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South By Southwest Film Interview – BIG ASS SPIDER! director Mike Mendez

by Jason Whyte

“A giant spider rampages through Los Angeles. A bumbling exterminator and his fast talking security guard sidekick might be the city's only hope.” Director Mike Mendez on BIG ASS SPIDER! This film will be screening as part of the Midnighters section at South By Southwest Film.

Is this your first SxSW/Austin experience?

Yes it is, I plan to do a lot of eating & drinking while I'm here!

Tell me a bit about your background and how you became a filmmaker. Also would love to hear about anything else you have made in the past.

I am born and raised in Los Angeles. I have been making movies since i was 10 years old and this is my fourth feature film.

What was the biggest challenge, or challenges, in making the film?

The Spider was very temperamental.   They say never work with children or animals and I get it now.  The Spider would have to be lured out of its trailer every day, often demanding to be fed only small children or live kittens, which I had such moral objections too cause I love cats, but it's the star of the movie, right?.  And honestly the spider was usually no good after three cause it was drunk, so we had to go with a lot of cgi.  Fucking Bull Shit, man.

What was your single favorite moment out of the entire production?

There was a day I got too kill around twenty people in a span of about a minute.  That's one to tell to the grand kids.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

Honestly. the hope that you're making something cool, that in the end this is something worth getting up for at the crack of dawn and working 18 hours a day on six days a week.  It's hard work, you better love what you are doing and hopeful that you'll get a good result.  If not for that this would be a really rough job.

I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and why it was decided to be filmed this way.

This was my first digital film. I've been a 35mm purist my entire life, but taking into account the heavy visual effects in the film, digital was the only logical choice to have a smooth workflow.  So we shot it on the Red MX and quite honestly I became a total convert.  Especially if you're an indie filmmaker, digital technology is an amazing tool and your ally.

What do you want audiences to take from the film?

Hopefully a new outlook on life, perhaps I may go so far to say a religious experience, perhaps a complete transformation of their soul.  Hopefully the blind will see again & the crippled may walk.  Either that or I hope they giggle a lot and have fun. An easier question for me to answer would be "What do you want audiences to take FOR the film"? Then the answer would be, either a pitcher of beer or a bong hit.

How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?

More important than ever.  In this social media age, word of mouth is the strongest tool an independent film has.

After the film screens at South By Southwest, what is the future release plan for the movie? Where would you like it to go?

Good question, we'll see.  It's the world premiere, literally so no domestic release plans at this moment.  God wiling that will change soon.  Of course, I hope it gets some sort of theatrical release, but I also hope this is the beginning of a series, either of films or for television.

Alamo Drafthouse and Paramount theaters in Austin aside, if you could show this movie in any cinema in the world, which one would you choose and why?

Well first of let me say this, and I'm not trying to blow smoke up the Alamo's ass, but I am so happy that alcohol is being served at the premiere!  We are going to have ourselves a little party in the theater that night!  I have a feeling we're going to have a good time.   So, other than that, to me it's less about the theater and more about the audience.  So I want to go wherever the fun crowds are.  I plan to be touring around with the movie internationally so I want to go wherever the fans are.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking or texting during a screening of your film?
I'd really like to smack 'em on the head, but it would suck if they were way bigger than me and kicked my ass in front of the crowd on premiere night.  That'd be really embarrassing.  So please don't text during the movie, unless it's a bootie call, then go with God, just please buy the Blu-Ray or purchase a download later when the movie comes out officially, or at least Netflix it, ya cheap bastard. Oh, and wear a jimmy hat. 
There are a lot of up and coming filmmakers both at SxSW and reading our site. I was curious if you had any advice to aspiring filmmakers?
Keep making movies, it's easier and more accessible than ever, there's a revolution happening and it's an exciting time.  
And finally, what is the single, greatest movie that you have seen at a film festival?
Hmmm, tough question you see a lot of interesting things at film festivals particularly the genre festivals.  So probably the most transformative was seeing the world premiere of "Being John Malkovich" at the New York Film Festival.  Spike Jones, Charlie Kauffman, Cusack, Diaz, Malkovich all did a panel afterwards.  My mind was blown that night.  Other notable mentions, I saw "L.A. Confidential" at Cannes, that was pretty cool.  Seeing "Trick 'R Treat" in a theater was great too.

This is one of the many films screening at the 2013 SXSW in Austin, Texas between March 8-16. For more information on the film’s screening, point your browser to

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte Facebook: jasonwhyte

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originally posted: 03/06/13 06:52:57
last updated: 03/06/13 06:55:07
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