A Magic Kingdom on 35mm: The Cinematography of The Florida Project

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The Florida Project took our breath away. . Everyone has been 6 years old once, dealing with boredom and letting their imagination run free. Director and Writer Sean Baker takes us away from reality and into the world of 6 year old Moonee played by Brooklyn Prince as she and her friends make the most of their summer. Shot primarily on 35mm film by Director of Photography Alexis Zabe. The film's dreamy and etherial quality can only be done on analog.

Photo Courtesy of A24

Coming from impoverished families living out of motels, Moonee and her friends go on adventures of mischief and whimsy. Using every ounce of creativity in their minds to pull pranks on neighboring motels, abandoned properties and of course consuming soft serve down to its last drop. Between Sean Baker's writing and Director of Photography, Alexis Zabe's, "The Florida Project" is a lightning bolt of energy just like the children in the film.

Photo Courtesy of A24

Working with bright colors and the burning hot sun of Orlando, Florida. Alexis Zabe creates the essence of summer in an "Alice in Wonderland"-esque world. In an article by Deadline, Zabe describes the lighting of the film

"I love working with natural light and because of circumstances of this film, it was possible to do so. It was convenient to do so, and probably even necessary to do so because we really didn’t have the time to work any other way. It gives that neo-realist feel to the movie. Then, using colors and wardrobe, the color palette could take it up to that fantastic, more imaginary child’s point-of-view"
Photo by Marc Schmidt Courtesy of A24

Shot primarily on 35mm film, there's a certain nostalgic almost hazy quality to the film that I believe analog provides. From the same article, Zabe describes how he chose the camera and lens for the film as

"...it’s really a 21st century film, in that we tried to use the right tools for the right scenes at all times. We did have a premise that we wanted to shoot this film on 35[mm], and we mostly did. 90% of the film is 35mm analog negative, which gives it that organic feel."
Photo Courtesy of A24

There seems to be a great separation between the adult world and the child world of the film. Moonee's mom Halley played by Bria Vinaite acts very childish alongside her friends and daughter. Yelling at the motel manager and at her fellow friends like she's having a temper tantrum. She's shot from above, almost like the camera is looking down on her while the children and the other adults are shot head straight while matching her with the color palette of the children. From her dyed hair and wardrobe of pajamas, Halle is seen as just as much of a trouble-maker and child as Moonee. A tactic that we think that Zabe used very well in the framing of the film.

Photo Courtesy of A24

Creating an almost larger than life world for Moonee to live her life in helped to drive and emphasize her financial status even further. The children's clothing often is giant on them, falling off their shoulders or having to constantly pull them up. The beds, buildings, chairs, even picnic tables that they make up their adventures in are enormous compared to their small stature. Zabe's use of emphasizing that they will need to grow into this big world by not having anything sized to their stature helps to bring the film back down to reality. Feeding off the natural and authentic environment of the motel and its surroundings and amping it up to another level through the camera and development of the 35mm.

Photo Courtesy of A24

Overall "The Florida Project" was a pleasure to watch. You can watch the trailer below.

All Photos Courtesy of A24 Productions

written by sarahlindsayk on 2018-03-17 #videos

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3 Comments

  1. montagu
    montagu ·

    Beautiful cinematography indeed

  2. richardhall
    richardhall ·

    There's a lovely review by Mark Kermode on the BBC https://youtu.be/Gem-tJn0nJs

  3. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    I don't know if there's 35mm movie camera 🎥 I thought only 16mm

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