Mike has contributed shorts for the gang on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and even tried his hand at the holidays with All American Christmas Tale. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr. Mike Mendez.
Fister: How does one come up with a title like Big Ass Spider and how do you approach that seriously as a director?
Mike: It just felt like the right title for the movie. I told the producers at Epic Pictures from the first meeting that’s what it should be called. It was just the right attitude and spirit of the film. As for how I approach it seriously as a director…I don’t. I just try to have fun with it.
Fister: Was there a time you questioned this film in any way based on the title or story?
Mike: Yes, very much so right from the get-go. My initial reaction was that it wasn’t the type of thing I wanted to do, but when Epic Pictures seemed to be so supportive in trying to do something different and hopefully better, I jumped at the opportunity.
Fister: You’re experienced when it comes to horror. Was there anything you learned from other films that resonated within this film?
Mike: You are always learning stuff, hopefully. Every film is a learning experience that makes you a better filmmaker. So there are certain tricks and traditions you use to maximize your limited time and budget. But every film is going to have its own unique set of challenges.
Fister: Any direction you took that was a surprise?
Mike: I’ve never relied so heavily in CG effects and digital filmmaking in general, but I think it opened my mind to all sorts of possibilities in dealing with special effects. I will always love practical effects, but my horizon has been widened.
Fister: Everything I’ve read about Epic sounds very cool and accommodating. How was it to work with Epic?
Mike: I love them. I think they are great. I consider them very dear friends. The most important thing as a filmmaker is that I had their support. At least for me, that’s been a very rare thing.
Fister: Do you find studios that produce this type of content are more open-minded about just letting people do their job and take over running with the film?
Mike: Not necessarily. In my experience I found that people making these low-budget films are very concerned with the final product because they need to make sure that they can sell it. Sometimes there is heavy involvement and concerns from the production company. Understandably so. Even making low-budget films still costs a fortune.
Fister: What’s your favorite horror film? Why?
Mike: My favorite horror film is “Evil Dead 2.” It was my film school growing up. I love the mix of horror and comedy, I love the inventiveness of the camera work and it has the best horror movie hero of all time: Mr. Bruce Campbell.
Fister: The cast of Big Ass Spider is super geek-friendly, Twin Peaks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, Heroes, Chuck, The Dollhouse, etc. How did this impact your direction with such a talented cast?
Mike: It makes it much easier. When I was doing my very early films I felt I had to compensate some of the lack of acting ability with spiffy visuals. Now, as long as I set parameters, I can let the actors go and it was a joy to see what they came up with.
Fister: Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers walk into a hipster bar. What’s the first thing that happens?
Mike: They meet eye-to-eye, and as we all know, all mass killers hate each other. Even though they know that much like “Highlander,” there can be only one, the two titans will band together to chop the shit out of every filthy, ironic beard-wearing hipster into tiny bits. Once everyone is decimated into a pile of Kerouac-reading goo, the two blood-soaking maniacs charge at each other in a murderous rampage.
Fister: Lastly, Mike, what are your plans for the immediate future?
Mike: My immediate future? Probably going to bed. It’s late. Hopefully, I will be back making movies with huge body counts soon than later.
Fister: What are you working on now?
Mike: I am working on a movie called “Don’t Kill It,” which is a demon-hopping movie in the vein of “The Hidden,” as well as a few other fun horror projects. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t stop making movies.
Thanks again to Mike and everyone at Epic Pictures Group for the warm hospitality. Kids, help keep horror legit and spend your time on projects that embody the spirit and creativity the genre deserves. Don’t forget to check out Big Ass Spider!