As is often the case with Sean Baker’s films, the story of how “The Florida Project” came to be is almost as moving as the story told onscreen. Take its star, for instance: Bria Vinaite was found by Baker on Instagram, flown from Brooklyn to Orlando for an audition, and cast in one the most well-received movies of the year. She’s been making the festival rounds since “The Florida Project” premiered at Cannes in May, just one of many new experiences she never thought she’d have.
“I feel like I’m not a traditional person,” she said to Eric Kohn during the inaugural IndieWire Honors ceremony last week, “so I really appreciate the fact that Sean is so outside-the-box and does things in an unconventional way…you don’t need to do things in the typical way to get a beautiful result.”
As a first-time actor, Vinaite “was very scared and nervous. It was definitely such a learning experience — I took a lot of classes, and it was very challenging because it’s just not something I ever thought I would do.” She took three weeks of acting classes at the Magic Kingdom, the hotel where “The Florida Project” was filmed, and formed a close bond with the other performers.
Everything that’s happened since, she said, has been “such a dream. I still wake up every day and I can’t even believe everything that’s going on every day.”
Asked about her feelings on independent film as opposed to studio productions, Vinaite said that “I feel like it’s that much more special” because “everyone’s so invested. At least from what I saw with being on set is we just cared about it so much and it was literally like our baby — everyone, every single one of us.” Watch her full conversation below.
IndieWire Honors is presented by Vizio and DTS with premier support from Harold Ramis Film School at The Second City.