READ MORE: Sundance Review: ‘Tangerine’ is a Charming Buddy Comedy About Transgender Prostitutes in L.A.
In preparation for the theatrical release of “Tangerine” this Friday, writer-director Sean Baker joined stars Mya Taylor and James Ransone for a Reddit AMA to discuss their Sundance Film Festival hit. The micro-budget film follows prostitutes Sin-Dee and Alexandra on a mission to find Sin-Dee’s pimp boyfriend, who is rumored to have cheated on her while she was in jail. Intriguingly, the film was shot by Baker entirely on an iPhone 5s.
Here are some of the highlights from the AMA:
How is “Tangerine” different from the other movies that have been made about transgender people? What more does this film have to offer to the audience?
Baker: “Well, our two leads are transgender, which we believe is pretty different, but also our approach leans more towards comedy. There is another film entitled “Wild Side” from France in 2004 that did this. It was really Mya Taylor that helped us to shed light on this. She wanted the humor that girls use to cope to be infused into the style of the film.”
Taylor: “Well, I haven’t seen any other movies by transgender people. And…NOTHING! Just kidding. It gives the audience continuous laughter.”
Did you set out to make a movie about trans people from the get-go?
Baker: “To a certain degree. It was about an intersection in Los Angeles that is frequented by transgender sex workers.”
Ransone: “No. We set out to make a movie about friendship and infidelity that took place in a very real location in Los Angeles.”
What was your process for choosing the musical cues/songs used throughout the film?
Baker: “[It] all came from Soundcloud. [We] reached out directly to artists. Wolftyla was [a] major influence.”
Ransone: “It was curated by using Vine, to which we found the artists and reached out to them directly.”
How loose and improvisational was the shooting, and how much of what we saw was scripted?
Ransone: “A lot was scripted, but then we were free to improvise. Kiki and Mya provided a ton of real life anecdotes that ended up in the movie. However, the Donut Time scene was heavily scripted because Sean doesn’t speak Armenian.”
Baker: “There was a scripment… half a script, half a treatment. [It] depended on the scene [and] whether or not it was improvised. For example, [the] Santa Monica walk was pretty improvised while Donut Time was totally scripted with a few improvised lines.”
Can you discuss how the Duplass brothers got involved and how much, if any influence they had in the project?
Baker: “Basically, the brothers saw one of my previous films, ‘Prince of Broadway,’ and really liked it. [They] told me that offer was on the table to make another micro-budget if I ever wanted to. I took them up on the offer after I couldn’t find financing for a much bigger film. They basically were hands off. [They] gave notes after seeing [the] first cut which were very helpful. They rule.”
Mya, what would be your dream movie role? And who would you like to star in that dream movie with?
Taylor: “My dream movie role would be…ummm….in a scary movie! I know that Robin Thicke isn’t an actor but I would love for him to star in it with me. Because he’s hot.”