Sean Baker (filmmaker)

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Sean Baker
Sean Baker (7774638458) (cropped).jpg
Baker in August 2012
Born (1971-02-26) February 26, 1971 (age 50)
NationalityAmerican
Alma materNew York University
OccupationFilmmaker
Years active2000–present

Sean Baker (born February 26, 1971) is an American film director, cinematographer, producer, screenwriter and editor. He is best known for the independent feature films Starlet, Tangerine, and The Florida Project, as well as his involvement in the Fox/IFC puppet sitcom Greg the Bunny and its spin-offs.

Early life and education[edit]

Baker was born and raised in Summit, New Jersey.[1] He has a sister who is a professional synth-pop musician and production designer who has contributed to his films in both capacities.[2][3][4] He graduated from Gill St. Bernard's High School in 1989.[5] He received his B.A. in film studies from New York University through the Tisch School of the Arts.[6] Prior to NYU, he studied non-linear editing at The New School in Greenwich Village.[7]

Career[edit]

Baker's first feature film was Four Letter Words, a film revolving around the looks, views, attitudes and language of young men in America. Baker wrote, directed, and edited the film.[8] Baker then went on to make Take Out, which he co-wrote, co-directed, co-edited, and co-produced with Shih-Ching Tsou.[9] The film revolves around an illegal Chinese immigrant falling behind on payments on a smuggling debt, leaving him only one day to come up with the money.[10] The film had its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival on January 18, 2004, but was not given a limited release until June 6, 2008.[10] Baker's third feature film, Prince of Broadway, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 22, 2008.[11] The film follows a New York street hustler who makes his living creating name-brand knock offs, and his discovery that he has a son. Baker directed, wrote, co-produced, shot and edited the film, which was given a limited release on September 3, 2010.[12] Take Out and Prince of Broadway were nominated for the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award at the same ceremony in 2008.[13]

Baker's fourth feature, Starlet, was co-written with Chris Bergoch, and stars Dree Hemingway and Besedka Johnson. Starlet explores the unlikely friendship between 21-year-old Jane (Hemingway) and 85-year-old Sadie (Johnson), two women whose lives intersect in California's San Fernando Valley. The film had its world premiere at SXSW on March 11, 2012,[14] and was given a limited release on November 9, 2012. It opened to mainly positive reviews and holds an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[15][16]

Baker's fifth feature, Tangerine, follows a transgender sex worker who discovers her boyfriend and pimp has been cheating on her. The film was shot using three iPhone 5S smartphones and received praise for its groundbreaking filmmaking techniques.[17] Tangerine features Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian, Mickey O'Hagan, and James Ransone, and was executive-produced by Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass. Baker again co-wrote the script with Bergoch; he also co-produced, co-shot, and edited the film. It had its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2015,[18] and was given a limited release on July 10, 2015.[19] It received extremely positive reviews, and currently holds a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[20]

Baker's sixth feature, The Florida Project, premiered in the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival,[21] and was theatrically released in the United States on October 6, 2017, by A24. Once again, Baker edited the film himself and co-wrote the script with his frequent collaborator Chris Bergoch. The plot follows a 6-year-old girl living in a motel with her rebellious mother in Greater Orlando as they try to stay out of trouble and make ends meet. The film was praised for its performances (particularly that of Willem Dafoe as the motel manager) and Baker's direction, and was chosen by both the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute as one of the top 10 films of the year.[22][23] Dafoe earned Best Supporting Actor nominations at the Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards.[24][25][26][27]

In October 2018, Baker was the head of the film jury at the Mumbai International Film Festival.[28]

In August 2020, actress Bella Thorne announced that Baker would be directing a documentary about her experiences opening an OnlyFans account, but Baker quickly denied the rumor as Thorne's suspicious behavior was blamed for restrictions affecting all sex workers on the site.[29][30][31]

I am an ally and have literally devoted my career to tell stories that remove stigma and normalize lifestyles that are under attack. I would never do anything that could possibly hurt the community.

— Sean Baker, Los Angeles Times, Aug 28, 2020

In November 2020, it was announced that production on Baker's seventh feature film was almost finished. Red Rocket will star Simon Rex and is set in Texas. Baker directed, co-wrote and co-produced the film with his usual team of Bergoch and Tsou among others. Filming took place in secret amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but "industry-standard safety protocols" were observed. Plot details continue to be kept secret.[32]

In March 2021, Baker released short film Khaite FW21 produced for fashion line Khaite to promote it's Fall/Winter 2021 lineup. Sean Price Williams served as cinematographer.[33][34][35]

Baker is also one of the original creators of the sitcom Greg the Bunny, starring Seth Green and Eugene Levy. The show is based on a series of short segments that Baker directed and wrote, which aired on the Independent Film Channel and which were in turn based on a public-access television show called Junktape. In 2010, Baker, Spencer Chinoy, and Dan Milano created a spinoff called Warren the Ape; the series aired on MTV and was canceled after one season.[36]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Producer Editor Notes
2000 Four Letter Words Yes Yes No Yes
2004 Take Out Yes Yes Yes Yes
2008 Prince of Broadway Yes Yes Yes Yes Also cinematographer
2012 Starlet Yes Yes Yes Yes
2015 Tangerine Yes Yes Yes Yes Also cinematographer
2016 Snowbird Yes Yes Yes Yes Short
2017 The Florida Project Yes Yes Yes Yes
2021 Khaite FW21 Yes Un­known Un­known Yes Short
TBA Red Rocket Yes Yes Yes Un­known Post-production

Television[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Producer Creator Role
2002–2006 Greg the Bunny Yes Yes No Yes Also editor and cinematographer
2010 Warren the Ape Yes Yes Yes Yes

Accolades[edit]

In 2012, Baker, along with the casting director and ensemble cast members of Starlet, was given the Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award.[37]

In 2017, Baker was awarded Best Director trophies by the Detroit Film Critics Society[38] and the New York Film Critics Circle[39] as well as Director of the Year by the London Film Critics' Circle.[40]

In 2018, John Waters presented the director with the Filmmaker on the Edge Award at the Provincetown International Film Festival.[41]

He has also been nominated for two Satellite Awards, two Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director and three Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Awards.[42][43][44]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitty, Stephen. "NYFCC awards go to Saoirse Ronan, 'Girls Trip,' NJ director", Inside Jersey, November 30, 2017. Accessed June 26, 2018. "And Summit native Sean Baker's heartbreaking The Florida Project, about a struggling single mother and her amazingly resilient daughter, was not far behind, with a best director award for Baker and a best supporting actor prize for Willem Dafoe."
  2. ^ Grobar, Matt (2018-01-01). "'The Florida Project' Production Designer On Tracking Down Dreamy Pastel-Colored Locations For Dark Fairy Tale". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  3. ^ "MNDR Give Living Days' 'Thrill Anybody?' a Crisp Facelift". Spin. 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  4. ^ "Stephonik Youth". IMDb. Retrieved 2020-01-16.
  5. ^ "GSB Alumni Magazine: Winter 2016". Issuu. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  6. ^ Mikel, Ryan (2018-03-05). "Sean Baker: "The Florida Project"". Washington Square News. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  7. ^ "Sean Baker Tells Students There's 'No Set Formula' for Filmmaking | The New School". www.newschool.edu. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  8. ^ "Tangerine Director Sean Baker Talks Monster Flicks". Pasunature.com. July 16, 2015. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  9. ^ Indiewire; Indiewire (2009-02-19). "Spirit Awards '09: "Take Out" Director Shih-Ching Tsou". IndieWire. Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  10. ^ a b Indiewire.com (June 3, 2008). "indieWIRE INTERVIEW | "Take Out" Co-director Sean Baker". Indiewire.com. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  11. ^ Juarez, Vanessa (June 25, 2008). "L.A. Film Festival: 'Prince of Broadway'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  12. ^ "Prince of Broadway". Fandango. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  13. ^ "Spirit Award nominees announced | Variety". 2016-03-04. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  14. ^ "Starlet". SXSW.com. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  15. ^ "Starlet". MusicBoxFilms.com. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  16. ^ "Starlet (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  17. ^ "Beyond using progressive filming techniques and casting, Tangerine is expressive and warm". Nashville Scene, By Jason Shawhan
  18. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (January 23, 2015). "Sophisticated 'Tangerine,' Shot on iPhone 5s". Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  19. ^ "Tangerine". Apple Trailers. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  20. ^ "Tangerine (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  21. ^ "Tisch Alumni Win Cannes Honors". NYU.edu. Jun 2, 2017. Archived from the original on 29 April 2018.
  22. ^ "AFI Awards 2017". AFI. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  23. ^ "National Board of Review Announces 2017 Award Winners". National Board of Review. November 28, 2017. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  24. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (December 11, 2017). "Golden Globe Nominations: Complete List". Variety. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  25. ^ "The Shape of Water leads Bafta nominations". BBC News. January 9, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  26. ^ 2018|Oscars.org
  27. ^ Sam Rockwell wins Best Supporting Actor-Oscars on YouTube
  28. ^ Rahman, Abid (2018-10-30). "Mumbai: Jury Head Sean Baker on Indian Cinema, the Demise of Filmstruck and His New Opioid Film". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2021-10-31. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  29. ^ Raup, Jordan (2020-08-20). "Update: Sean Baker Isn't Directing a Documentary About Bella Thorne's Experience on OnlyFans". The Film Stage. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  30. ^ "Director Sean Baker says he is not making an OnlyFans film with Bella Thorne". news.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  31. ^ Noor, Poppy (2020-08-31). "A Thorne in the site: the Bella Thorne and OnlyFans controversy explained". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  32. ^ Lang, Brent (2020-11-10). "'Florida Project' Director Sean Baker Shooting Secret Movie With Simon Rex (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2020-12-31.
  33. ^ Raup, Jordan (2021-03-01). "Watch Sean Baker's New Short Film for Khaite, Shot by Sean Price Williams". The Film Stage. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  34. ^ White, Armond (2021-03-10). "Khaite FW21 — Sean Baker's Fashion Week Faux Pas". National Review. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  35. ^ Macaulay, Scott. "Watch: Sean Baker's Short Film for Khaite's Fall '21 Collection". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  36. ^ "Why was the warren the ape show canceled". Chacha.com. Archived from the original on November 22, 2015. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  37. ^ "WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR 2013 SPIRIT AWARDS". Film Independent. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  38. ^ "Detroit Film Critics Society honors 'Florida Project'". AP NEWS. 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  39. ^ "'Lady Bird' Named Best Picture by New York Film Critics Circle | Hollywood Reporter". www.hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  40. ^ "Three Billboards Is Triumphant At The London Film Critics Circle Awards". Empire. 2018-01-28. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  41. ^ "Sean Baker and Molly Shannon Honored at Provincetown Film Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  42. ^ Erbland, Kate (2016-02-27). "Full List of All 2016 Film Independent Spirit Award Winners". IndieWire. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  43. ^ "2017 Winners | International Press Academy". Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  44. ^ Nyren, Erin (2018-03-03). "2018 Independent Spirit Awards: Winners List (Updating Live)". Variety. Retrieved 2020-12-29.

External links[edit]