×

Sundance Premieres Sophisticated ‘Tangerine,’ Shot on iPhone 5s 

One of the big surprises of day two at the Sundance Film Festival was Sean Baker’s “Tangerine.” The “Starlet” director stunned a packed crowd at the premiere on Friday night when he revealed that he shot his low-budget movie entirely on the iPhone 5s.

Baker held up one of the phones, which he joked he’d stolen from the production. He said he used three iPhones to complete the dramatic comedy, about two transgendered hookers (Kiki Kitana Rodriguez and Mya Taylor) who roam through the streets of Los Angeles. The film was shot in about a month.

“We came across two things that elevated the look,” Baker said. He used a Moondog Labs anamorphic lens and an app called Filmic Pro to get the film’s grainy and sophisticated look.

Baker found his leads, who had no previous acting experience, at the LGBTQ center near where he lives in Los Angeles.

Taylor said she helped brainstorm ideas for the arc of her character. “I met Sean very early on into my transition,” Taylor said. “Looking at the film, it’s very special to me. That’s what I looked like then and how I look like now. Actually it exceeded expectations.”

The film was produced by Mark and Jay Duplass, who are the MVPs of Sundance this year (they also worked on “The Bronze,” “The Overnight,” the TV series “Animals” and Friday announced a four-picture deal with Netflix).

“When Sean came to me with this movie, I was so excited, I said I’m going to pay for this whole thing,” Mark Duplass recalled. “What he didn’t know is, I didn’t have money to pay for it.” The film was financed by Through Films, owned by Marcus and Karrie Cox.

“These movies do not get made in the studio system,” Duplass said. “Thank you guys.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Samara Weaving and Adam Brody Big

    'Ready or Not': That Time Samara Weaving Hit Andie MacDowell in the Face

    Samara Weaving didn’t mean to hurt Andie MacDowell, but she did just that while they were rehearsing for their new horror dark comedy “Ready or Not.” “I hit Andie MacDowell in the face by accident,” Weaving says on this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “It was horrible. It was [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

  • Soul Movie

    Pixar's 'Soul' Announces Voice Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey to Star

    Disney debuted a first look at upcoming Pixar film “Soul” at the D23 expo in Anaheim, Calif. and announced its star-studded voice cast. “Soul” imagines that every person on earth comes pre-installed with a soul formed and perfected in a cosmic realm. Jamie Foxx will play a middle-school music teacher on earth who dreams of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content