Sean Baker Shot a Secret Film with ‘Waves,’ ‘Euphoria’ DP as His ‘Florida Project’ Follow-Up

"Red Rocket" pairs Baker with actor Simon Rex and "Waves" cinematographer Drew Daniels.
"The Florida Project"
"The Florida Project"

Update (February 10, 2021): The following synopsis for “Red Rocket” has been provided from Deadline: “‘Red Rocket’ is a darkly comedic film about Mikey Saber, a 39-year old “suitcase pimp.” That is the kind of pimp who lives off of women in the adult film industry. Finding himself down and out in Los Angeles, Mikey decides to crawl back to his hometown of Texas City, Texas, where his estranged wife and mother-in-law are living. Just as this dysfunctional family seems to be making things work, Mikey meets a young woman named Strawberry working the cash register at a local doughnut shop. He falls right back into his old habits.”

Earlier: Sean Baker is nearing completion on “Red Rocket,” a dark comedy he’s been shooting in secret in Texas. Variety first reported the news, adding that production on “Red Rocket” will finish before the end of the month. Plot details for the movie are being kept under wraps. “Red Rocket” stars “Scary Movie” franchise veteran Simon Rex. Additional cast members are not known at this time. Baker often works with non-actors, so it wouldn’t be surprising to hear the cast is made up largely of unknown talents.

Baker was last in theaters with “The Florida Project,” which debuted to rapturous acclaim in the Directors Fortnight sidebar of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. A24 released “The Florida Project” in the U.S. to a $5.9 million gross. The indie ended its run globally with $11 million. At the Oscars, “The Florida Project” picked up a nomination for Best Supporting Actor thanks to Willem Dafoe’s performance.

Per Variety, “Red Rocket” was “independently financed and will be looking for distribution.” Baker wrote the script with his frequent collaborator Chris Bergoch, who served as co-writer on “The Florida Project,” “Tangerine” and “Starlet.” Baker also serves as producer alongside Alex Coco, Samantha Quan, Alex Saks, and Shih-Ching Tsou.

In perhaps the most exciting bit of information revealed about the project, Baker hired rising cinematographer Drew Daniels to help him shoot “Red Rocket.” Daniels earned acclaim recently for serving as DP on Trey Edward Shults’ “Waves,” a fellow A24 release. Daniels and Shults also worked together on “Krisha” and “It Comes At Night.” The cinematographer’s additional credits include “Arizona,” “The Boy from Medellin,” and two episodes of HBO’s Emmy-winning series “Euphoria.”

Variety reports: “Work on ‘Red Rocket’ commenced as Hollywood and the independent film community that Baker belongs to are trying to find a way to make movies safely during coronavirus. The film has employed industry standard safety protocols.”

In his A- review of “The Florida Project” out of Cannes 2017, IndieWire’s chief critic Eric Kohn hailed Baker as “one of the most innovative American directors working today” and “an essential advocate for the stories this country often doesn’t get to see,” which means “Red Rocket” is one of the most anticipated indies in the pipeline.

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