“The Florida Project” is Disney’s in-house moniker for the Disney World Resort. In director Sean Baker’s new film this name becomes intertwined with the poverty surrounding the theme park. The film follows kids living in the cheap motels at the outskirts of Disney World that have unofficially become housing projects, and are ironically named The Magic Castle.
Recently, Baker spoke to Collider about choosing the film’s location and subject matter, “[T]his is the area where I was made aware of this type of fringe family housing situation. You know, the natural habitat. This is a national problem, however, Chris Bergoch, my co-screenwriter, brought it to my attention from [the Disneyworld area] first and it wasn’t until I did research that I realized this is a nationwide thing. But, we still decided to focus on it in that area because of the juxtaposition between children growing up in motels and what we consider the happiest place on earth right next door. We were thinking that the message we would be giving the audience is if it could happen here it could happen anywhere. So that’s why we focused on it there. And from a director’s standpoint, it gave me so much to work with visually. Route 192 is its own thing and you can’t find that anywhere else. The colors and shapes of the buildings, the way that all the small businesses in a way feed off of the parks and sort of rip off the themes of Disney — you’re not going to find that anywhere else. It just gave me a lot of eye candy to work with so it made my job easier. But also, it was about the message we were trying to get out there. I think that people would be taken aback by it the same way I was taken aback by it and getting people’s attention became a big driving force.”