The Last Word With TANGERINE Director Sean Baker

The director of the brilliant Sundance hit - following two transgender leads and filmed on an iPhone - talks to us about his film-watching history.

Q: What is your earliest movie memory?

A: According to my parents, the first film I ever saw was a Disney film, however my earliest memory of watching a film was in first grade. My mother took me to the local library where they were screening classic scenes from the Universal Monster films on 16mm. I remember there being scenes from The Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon and Dracula.

But the one that had a major impact on me was the climactic burning mill scene from James Whale's Frankenstein. I was in awe and, from that moment, I knew I wanted to make movies.

Q: What was the first movie you saw that made you understand that movies can be art?

A: That's a difficult one. I probably recognized films as creative visions from a very early age without ever applying the word "art" to them until my college years. I do however remember being conscious and intrigued by the directing style of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. That film had more of an impact on me than Star Wars.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure movie?

A: Beverly Hills Chihuahua. It's actually only one scene from it -- When Papi gazes off into the night sky as Enrique Iglesias' Hero plays. Brings a tear to my eye.

Q: What movie do you want to make before you die?

A: I just want to make another movie. In 2015, with the state of the industry being what it is, a filmmaker is lucky just to be able to keep working.

Q: What was your most magical cinema experience?

A: Anytime I've shed a tear in a cinema... Lars Von Trier's The Idiots. Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude. Lukas Moodysson's Together and a handful of others.

Q: What is the one movie you believe everyone should see?

A: Lar Von Trier's The Idiots.

Q: Only one of your movies can continue to exist after you're gone -- which one is it?

A: I'm still not satisfied enough with any of my films to be the permanent representation of my work. Hopefully my next.

Q: If you weren't born to direct, what else would you be doing?

A: A barista. Seriously, making a decent latte is my only other skill.

Q: Why do you make movies?

A: To attempt to create a film that gives me the feeling of awe I felt when I was 6 years old, watching that climactic scene from Frankenstein.

Unfortunately, it's a doomed mission. I understand the mechanics of filmmaking and will never be able to suspend disbelief with my own films.

This was originally published in the July issue of Birth.Movies.Death. magazine. See Tangerine at the Alamo Drafthouse this month

 

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