We sat down with producer DeVon Franklin to discuss his latest film Flamin’ Hot. The film follows the inspiring true story of Richard Montañez who as a Frito-Lay janitor disrupted the food industry by channeling his Mexican-American heritage to turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos from a snack into an iconic global pop culture phenomenon.
Interview with Producer DeVon Franklin
DeVon Franklin is a filmmaker, an award-winning author, a motivational speaker, and an actor. He began his film career as an expert marketing executive for Sony Pictures. After meeting with the real-life Richard and Judy Montañez, producer Franklin felt determined to tell their story. During our interview, Franklin told us about his inspiration and the process of bringing this story to life.
Flamin’ Hot was a project 7 years in the works
When asked about how he originally joined the project, Franklin said, “You know, about seven years ago, I met Richard Montanez and his wife, Judy Montanez. They came to a meeting with me in my production office, and I just said, ‘Tell me your story.’ Richard started articulating how he started as a janitor working for a Frito-Lay factory in Rancho Cucamonga, and had this idea to help save jobs at the factory, to have a spicy product that he could market to his community in Southern California. Then being given the opportunity to do that. And that ultimately led to the success of what we now know was Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.”
Franklin went on to explain his fascination with Richard’s story.
“That story, not only the creation and the success of Flamin’ Hot, but also him becoming one of the top executives for Frito-Lay… That blew me away, to go from janitor to corporate executive. How did you do that? So at the end of that meeting, I told him that I would get his movie made. I just gave him my word. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I was so motivated and inspired by his story, I just had to share with others.”
About Flamin’ Hot
In Flamin’ Hot, director Eva Longoria tells the story of Richard Montañez whose drive and dedication saw him rise up the ranks at Frito-Lay as he helped establish Flamin’ Hot Cheetos – the snack that disrupted the food industry and became a global pop-culture phenomenon. Montañez was born in an East Los Angeles barrio community to Mexican-American parents in the late 1950s. Montañez was gifted with a smart mind, an ambitious soul, and a dream for a better life. The film stars Jesse Garcia as Richard and Annie Gonzalez as his wife, Judy.