Acting bug catches up with Austin filmmaker

By by gheni platenburg/
March 30, 2011 at 3:03 p.m.
Updated March 29, 2011 at 10:30 p.m.

Francois "Frank" Larosa

Francois "Frank" Larosa

The acting bug seemingly stalked Austin resident Francois Larosa years before it actually bit him.

Larosa, who is known around his hometown of Victoria by his given name of Frank Delarosa, decided he wanted to pursue a career in acting and filmmaking after working for 12 years as a social worker.

"I said I'd never be in this field," said Delarosa, who unwillingly took theater classes as electives in high school and college. "I never imagined I'd be at this point."

Despite not easily warming up to the idea of working in the acting and film industry, Larosa, has made up for lost time, having worked as an actor in 20 movies and wrote and directed three films.

The Mexican-American filmmaker's latest films - "The Success for the Four" and "Brotherhood" - debuted at SXSW, an annual music, film, and interactive conference in Austin.

"I'm very pleased where I am right now. I'm doing what I love and getting paid for it," said Larosa, 49. "That's a great place to be in life."

The Victoria native's first encounter with acting came while he was a student at Victoria High School.

Larosa needed to take an elective and the only one available was theater.

From the beginning, his teacher noticed something special about the young actor.

"My drama teacher wanted me to be in a senior play, but I told her I didn't want to do it because I didn't think it was the right part for me," said Larosa. "She told me not only would I drop a letter grade, but I also wouldn't get my thespian card."

After graduating high school in 1980 without his thespian card, Larosa went on to attend classes at Victoria College.

While there, he was once again faced with the dilemma of having to take theater as an elective, this time under the tutelage of renowned Victoria College theater professor Ruth Williams.

In 1992, Larosa graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in psychology, after which, he pursued a career in social work.

Larosa's first official acting role came after auditioning for the 2005 studio film "The Alamo," featuring Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton.

He auditioned for the part at the behest of a friend who worked for the Texas Film Commission.

The casting directors took notice of Larosa's natural ability and cast him in the one-liner role of a U.S. senator.

"It was the greatest experience," he said. "It got cut, but I got the bug at that time."

Smitten with acting, Larosa, who signed with Boulevard Talent Agency, made the decision to go by the name of Francois Larosa.

"I was guided in the waters that way and it paid off," he said.

Eventually, he went on to act in a number of independent and studio films including "A Tree of Life," "Red, White and Blue," "Balls Out: The Gary Houseman Story," "Discretion" and most recently, Robert Rodriguez's film "Machete," where he played Robert DeNiro's emergency room doctor.

In 2008, he decided to try his hand at script writing and filmmaking.

Larosa, who learned all about script writing, directing and producing from his time spent on movie sets, acquired a low-end camcorder and began promoting his services to Austin-area non-profit groups, thus began Larosa's production company Starfield Productions.

Over the last few years, the actor-turned director has written and directed the psychological thriller "Reincarnation of Jesabel;" "The Success for the Four," a Spanish tele-novella with English subtitles that chronicles childhood friends from Mexico City and their navigation into the unfamiliar terrain of Austin; and "Brotherhood," the story of an old man who teaches a teen that racism is still alive in society.

Larosa's films have received positive feedback, earning him fans from near and far.

Many people, including Larosa, credit his unorthodox method to filmmaking as one of the keys to his films' success.

Larosa, who struggled with reading comprehension growing up, does his story boards prior to writing his scripts, which is opposite of many filmmakers' methodology.

"If you don't have a good story, then you won't have a good film," said Larosa, as he described his filmmaking style. "I always like to have a Twilight Zone finish where you don't see it until the end."

"He reminds me of David Lynch, not in terms of content, but how he shoots his films," said Lauren Morris, composer and sound designer for Starfield Productions. "I connect with that musically."

The father of two said his future plans include creating a film based on the comic book "Criminal" and continuing to speak to aspiring filmmakers and actors.

"What happens in the past, doesn't define what will be in the future," advised Larosa. "Take in all the positive feedback you can in this business."



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