The Florida Project, a slice of life drama film directed by Sean Baker, follows the daily life of six-year-old girl Moonee living with her rebellious single mother in a motel in Florida.
Repeatedly fending off what seems like impending homelessness, Moonee’s mother Halley battles with the manager of the Magic Castle motel amid losing her job as an exotic dancer. Needing money for food and motel bills, Halley begins soliciting sex work online after she was refused government benefits for needy families.
The story, written by Baker and Chris Bergoch, tzars the likes of Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite and more as they tap into a theme that affects a countless amount young families struggling to make ends meet in their daily lives. The decision to compound the misery of their struggling life was contrasted with nearby Walt Disney World which loomed over the motel in view of the mischievous children as they play among abandoned Florida buildings.
The film, which was released to critical acclaim following its premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, was shot on 35mm film and entirely on location in Osceola County, Florida.
The entire project was forward-thinking, the child actors were allowed freedom to express themselves on set and, astonishingly, Baker filmed decided to the final scene at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park in secret, using an iPhone 6S Plus illicitly without Disney’s knowledge.
“We’ve been watching Moonee use her imagination and wonderment throughout the entire film to make the best of the situation she’s in,” Baker once explained after decided to clandestinely film in Disney World. “She can’t go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, so she goes to the ‘safari’ behind the motel and looks at cows; she goes to the abandoned condos because she can’t go to the Haunted Mansion. And in the end, with this inevitable drama, this is me saying to the audience, ‘If you want a happy ending, you’re gonna have to go to that headspace of a kid because, here, that’s the only way to achieve it,” he added.
Far Out reached out to Florida Project cameraman Harryson Thevenin who shot some behind-the-scenes photos on set. Below, enjoy the filming in action.