"The A-story of 'Starlet,'" says director Sean Baker, "is inspired by a true event that happened to a friend of my father. A large sum of money was found at a yard sale and my father's friend faced a moral dilemma about whether or not to keep it." In the film, Baker has replaced his father's friend with 21-year-old aspiring actress Jane, who develops an unlikely but revealing relationship with a caustic older woman after a confrontation at a yard sale.
How does "Starlet" fit in with your other work?
"This is my 4th feature film and the one I am most proud of. It has similarities to the last two films ('Take Out' and 'Prince of Broadway') in tone although stylistically I think it is a departure.
What difficulties did you face during production?
"Money and time are always the two biggest challenges in making a low-budget film. Never enough money and because of that people end up wearing many hats. And there is never enough time to get things done when you're spread thin. But eventually it works itself out."
What should audiences take away from this film?
"I want my audience to either love or hate my film. Indifference toward it would mean that I didn't do my job. But I am also hoping that audiences will be as taken by my cast as I am."
Anything in the pipeline?
"Going to make another NYC film.. this time taking place in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn."
Check out the trailer for "Starlet" here
Indiewire invited AFI FEST competition directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival. Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.