While Sean Baker’s, 2012 film Starlet took place in the valley, for his 2015 film Tangerine, he set out wanting to make a film about “areas of the city not typically featured in mainstream movies and TV”. He found his inspiration at Santa Monica Boulevard and Highland Avenue, just half a mile from his LA home. The main location for the film was the Donut Time shop on 6785 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, an actual donut shop that caught Baker’s attention by the unique and sometimes strange people who would shop there. In fact, Baker stated he refused shoot at any place other than the actual Donut Time in order to be authentic, and said that if they would not allow him to film there, he would not have interest to make the film at all.
Keeping with the tradition of his other films, Baker uses Neorealism to tell his stories. As a part of this, Baker casts nontraditional actors, who may have very little to no experience, but rather embody the character that Baker had in mind. By casting real lower-class members of the community who identify as LGBT, Baker lets the people of LA tell their own story when they don’t always get the chance to. The film doesn’t make Hollywood look as picture perfect as movies tend to make it seem, but rather shows it warts and all in an authentic manor. When outsiders think of Hollywood, they think of a city of lights filled with celebrities, but tales of everyday people like the ones told in this film are far more representative of the people who make up the city.