"Star Maps" (1997) mirrored Miguel Arteta's own observations about desperation in Hollywood absorbed while a student at the American Film Institute, He spent four years raising money and shooting this film about a young Latino with dreams of becoming a movie star, who is forced into prostitution by his own father. Premiering out of competition at the Sundance Film Festival, "Star Maps" was purchased by Fox Searchlight and opened later in the year amid much publicity, if not gushing critical acclaim. In the long run, though the film proved to be a bit of a financial disappointment for the studio.
The son of a Peruvian father and Spanish mother, Arteta was born in Puerto Rico and spent his teenage years in Costa Rica. He moved to the USA to attend college, where he began making films, including the short "Every Day Is a Beautiful Day", a satire of Hollywood musicals. Arteta then entered the world of filmmaking as a location assistant on Sidney Lumet's "Q & A" (1990) and as a second camera assistant to Jonathan Demme on the documentary "Cousin Bobby" (1991), before heading to Los Angeles to study at the American Film Institute (AFI). Feeling alienated as a Latino and disenchanted with the atmosphere at AFI, which Arteta perceived as full of insiders and/or people willing to sell their mother's souls to make a film, Arteta chose instead to make a film with Latino characters who weren't stereotypical, "Star Maps". After making the film Arteta told the Village Voice he was taking time off to become "aware of my Latin heritage and the pain that that entails".