutal world of ballet, why doesn’t Hollywood make a movie about the brutal world of making a movie about ballet? You can thank us later, moviegoers.

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