Fox Filmed Entertainment today finally gave its side of that lawsuit filed by two interns against Fox Searchlight over their work on the hit indie Black Swan. The studio maintains that the interns were working for director Darren Aronofsky’s production company well before Fox Searchlight ever became the distributor.
Now that we have had a chance to review this suit, it is clear that these are completely meritless claims aimed solely at getting press coverage for the litigants and their attorneys. These interns were not even retained by Fox Searchlight and, in fact, were working for the production company that made Black Swan well before Fox Searchlight even acquired its rights in the film. These individuals were never employed as interns or retained in any capacity by Fox Searchlight, which has a proud history of supporting and fostering productive internships. We look forward to aggressively fighting these groundless, opportunistic accusations.
The two former interns who worked on Black Swan are looking to end what they say is the studio’s improper use of unpaid interns. The plaintiffs, Alex Footman and Eric Glatt, claim the studio violated federal and state wage laws and are seeking back pay for work that they say should have been done by paid Searchlight employees. The U.S. Department of Labor requires companies that use unpaid interns to provide training similar to that of an educational institution, among other criteria. Footman said that as a production intern, he made coffee, cleaned, and took lunch orders for the staff. The plaintiffs are far from the only college graduates who took an unpaid internship to try to get a foot in the door in the film industry. Their lawsuit is seeking class action status on behalf of more than 100 unpaid interns on Fox Searchlight film productions.