Raised in Sussex County, Aaron Latta-Morissette grew up in the Rehoboth Beach area. He’s the writer, producer and star of The Night Clubbers, a short film, playing at the 6th Annual Ocean City Film Festival. It’s his first screenplay to be produced. It’s played at 20 festivals where it has won several awards.
He produced and shot the film exactly one year ago in March 2021. He was inspired by the Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller comedy, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004). Instead of dodge-ball, the sport in question is miniature golf. Latta-Morissette says he loves the game and grew up with it. Because of the layout and designs of the course, he thought mini-golf would provide good visuals for a film. He wrote the script in January 2021. He sent it out to people in February. A month later, he was on set in Ocean City, Maryland, shooting namely at Old Pro Golf on 68th Street, a shoot that lasted three days with a crew of about 10 people.
Chief among them was the director, Matthew James Thomas. Thomas is an English actor in his 30’s who had his Broadway debut in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (2011). Thomas played the titular role in Pippin (2013), which won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical at the 67th Tony Awards. Thomas maintained his role during the U.S. national tour of Pippin in 2014 through 2015.
By then, Latta-Morissette was attending Cape Henlopen High School. Since 8th grade, Latta-Morissette had been a child of the skateboarding world. During his freshman year of high school, he started making skateboarding videos with his friends. He loved skateboarding but he admits that doing these videos was him creating an environment to be on camera because by the time he entered Cape Henlopen, he knew he wanted to be an actor. He was in every school play and was eager to be whisked away to New York or Hollywood. His theater director at Cape realized this and that theater director was able to connect Latta-Morissette to Thomas when Thomas’ tour was in or near Delaware.
Latta-Morissette graduated Cape Henlopen in 2016. He attended the New York Film Academy (NYFA) for a year. He had an interest in filmmaking first, but it was through his acting classes that cemented his passion for being in front of the camera. Latta-Morissette would go on to do more intensive acting training at the William Esper Studio for two years.
After graduating from high school, while in New York, he got an email from Thomas, asking if he wanted Thomas as a kind of mentor or acting coach for him. The lessons would be once a month and grew to a more regular thing. The two worked together in this way, developing a friendship. It prompted Latta-Morissette to write a series about Thomas, a quasi-autobiographical series, mimicking the relationship between himself and Thomas. It seemed like an obvious thing that Latta-Morissette would go to Thomas to direct The Night Clubbers.
Yet, in addition to writing, producing and acting in The Night Clubbers, Latta-Morissette also had to wear many other hats during the production. On the first day, the Assistant Director who had to come from New York was late, so Latta-Morissette had to be the A.D. He also had to be a veritable set designer. He talked about learning at the William Esper Studio about being present and aware as an actor, but wearing so many hats, he wasn’t able or didn’t have much of a chance to surrender to the acting for this film. He says that his funnest times during the production were when he wasn’t on camera and could watch instead his roommate, Daniel Victor who co-stars here as a failed golf pro who gets humbled on a hometown trip and leaves him sleeping in his car.
Latta-Morissette did love the writing process. It was the one thing about which he was the most confident. He says he particularly loved the joke telling and coming up with banter. He did say that the character he portrays, that of “Chesterton,” did undergo some changes from writing it to performing it. Chesterton went from a more horrible character to a nicer and perhaps a bit fawning.
What isn’t fawning though is the website for this film. Check out the film’s press kit, which as Latta-Morisette agrees “takes the piss out” of the film a bit. It gives you a sense of his sense of humor. His slight irreverence might also help to explain the ending to his film or the lack thereof. It might also be the perfect ending to a film with quite the mocking tone.
The Night Clubbers.
Plays in Funny Shorts.
Sunday, March 6 at 11:00 AM at Seacrets.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 21 mins.
For more information, go to https://ocmdfilmfestival.com/.