Tangerine: All You Need Is A Want and an iPhone (ISA Sponsored)

Posted: Oct 21, 2015 Hosted By: Jacob Krueger

Tangerine is a brilliant illustration of just how little you need to actually succeed as a screenwriter or a filmmaker. To make a successful film you do not need millions of dollars. To make a successful film you do not need years and years and years of experience. To make a successful film you do not need to follow the rules or follow a formula. To make a successful film there are really only two things you need:


You need a Want, and you need an iPhone.


Tangerine was shot entirely on an iPhone 5s. And not only does it look beautiful, but it also tells a compelling story, taking two characters on a profound journey of change. And, though it doesn't have the most complicated plot in the world, the simplicity and the drive of its main characters' wants provide it with a rock solid structure.


In a way (and this is a funny thing to say) Tangerine is the Indie film version of Mad Max: Fury Road.


For those of you who've listened to my Mad Max: Fury Road Podcast, you understand that the plot of Fury Road is essentially “they drive East, and then they drive West.”


But the structure of Mad Max: Fury Road is about a character who is trying to find an escape, who finally learns that she has to go back and confront where she came from. In a similar way, Tangerine is built on that simple, primal want of its main character Sin-Dee.


Essentially Sin-Dee's journey in the movie is to head East and then to go back West. She starts out at Donut Time and she ends back at Donut Time. And her journey is also compelled by a very simple want: to find her boyfriend's mistress, and to beat the crap out of her!


That simple want provides the foundation of the entire structure of this beautiful little film.


Sin-Dee, like many of the characters in this movie, is a transgendered prostitute working the streets of Hollywood. Sin-Dee has just spent the last couple of months in prison, and now that she is out, she has learned that her pimp boyfriend is shacking up with another girl. And even worse, the girl isn’t even transgendered!


The structure of Sin-Dee’s journey grows from the hunt to go find this girl and, like the Charlize Theron character, Furiosa, in Fury Road, at each step, Sin-Dee is assaulted by obstacles, events and characters that stand in the way of her quest to find that girl.


And much like Furiosa, in situations where any other human being would have given up, Sin-Dee keeps on going, driven by the strength of her want. This makes it easy to root for Sin-Dee even though she may not come from our world, and though she’s taking actions that none of us would ever condone in real life...