Cape alumnus produces and stars in short film

‘Up and Down’ shown at Ocean City Film Festival
March 8, 2023

Aaron Latta-Morissette, a 2016 graduate of Cape Henlopen High School, produced and starred in a short film called “Up and Down,” released in November 2022. Two screenings of the film were shown as part of the Perseverance Showcase of the Ocean City Film Festival March 4-5. 

Latta-Morissette worked with director Luke Masella in early 2020 to produce a single-shot, eight-minute film that follows the workout routine of an unnamed weightlifter in his old high school gym. As he pushes his physical limits at the bench press, it is clear he is struggling with the bounds of his emotions. 

Latta-Morissette was introduced to Masella through a web series project Masella was creating at film school.

“He was a freshman director when I was like a ‘freshman actor,’” said Latta-Morissette. “We hit it off immediately. I ended up doing the web series with him, but then over the years he would call on me to do his thesis films.”

Masella was preparing his senior thesis film, but then his plans fell through two weeks prior to his shoot date, and he was forced to write a new film from scratch. Masella reached out to Latta-Morissette with the script, and he was quickly on board. 

“I was trying to understand, in kind of a quick turnaround, what was going on, what was happening and, most importantly ... who am I, what am I going through, how does this change as the movie goes on, and how does that get highlighted as it goes on?” said Latta-Morissette.

The group laid out a blueprint in a high school gym where they placed tape on the floor to precisely map out where the actors and camera needed to be at each moment. In total, the team spent 12 hours planning the choreography.

“The next day, we started rolling, and the first couple of takes we had some hiccups we went through, and then all in all we did 18 full run-throughs of the movie,” said Latta-Morissette. “I believe the last take was the one that got used.

“Luke is such an incredible director that every step of the way, I felt like I could really trust that I was in good hands. I felt like I could have jumped off the Empire State Building and he’d catch me. I just really believed every note he gave. It was so easy to use it and also not be worried about the end result because I knew it was going to be great with him.”

“Up and Down” has already made its way through three international film festivals in the past few months. The film has also garnered popularity on several short film review publications. Take2IndieReview gave the movie a 5-out-of-5 and Indy Short Mag left it a 4.7-out-of-5. 

“There just is such a small community of filmmakers that specifically do short films,” said Latta-Morissette. “And for the most part, short films are usually used as stepping stones for bigger projects to get made. It’s almost like an example of what I could do if I had the resources to make a whole project. And that’s just kind of the beauty of the medium.”

Latta-Morissette is a full-time actor in New York City, but he has been a Lewes resident since 2005. After graduating from Cape, he left Delaware for the New York Film Academy, where he completed one year at the conservatory. He continued his studies at the William Esper Studio in Manhattan under a two-year program, which was followed by an additional year of alumni courses. Since then, he has trained with an acting coach once a week.

After filming “Up and Down” in 2020, Latta-Morissette released his first self-produced short film and traveled to a variety of film festivals to put it on display. From there, he worked on different movies in Los Angeles, one of which was Marvel’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” As COVID-19 restraints began lifting in 2021, he had the opportunity to perform crew work for multiple shows in New York City.

Most recently, Latta-Morissette has spent his time co-starring in “Godzilla and the Titans,” which is slated to be released on Apple TV+ in December. He has also been guest starring on shows for Discovery+ and the History Channel. Streaming on is the short film, “Doesn’t Fall Far,” where Aaron stars opposite Academy Award-winning and three-time Golden Globe nominee Eric Roberts. He has also been named Best Actor for his lead role in the 2021 film The Alpines at four independent film festivals. He spends some free time as a nominator for The Drama League, which is a theatrical organization based in New York City that supports directors and promotes their films. 


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter