Director April Maxey talks about her Sundance short, Work

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Image source: Andrea Dosouto

April Maxey uses her story to break the stigma that pervades sex work. Presented this year at the Sundance Film Festival, Job tells the story of Gabi (Marisela Zumbado), a queer Latina freelance writer who impulsively returns to her old job at a lap-dancing saloon to try to recover from a bad breakup. It is there that she reconnects with a friend from her past and ends up finding herself.

“I always wanted to tell a story about this chapter of my life.”

Since the 13-minute film is based on Maxey’s own experience, the director didn’t have to look far for inspiration. “I had always wanted to tell a story about that chapter of my life where I was dancing and came back after a breakup. I was in that transitional chapter of my life where I had moved on and had to start over,” Maxey tells POPSUGAR. “And then during the pandemic, I went through another breakup and I found it really important to me to have time alone. I was just doing a lot of thinking.”

Maxey ended up rewriting the script to reflect the emotions she went through during the pandemic. His goal was to make a film about “the process of letting go of a past version of yourself and telling that messy, nuanced, complicated journey of what it looks like to move on.” She adds: “The underlying idea is that it’s good to be in solitude, to work on yourself and to find yourself. You can find moments of peace there.” These feelings of peace and hope are evident as the film progresses, but especially so in the final scene where we see Gabi looking up at the sky just as the sun begins to shine. “It’s not meant to be a sad ending,” Maxey explains. “I hope people will feel a little uplifted by this, and maybe people will have more compassion for women who have different experiences from theirs.”


Image source: Melinda James

The story of embarking on a journey of self-discovery after a breakup is a story as old as time, but Job stands out by illuminating the world of underground dance parties. Without any judgment, it shows how sex work is like any other job and the characters are people who have problems like everyone else. “There’s a lot of stigma around sex work and stripping and dancing and stuff like that. There’s a lot of shame around it. And I don’t think there should be any.” , says Maxey. “Yes [viewers] are able to follow [Gabi] and her journey and understanding her, I hope it challenges people’s beliefs.”

“The underlying idea is that it’s good to be in solitude, to work on yourself and to find yourself.”

Maxey has already started working on the long version of the short, but she’s curious to hear people’s opinions on where Gabi’s story is going next. Should Gabi commit to another relationship now that she’s found herself? Or is she better off alone? Personally, Maxey would like to see her single for a while. “She’s going to prioritize herself and try to find what satisfies her, and focus on that. It might be a complicated journey, two steps forward and one step back, but it’s very human,” notes Maxey, adding, “Maybe she’ll go on a dating app and be like, ‘No, I’m fine.'”

In addition to the feature film, Maxey wants to continue telling stories. “I really want to have more opportunities to achieve this year because I feel like I could always build that muscle. I feel like I’m still learning,” Maxey said. “I want to do a queer horror movie. He called me!”

Regardless of what Maxey does next, she’s definitely one to watch.

Job is currently screening at this year’s Sundance Film Festival through January 30.

April Maxey aims to break the stigma of sex work with her Sundance film originally released on POPSUGAR Entertainment News

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