Video Services Corp.,
L.A. working girls “celebrate” Christmas
In a high-voltage, tender and funny film
A Film – shot entirely on smartphones – by Sean Baker
Opens in Toronto – July 10
Carlton Cinema, 20 Carlton St. – Presented by Trans*Pride Toronto
Opens in Vancouver – July 31
VanCity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St.
More Canadian cities to follow
2015 Sundance Film Festival
2015 Fantasia Film Festival
“The buzziest film of the summer.” – Paper Magazine
“Tangerine is a stimulating reminder of what indie filmmaking can do.” – Time Out New York
“…brash, energetic, and wildly entertaining.” – QueerTV
“Gorgeous. A perfectly cast, beautifully directed movie.” – The New York Times
“A visually innovative knockout. It grabs you from the first frame. Gritty and groundbreaking.” – Rolling Stone
“One of the most visceral, energetic and entertaining films of the year.” – Hitfix
A smart movie shot on smartphones for a completely-realized “street” feel, Sean S. Baker’s Tangerine was the talk of this year’s Sundance Film Festival – seen as proof that the future of moviemaking is in everyone’s hands.
But the movie – about the real, funny and achingly-emotional ties that bind two transgender L.A. prostitutes on one hyper-charged and dramatic Christmas Eve – is also a singularly unique vision.
Praised by Variety for the, “fierce energy (that) courses through every frame of this scrappy mosaic of Los Angeles street life,”Tangerine‘s story begins with the story of Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), just released from a short prison stint and eager to take up again with her pimp boyfriend Chester (James Ransone, “The Wire,” “Generation Kill,” “Treme”).
Her enthusiasm is short-lived, however, when her best friend (and fellow prostitute) Alexandra (Mya Taylor) reveals that Chester has been unfaithful during her 28 days away.
The news ignites Sin-Dee into hilariously unstoppable, street stomping fury. Bouncing from hangout-to-hangout and streetcorner-to-streetcorner in search of Chester – and later in search of Dinah (Mickey O’Hagan), “the bitch” in question – her travels reveal to the onlooker a network of characters that comprise a genuine community of outsiders.
Baker had recently befriended Mya Taylor, a local African-American transgender woman he met at the LGBTQ Center in Hollywood. “Mya was very familiar with the area and neighborhood, had vivid stories to share and also had a desire to act. She came from a performing arts background, so we knew at that point that we had found somebody we wanted to work with.” Said Taylor, “Sean was very sweet and he was very direct with what he wanted from me. That really attracted me to his project.”
The Los Angeles neighborhood where Mya lived is close to the intersection of Santa Monica and Highland, the backdrop for the developing story. Explained Baker, “it is notorious for some of its illegal activity, in particular prostitution and drug use. So my co-screenwriter Chris Bergoch and I decided that we wanted to explore that world and, like my other films, we knew there would be an extensive research process. We told Mark (Duplass) we wanted to make a personal film that took place in that area. He gave us the thumbs up.”
Baker, Bergoch, and Taylor dove into researching the criminal activity in their neighborhood, and ended up befriending a number of transgender prostitutes. It wasn’t long before the screenwriters began to put a story together – a story that locked into place when Taylor introduced them to her friend Kitana Kiki Rodriguez. The dynamic between the two women was extremely appealing to Baker. “Kiki was a trans mentor and a trans advocate and she was also very familiar with that area. Mya and Kiki had this camaraderie together.”
One of the most visually striking components of the film is its look, which is grainy yet also highly saturated, creating a sense of tension within the images. Though it may not be apparent upon first glance, Baker and Director of Photography Radium Cheung actually shot the film on iPhones. Baker explained that there were a number of factors that contributed to the decision.
“The iPhone 5S had recently come out with its better camera. So we started thinking about how the iPhone could help us. We realized it could be good for shooting with first-time actors because it wouldn’t intimidate them and the extras that we were grabbing off the street. It allowed us to shoot clandestinely. We were able to have a very small footprint. But I wanted to still make this film extremely cinematic, so we shot with anamorphic lenses. They were actually prototypes from a company called Moondog Labs, which provided us with prototype anamorphic adapters for the iPhone. Nobody else had shot like this. And then on top of that, I was treating the film quite heavily in post to really give it its own unique look.” Cheung was also a huge fan of the first-of-their-kind adapters. “They really were great for what we were doing, as they turn the phone camera into real anamorphic capturing devices. This gave the picture a much more classical film look. We were so lucky that the prototypes were made just in time and were available to us!”
Director/co-writer Sean Baker is best known for the indie films Take Out, Prince Of Broadway, and Starlet, the latter of which won a Robert Altman award at the Independent Spirit Awards and a Special Jury Award at SXSW. He is also one of the creators of the long running comedy television show entitled “Greg the Bunny” and its spin-off, “Warren the Ape.”
About Video Services Corp
Founded in 1993 by former rock critic Jonathan Gross, Video Services Corp. (VSC) is a leading independent all-platform film distributor with offices in Toronto and Los Angeles. VSC‘s DVD catalogue includes “Corner Gas,” Sharknado, Richard Lewis: Bundle of Nerves, and Don Cherry’s Rock’em Sock’em Hockey series. Recent theatrical releases include Frank, starring Michael Fassbender, Alan Partridge, starring Steve Coogan, Iranian vampire sensation A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Cannes Selection Life Itself, and instant cult classic What We Do In The Shadows. Upcoming releases include Experimenter, and Best of Enemies.