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H.P. Mendoza doesn’t have nightmares. He thinks that getting the macabre out of his system by making I AM A GHOST got all that out of his system. The filmmaker, who got his start making the quirky, moving, and boisterous COLMA: THE MUSICAL, followed by the equally bracing musical, FRUITFLY, took a decisive turn with his horror film that made its debut at the 30th Annual San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (now known at CAAM), where it premiered within 24 hours of another film Mendoza had scripted and in which he co-starred, YES, WE’RE OPEN, directed by his COLMA collaborator, Richard Wong. I started the conversation there, with interesting digressions into the homogenizing nature of mainstream cinema, and the balance to his gay sensibility that Mendoza got from working with Wong. Then we moved on to the main attraction, I AM A GHOST, a film that is distilled down to a pure, unsettling essence. From composing the pace, rather than writing it, to subverting expectations about everything, including sound. Mendoza, in suitably high spirits, described the used of gender in the story, the joy of returning to his film-school roots by doing his own cinematography, the upside of having seven days to shoot, and the tricks perception can play on all of us, as well as how to turn that to a cinematic advantage. It’s also, I learned, the stuff of Mendoza’s waking nightmares, and, as a bonus, the ones he used to have before channeling his anxiety into cinema. They are, as one would expect from the maker of I AM A GHOST, imaginative, original, and seriously, psychologically creepy.
Since speaking to him on March 10. 2012, Mendoza, his star, Anna Ishida, and I AM A GHOST have won numerous awards both here and abroad, including the Audience Award for Best Film at Nocturna, the Madrid international Fantastic Film Festival, Best Film at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival.
Click on the link to listen to the interview (15:28) I AM A GHOST — H.P. Mendoza Interview.