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Seriously Seedy and Inspired

Milwaukee film director Frankie Latina

May. 21, 2013
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Director Frankie Latina has begun work on Snap Shot, his second feature-length film. Starring Danny Trejo and native son Mark Borchardt, shooting is slated for Milwaukee this spring. Latina’s debut, Modus Operandi, played at Los Angeles’ Grauman's Chinese Theatre and New York’s IFC Center, earning him accolades as one of independent cinema’s bright young faces. Latina sat down with Off the Cuff to discuss Frank Lloyd Wright, cinephiles and artsploitation.


Milwaukee roots? 

Born here. Grew up on the Northwest Side, raised by both sets of grandparents—immigrant entrepreneurs and labor activists. As a teen [Tosa East] I made movies with my uncle's Super 8mm. Worked at video stores and shooting experimental films. Crossed over to narrative filmmaking at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Your great-grandfather built House on the Rock… 

He did. Alex Jordan Sr. He once met Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin to show a design: the Villa Maria in Madison. He worshipped Wright and hoped for his approval. Wright looked at the plans and said: "I wouldn't hire you to design a cheese crate or a chicken coop. You’re not capable." Fuming, my great-grandfather pointed to a rock spire and said: "I'm going to put a Japanese house up there." Wright didn't forget; he complained publicly to county officials and even bought nearby property, perhaps to get back at my great-grandfather. Hands down, the most architecturally interesting feature is the infinity room, jutting 218 feet over the Wisconsin Valley. It has 3,264 windows. Also, the 200-foot sea creature battling a giant octopus.


Modus Operandi was described as “seriously seedy and truly inspired,” a “grindhouse throwback” and “genius-level garbage.” How would you describe it? 

A culmination of Le Samouraï, Apocalypse Now, Coffy and Emanuelle in America. I made it for cinephiles, drive-in enthusiasts and artsploitation fans. 


Trejo compared you to director Robert Rodriguez. Snap Shot is your second film starring him. 

I made a cold call to people I trust: “Got the next one, know what it is and I’m ready.” I put myself out there and Trejo got on board (in a big way). He’s great.


You are working with Sundance on Kickstarter.

I don’t like selling; it’s uncomfortable. I just want to create, get the next project out of my head and onto the screen. I’m constantly searching for the right tone to get support without selling out. Eventually, I asked the world to make it happen.


Filming in Milwaukee—any foreshadowing regarding locales, scenes and familiar themes? 

Beautiful shots of the Wisconsin Gas Building, City Hall, Domes, art museum and Hoan Bridge, to name just a few. Can’t wait to show the world how breathtaking Milwaukee looks on film.


To learn more about Snap Shot or make a donation, visit: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1770961594/help-frankie-latina-produce-his-second-film-snap-s


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