Mike: There were several movies that had huge impacts on me when I saw them in the theater as a kid. An amazing and influential theatrical experience for me was "Friday the 13th part 7". I saw it opening night in Westwood, where all the college kids would go from UCLA. I know it sounds crazy, but it was almost a religious experience for me, the mixture of horror with comedy in a packed theater was just electric. Hearing, laughter, screaming & cheering was just amazing. Something just clicked with me, it was such a fun theatrical experience that it really cemented what I wanted to do for a living.
LatinoBuzz: Between going to Catholic school in Pasadena, CA and working at your parents Mexican/Salvadorean restaurant in Los Angeles, where did the obsession for cinema kick in?
Mike: Well my brother and dad were big cinefiles, so yes Sunday morning was reserved for the Lord, but Sunday afternoon was reserved for Spielberg & Carpenter. We went to movies all the time and it really became the center of my life. Still is.
LatinoBuzz: Latinos make up the largest percentage of movie-goers and genre films are immensely popular amongst us. Yet we so poorly represented. What do we do to change that?
Mike: Well with "Big Ass Spider" the revolution has begun, ha! But seriously, I'm very encouraged by the amount of Latino film makers working in the industry. Between Del Toro, Cuaron, De la Iglesia, Amnenabar, Almondovar among many others there is a strong presence of Latino film makers making really great stuff. I don't see that trend stopping and I hope only growing.
LatinoBuzz: Your first feature was 'Killers' back in 1995. It's quite a remarkable story of how two young 22 year old best friends went and shot a film in a very 90's by-any-means-necessary manner. Can you tell us about how that one came together?
Mike: Hey, points for doing your homework. "Killers" was my first film, shot locally in our parents house, it was funded on donations, loans & credit cards long before kickstarter existed. It was difficult, but fun, in retrospect kind of dangerous too, running around with shotguns shooting blanks in residential neighborhoods. The short version of the story was that it was made because there were a lot of short ends of film left from another friends movie, so we took that film and made "Killers". I owe that movie everything, it started my career.
LatinoBuzz: Do you ever recall a movie you watched on VHS that absolutely no one saw, that you thought you'd love to bring it back and remake it as a Mike Mendez film?
LatinoBuzz: If a damsel from any film and a director from any film had a kid and named him Mike Mendez who are they?
Mike: Man, I have no idea, but little known fact, there is a German rapper who named himself after me. So, I don't know if that answers the question. But if Sam Raimi & Megan Fox wanted to have a love child and name him after me, please send me a video. ;)
LatinoBuzz: What's your creative process?
LatinoBuzz: The highest and lowest points of your career so far?
Mike: Highest point of my career, it may be happening right now, the reaction to the trailer and clips from "Big Ass Spider" has been phenomenal, so at least for the moment I'm having a bit of renewed interest. Low points, I have many, ha, but It's a tie from when I had to follow a camera crew around all day and carry tripods all day or the time I had to direct a talent show for Microsoft starring American Idol reject William Hung. Sadly both of them were deep into my directing career. But like I said, things seem to be getting better, and the car wash I work at gives me Thursdays off to take meetings ;)
LatinoBuzz: Who is a hero from history who would make a good drinking buddy?
Mike: I've always wanted to do blow with Genghis Khan, 'bet that guy knows how to party. I also think a bottle of wine with Hitchcock would've been cool. Also doing shots with the baby Jesus, bet that guy knows how to party ;)
Latinobuzz: What inspired BIG ASS SPIDER aesthetically?
Mike: The spider itself was inspired by a cross between a black widow and the Alien Queen. The movie itself, if just wanted to do something sharp and high key. My last film "Gravedancers" was so dark, I really wanted to go in another direction.
LatinoBuzz: What's next for Mike Mendez?
Dig BIG ASS SPIDER at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Big-Ass-Spider/121332304627476?fref=ts
Written by Juan Caceres and Vanessa Erazo, LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow @LatinoBuzz on twitter and facebook.