Isolation Spotlight: Sean Baker
To kick-off our series of potential lockdown viewing, Francesca Sylph suggests watching the filmography of Sean Baker
Sean Baker is best known for his low-budget, independent films with bright colours and heart-warming stories about human connection.
Starlet explores the unlikely friendship between 21-year old Jane, an adult film star, and 85-year old widowed and cynical Sadie after Jane finds a hidden stash of money inside a thermos at Sadie’s yard sale. Tangerine follows transgender sex worker, Sin-Dee Rella, who discovers her pimp boyfriend has not been faithful to her during the 28 days she was locked up. Set entirely over the course of one day (which happens to be Christmas Eve), Sin-Dee and her best friend, Alexandra, embark on a quest to get to the bottom of this scandalous rumour. Shot only using iPhone 5S cameras, Baker received praise for his innovative and ground-breaking filmmaking techniques.
Throughout his filmography, there is a feeling of humility and authenticity, which is reinforced through his unconventional filming techniques and frequent use of non-actors
Baker’s most recent film, The Florida Project, tells the story of 6-year-old Moonee and her ragtag group of friends whose summer is filled with childhood wonder and optimism, while the adults around them struggle. Willem Dafoe is completely transformative as Bobby, the strict but affectionate and protective motel manager. The struggles of Moonee and her single mother are contrasted with nearby Disney World, supposedly the happiest place on earth. Again, Baker explores sex work in a very non-judgemental and refreshing way.
Throughout his filmography, there is a feeling of humility and authenticity, which is reinforced through his unconventional filming techniques and frequent use of non-actors. Location plays an important role in his films. Baker gives locations the same importance and significance as characters. Tangerine is not a film about Southern California, but the corner of Santa Monica and Highland. The Florida Project is not about Orlando, but the very specific location of Route 192. For Baker, locations have personality and they have the ability to truly immerse the viewer in a world. If you are looking to escape the chaos of our world, look no further.