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James Franco to direct film version of Twitter’s infamous “Zola” saga

Spring Breakers

Bringing together a real-life Spring Breakers-style story with real-life Spring Breakers star James Franco, Deadline is reporting that Hollywood’s favorite accent-loving imp has signed on to direct a film based on a popular Twitter story about a woman’s disastrous trip to Florida, America’s dangling factory for madness.

Franco is re-teaming with Goat director Andrew Neel (who’s providing the screenplay) for an adaptation of David Kushner’s “Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind The Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted,” a Rolling Stone article that delved into the reality underpinning the epic tale of dancing, prostitution, and violence that’s become known in Twitter circles as #TheStory. As recounted with considerable brio by Detroit-based dancer Aziah “Zola” Wells, the story finds our young protagonist recruited for a trip down South by a recent acquaintance via promises of lucrative stripping work, only for her to quickly get intertwined in the affairs of the woman’s self-harm prone boyfriend and menacing, violent pimp. As tricks are turned, cash changes hands, and bodies pile up, Zola does her best to keep things calm, finally escaping home to her waiting fiancé in Detroit.


After the story exploded on Twitter, Kushner tracked Wells (and her cohorts) down to trace what actually happened. Wells admitted to elaborating on some of the story’s more fantastic details, but she and her fellow travelers all agreed on at least most of the pertinent parts, especially those relating to “Z” (real name: Akporode “Rudy” Uwedjojevwe, currently sitting in a Nevada jail on charges of sex trafficking, battery, and numerous others), the story’s manipulative, dangerous villain.

It’s unclear how much Franco and Neel will pull from #TheStory, as opposed to the story, for their adaptation; given Franco’s unpredictable track record, this could just as easily turn into a madness-infused party movie rather than a thoughtful meditation on the persistent dangers faced by young women coerced (both by those they trust, and those they just met at Hooters) into performing sex work.


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