Star Maps: Arteta on Prostitution

Born in Puerto Rico to Peruvian and Spanish parents, Miguel Arteta complains that, “because I am Latino, people tend to expect me to make one of two types of films: either a gang-banging, drug-dealing hustling film with one-dimensional characters, or a film that deals strictly in positive images of Latinos.”

Arteta resents Hollywood for not showing a more diverse Latino culture: “You see Latinos as gardeners or busboys or maids and these kids stand on the corners of Sunset Boulevard waving their maps seductively, trying to sell bits of dreams.” Observing these youngsters on Sunset, Arteta found them to be a great metaphor for the cultur clash in L.A.

If the ideas for a screenplay came easy to Arteta, financing the movie proved a nightmare, as his story has nine characters and more than 40 locations. “On top of that,” Arteta recalled, “it’s about a father prostituting his own son–and with Latinos! We showed the script to a few people in the industry, and they thought we were crazy.”

It was then that he and producer Matthew Greenfield began hunting for investors outside the mainstream. L.A. film patron Scott King committed $50,000, but by the time the shoot wrapped, 29 days later, the budget had blossomed into “a healthy six figures.”

Post-production was completed the day before Star Maps world premiered at Sundance, where it was picked up by Fox Searchlight for $2.5 million. Fox first opened the film in New York and L.A., then went wider in Latino-based cities like San Antonio, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, and San Francisco, eventually reaching 100 screens. However, at $600,000, the box-office outcome was a disappointment.