Twenty three years in the making, a young man from Boyle Heights is finally ready and eager to let the public see his work, his collection of films that is.
That young man is Frank Aragon, a filmmaker born and raised in the tough streets of Boyle Heights, a suburb of Los Angeles just to the east of the Los Angeles River.
In September of 2009 his film "Down for Life" starring Danny Glover, Snoop Dogg, Kate Del Castillo, Elizabeth Pena and newcomer Jessica Romero from Wilmington, world premiered at the prestigious 34th Annual Toronto International Film festival.
The independent film was produced and 2nd unit directed by the Boyle Heights native. The Los Angeles Times, Peter Hammond calls the film an "early Oscar contender" -- a sign of Frank Aragon's dream in the making.
This is his fifth film in the capacity of producer; Aragon has written and directed the others. Aragon formed his company, 1211 Entertainment, to create, market, and distribute American-Latino themed films with a universal appeal.
This determined filmmaker is ready to make a name for himself. In fact, he has been working on this life-long dream since he was 13. His story is quite inspirational. He grew up in a single parent household. His mother worked two jobs which left him to generally grow up by all alone the majority of the time.
A "latch-key" kid is what he calls himself. He spent hours taking buses into Hollywood when he should have been sitting in his 9th grade classes because he knew he was destined for the movie industry and couldn't get started soon enough. He was so passionate about his goals he went out and just started doing it and it was as simple as that. Whatever movie related project he could work on to obtain experience, he jumped on enthusiastically. He started off as an actor and pretty quickly landed off Broadway in New York.
Six months later he landed his first starring role in "Angel Town" opposite Teresa Saldana. He didn't have a very close relationship with his father until his early twenties. "I grew up brave able to take on the world but my personal relationships have suffered because the absence of my mother and father in my childhood turned into what I made to be my own negative perceptions of close relationships; inside I felt worthless".
He has wondered if that contributed to his desire for a life in show business-- a longing for acknowledgment and admiration. Just after returning from Minnesota where he starred in a PBS American Playhouse film, he faced yet another challenge. He lost his vision in his right eye from a freak accident involving a bungee cord. He went through 5 years of surgeries and struggles adapting to his disability. "I thought my acting career was over so I returned to school to learn the technicalities of what I loved-- to produce and direct".
He began creating his own movies 12 years ago. His other film titles are "My Fathers Love", "Boyle Heights", and "Hollywood Familia". There are no limitations for Aragon. He sees Hollywood as not having completely caught on to the importance of brown behind and in front of the camera. "We are a part of the American fabric. I myself am a third generation Mexican-American with my roots right here in Los Angeles. I love this city and all it has to offer. If you work hard and you believe in yourself, the sky is the limit".
He's been involved in the movie industry for over 23 years now, a member of the Screen Actors Guild since 1987 and has been in front of and behind the camera the last twelve. He wants to work with the best because he believes he is as worthy as anyone else. Confidently embracing his calling, he says "I WANT TO AFFECT PEOPLE'S LIVES BY THE STORIES I'M TELLING, STORIES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN OUR SOCIETY".
He is dedicated to tell the stories that need to be told, "ÔÇªlike our involvement as a people who have contributed greatly to the growth of this country". Regardless of how or why he got started, he is faithfully committed to this goal. His oldest brother fought in Vietnam and his uncle fought in Europe during World War II. He shares, "My father fought at the end of the war in the Pacific and yet there were no Latinos portrayed in the HBO series of the same name by Hollywood icons, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks", yet he is still a huge fan of their work. "I would love the opportunity to work with these men and would like to remind them not to forget all the people of color who also happen to be Americans that are a huge part of our history too".
Frank started his own company, 1211 Entertainment, for that very reason; he feels there is huge lack of American-Latino product. There is a need and he intends to help fill it. "I am an actor who is also a writer, producer and director and I am very proud of what I have overcome in my own life to be where I am at in my career. I am a father with three children, two of which I have a wonderful relationship with and another I aspire to one day. There is not one of us who is without fault. I have had my share of downfalls but I believe in getting up a stronger and a better person. I am blind in my right but learned to accept my disability". A lawsuit four years later allowed him to finance his company's current slate of films, with exception of "Down for Life", all to be released in the Fall of 2010.