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The Florida Project premiered in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in May and went on to screen at Toronto and a multitude of other festivals. They go shopping for plastic jewelry that Halley seems to like as much as a kid would. For the first time, Baker uses a name actor, and it pays off beautifully. After struggling to find a Hollywood actress who met his vision of Halley, he literally slid into Vinaite's DMs and asked if she'd audition for the part. Just as he considered pushing back the start of production, six-year-old Brooklynn Prince came in to audition. Although a festival favourite, Starlet did not open all the doors Baker hoped it would. The rooms cost $38 a night (which, by the month, still isn’t all that cheap), and Halley struggles each week to come up with the rent, since she can’t seem to find herself a straight job and appears to be the world’s laziest stripper. Mostly, she hangs around, treating her daughter as a fellow delinquent, because she’s basically a child herself. Baker, riding on the success of “Tangerine,” has left the iPhone cam behind him. She saw this as her chance.”. “Maybe I just didn’t see enough of this in US film and TV.”. At $3m, The Florida Project represented a huge budgetary leap for writer-director Sean Baker and producer Kevin Chinoy. At that stage, however, the market had yet to see the potential in Baker and the luminously cinematic social-realist films he was making. You can see in Moonee, raised by a sexpot rebel who appears to be a bit of a raging sociopath, the early stages of a restless, acting-out personality, yet she’s vibrant — there’s a charisma to the way that as a child, she doesn’t hold back. June Pictures, the production and financing outfit run by former ICM agent Alex Saks and Andrew Duncan, a financier from the digital tech industry, agreed to fully finance the $3m film and gave Baker final cut. Dafoe was also awarded a best supporting actor prize by the National Board of Review. In a separate interview with Filmmaker Magazine Baker defined non-professional actors as people he'd pull off the street and ask to play in a scene. Its wish fulfillment is real, but momentary at best. "I always love to mix seasoned with first-timers and non-professionals," Baker told the Los Angeles Times. His last film, the indie hit Tangerine, was filmed entirely on an iPhone with a predominantly non-professional cast. “She was very enthusiastic, very motivated. Moonee comes on like a pint-size ballbuster, but she’s really just a sweet kid doing whatever it takes to please her mom. All rights reserved. We had to move scenes and get rid of some. Director Sean Baker is known for his documentary-like movies. It was about asking her questions from behind the camera, and playing with her and getting to that place. He had toyed with the idea of casting a famous actress or even a pop star but decided the role of Halley, a young single mother living with her six-year-old daughter Moonee in a crappy motel room, needed a fresh face. Finally, the script, co-written by Baker and Chris Bergoch, also made a push for realism by focusing specifically on the very real issue of the "hidden homeless." Brooklynn Prince is a real find, totally expressive but never too cute, and Bria Vinaite, the 23-year-old actress who plays Halley, has the snarling princess-gone-to-hell erotic vivacity that Riley Keough had in “American Honey.” “The Florida Project” at times suggests a more staid offshoot of that film, as if it were about just one of the characters, who had gone off and had a child but was still hustling — and fighting — the world. She said yes, healthy skepticism and all, and the rest, as they say, is history. US rights were sold to A24 Films, and London-based Protagonist Pictures took the rest of the world, selling it out at Cannes and then Toronto. The ice-cream drip scene? 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He writes, directs and edits so I’m not watching to make sure we’re getting proper coverage,” says Chinoy. “I knew she had a long way to go but there was enough,” he says. The misery a… He knew he would need a few million dollars to make The Florida Project: as well as all the research and location trips it required, he wanted to work with children and shoot on 35mm. Vinaite worked with Baker and acting coach and associate producer Samantha Quan for a month. So it's not surprising that viewers might assume that his newest film The Florida Project is a documentary. The kingdom of fantasy never looked so desperately real. She had the capability. Willem Dafoe plays Bobby, the manager of the motel, whose job requires him to be a handyman, an office grind, a den mother, a father figure, and a law enforcer all at the same time. Lee’s Netflix-backed Da 5 Bloods had been due to premiere Out of Competition. But two calls in, and Baker still hadn’t found his Moonee. I don’t ask for directors to make my life easy. It’s no big surprise when she gets into trouble; that, in essence, is what she’s been raised to do. Dafoe plays him as a gruff hardhead who is also a nice guy.

Baker directed Snowbird, a promo film for fashion brand Kenzo on which he found his Florida Project cinematographer in Alexis Zabe, whose feature credits include Carlos Reygadas’s Silent Light. The movie takes place over the course of a summer, when Moonee has nothing to do but drift around with the other local kids, like her pal Scooty (Christopher Rivera).

Baker recounted in an interview with Variety. "I kept going back to her page saying, 'You know, I wish we could find somebody in Hollywood like this.' The rest of the players, however, are relatively unknown. He had just finished Starlet, his 2012 charmer about the unlikely friendship between a young actress and an elderly woman in California’s San Fernando Valley. That it's not true shouldn't shock you; that it might as well be should. And though it sounds an awful lot like your next true life obsession, The Florida Project isn't a documentary.

“Within seconds she won us over,” says Baker. "I didn't know this even was an issue in the United States," Bergoch told Deadline, adding that he thought it would make the perfect backdrop for a movie about children. This one, too, discovers its story in the desperation of people who live on the dysfunctional fringes. Key awards nominations so far include best feature and best director nods at the Independent Spirits and wins for Baker and Dafoe from the New York Film Critics Circle. A change in Halley’s storyline during shooting also necessitated considerable alterations to the schedule, which Chinoy says the production took in its stride. “I saw the potential in a narrative fiction film taking place in that world.”. “All the news stories focused on the juxtaposition we ended up focusing on — children growing up in budget motels just outside the place we consider the happiest and the most magical place on earth for children,” Baker explains. But it also lacks the catchiness of arcs. "Sean is taking real life and turning in such a beautiful story that also gives it a lot of attention," Vinaite said in an interview with Mashable. That whole scene is very scripted until the last moment where Willem’s character says, ‘Thank you very much,’ and she says, ‘You’re not welcome.’”. He knew he would need a few million dollars to make The Florida Project: as well as all the research and location trips it required, he wanted to work with children and shoot on 35mm. Baker, who co-wrote the film with Chris Bergoch (his co-writer on “Tangerine”), sets “The Florida Project” mostly in and around the motel, finding drama in its nooks and crannies, and what happens isn’t burdened by false arcs. Even though The Florida Project is not a documentary, it hopes to bring light to the issue of poverty and homelessness by telling a realistic story as authentically as possible.

Not to be confused with first-timers like Florida Project co-star Bria Vinaite, who Baker found on Instagram. The short films were about a ragtag bunch of mischievous children in the 1920s and 1930s during the Great Depression in the US. When it came to casting Moonee and her friends, Jancy and Scooty — Baker and Bergoch ensured all the characters’ names end with an ‘e’ or a ‘y’ — the director wanted to recreate the naturalistic spirit of Hal Roach’s Our Gang series of ‘Little Rascals’. At the end of 2015, the production cranked up a gear. Sean Baker has ditched the iPhone camera, but his follow-up to 'Tangerine' is another vibrant tale of the American lower depths, this one rooted in the magic and heartbreak of childhood. But a fresh, new cast isn't the only thing that gives The Florida Project it's natural, documentary feel. Those things are difficult but it was the right choice and we all knew it, so we just rolled up our sleeves and got it done.”. After reaching Vinaite through direct messaging and convincing her that he was for real, Baker flew her down to Florida to meet the team. "I thought this would [be] an interesting opportunity to take that [idea], make an entertaining film, but deliver a message with it." It’s rooted in that transcendent moment of childhood where almost anything you encounter — a field of weeds, an abandoned house — is tinged with wonder. Haley Elizabeth Anderson’s Pillars among short film winners. Unlike Tangerine, The Florida Project was filmed using actual cameras — on 35 mm film, to be precise — but the authentic quality of Baker's filmmaking still holds. She’s also a scammer and a thief, but the more indefensible her behavior, the more “The Florida Project” turn into a true tale of the lower depths. This site uses cookies. Baker stumbled upon her Instagram page — @chronicflowers — and liked her style. The movie, out Oct. 6, follows one summer in the life of 6-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince), a little girl living with her mother in a motel just a little ways away from Disney World in Orlando, Florida. 2020 Bustle Digital Group. And eventually somebody just said, 'Well why don't we just ask Bria?'" Halley, by any respectable standard, is a terrible mother, yet in one way she’s a good mother: She gives Moonee a great deal of smiling love.

We want to tell good stories. The walls are lavender, the doors to the rooms are dark purple, and the whole place looks clean and bright and spangly, considering that it’s basically a flophouse for people who can’t afford to live anywhere else. He did a little bit of street casting himself and found Valeria Cotto (Jancy) in a local Target store, while Christopher Rivera (Scooty) came from a local casting call. "For the longest time I thought it was like a joke, like someone was playing a sick joke on me," Vinaite told Variety. “When Sean significantly changed Halley’s arc, it caused us to restructure the movie. Best known for playing the Green Goblin in Spider-Man (2002), Dafoe is an immediately recognizable actor and not the motel manager he plays in The Florida Project. "Sometimes they went off on something different, which was fine with me, as long as I was capturing the truth of the kids acting as naturally as possible.". It told the story of a transgender prostitute and several other L.A. drama-queen wastrels, and the small miracle of the movie is that it wasn’t just visually accomplished. Subscribe now for monthly editions, awards season weeklies, access to the Screen International archive and supplements including Stars of Tomorrow and World of Locations. It was the first film appearance for many of the cast. But to reach those heights and give the emotional performance [she does in the film], I didn’t know she was going to be able to do that.”, Baker normally encourages his cast to improvise but realised the children had a tendency to take it off the rails.

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