In Sean Baker’s award-winning 2017 film The Florida Project, a young girl, her single mother, and her friends live in rundown motels near Disney World, the children’s summer fun contrasting with the grim conditions around them. In this book, J. J. Murphy delves deep into the movie’s development and filming while also examining it within the wider context of Baker’s career.

Using production documents, different versions of the screenplay, and interviews with principal members of the production team, Murphy traces the evolution of The Florida Project from initial idea through its various stages of production. He highlights Baker’s unconventional strategies in making a film about a marginalized subculture, including alternative scripting, guerrilla-like filmmaking, improvisation, and the unorthodox casting of local and first-time actors. Murphy also explores how Baker’s impromptu style sometimes rankled crew members and caused a major crisis on set, revealing the difficulties indie filmmakers can face when working with professional crews on larger films. A lively analysis of this critically acclaimed movie, its director, and its production, The Florida Project also betters our understanding of contemporary independent cinema as a whole.


“Murphy’s study on The Florida Project is unique in the way it follows the contours of this idiosyncratic, unpredictable, wonderful production. The use of original interviews and unpublished material is tremendously rich and insightful. It is certainly one of the best single-film studies I have read.”
— Claire Perkins, author of American Smart Cinema