AFI Movie Club: HUSTLE & FLOW
HUSTLE & FLOW was written and directed by Craig Brewer – and its gritty Memphis setting was brought to life by cinematographer Amy Vincent, a graduate of the AFI Conservatory (Class of 1991).
Watch Cedric the Entertainer announce HUSTLE & FLOW:
Movie Trivia about TODAY’S FILM
DID YOU KNOW? HUSTLE & FLOW is the second film from director Craig Brewer. His first was an independent feature called THE POOR AND THE HUNGRY, which he made for only $20,000. Brewer described the creative process and hustle required to get THE POOR AND HUNGRY made as the inspiration for DJay’s story in HUSTLE & FLOW.
DID YOU KNOW? The film attracted the attention of prominent film producer Stephanie Allain – who said that Craig Brewer is, “a born storyteller.” After watching Brewer’s previous film THE POOR AND THE HUNGRY and reading the script for HUSTLE & FLOW, she told him, “You’ve got to direct it.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Brought onto HUSTLE & FLOW by producer Stephanie Allain, John Singleton joined the production to assist in soliciting studio support – hoping to leverage his run of box office successes in support of a story believed in. When studios still balked at the film’s moderate budget, Singleton actually financed HUSTLE & FLOW himself.
DID YOU KNOW? HUSTLE & FLOW is dedicated to pioneering Memphis record producer Sam Phillips. The founder of Sun Records, Phillips’ studio produced iconic and groundbreaking recordings by Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Howlin’ Wolf and Elvis Presley – whose career start is often credited to Phillips’ influence.
DID YOU KNOW? Cinematographer Amy Vincent (AFI, Class of 1991) won Best Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival for her work on HUSTLE & FLOW. She reteamed with director Craig Brewer for BLACK SNAKE MOAN and the remake of FOOTLOOSE.
DID YOU KNOW? HUSTLE & FLOW brought together Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard for a story of street level inspiration and ambition. The two stars would later collaborate again on TV’s EMPIRE – returning to a contentious dynamic centered on the fiery passions of music-making and myth building. In addition to serving in various producer roles, HUSTLE & FLOW director Craig Brewer directed 10 episodes of the series.
DID YOU KNOW? HUSTLE & FLOW earned two Oscar® nominations, including a Best Actor nod for Terrence Howard’s indelible performance as DJay. Three 6 Mafia and Cedric Coleman took home a Best Song Oscar® for “It’s Hard Out There for a Pimp.”
DID YOU KNOW? Made for under $3 million, HUSTLE & FLOW’s opening weekend box office nearly tripled its production budget – and its total domestic grosses were almost 10 times the film’s modest cost to make.
The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions
-What is the significance of the title? How do hustle and flow reflect the dichotomy of aspiration and artistry? How is that dichotomy universal to the creative process and how is it specific to the film’s setting.
-Is DJay a sympathetic protagonist? With HUSTLE & FLOW’s story centering on his rise and fall, do you believe the audience is meant to empathize with him as a person? Do you root for his success – and how do you reconcile against his more egregious abuses?
-What did you notice about how the film is shot and edited? How does the production itself capture Memphis, and what do they communicate about the parallel energies of making music and hustling on the street?
-How does the music inform the presentation of DJay’s story in the film? Does the soundtrack serve a biographical narrative for DJay’s character, create mood or both?
-What’s your favorite song from the film?
-Though not directly biographical of any real-life artist or artists, do you think HUSTLE & FLOW is an accurate representation of the Memphis music scene? What aspects ring particularly true and what felt more unique to the narrative?
-With the film dedicated to Sun Records Sam Phillips, how does HUSTLE & FLOW pay homage to the heritage of Memphis’ iconic music scene? What parallels exist between classic performers such as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Howlin’ Wolf and Elvis Presley and the more contemporary hip hop world of HUSTLE & FLOW? What are the differences? How does genre – and race – play a role in those differences?
-How would you rate HUSTLE & FLOW?
Watch director Craig Brewer talk about working on the film in this exclusive AFI Archive video:
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