H. P. Mendoza (born March 13, 1977, San Francisco, California) is a Filipino American film director, screenwriter, actor, and producer of features and short films. His most recent work, I Am a Ghost, premiered on March 13, 2012 at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.
Colma: The Musical
After writing a concept album called Colma: The Musical as a birthday present for his childhood friend, he reunited with film school classmate Richard Wong, who had just finished working on the television show, Arrested Development and was looking for a script to direct. When Wong listened to a track from Mendoza's concept album, he asked Mendoza how long it would take to turn it into a script. After seven days, a first draft was born, Mendoza flew from Philadelphia to San Francisco and the plans were set in motion. After 18 days of shooting and several months of editing, a feature film was made for a budget of roughly $15,000. The film, called "an itty-bitty movie with a great big heart" by The New York Times went on to win three Special Jury Prizes on the film festival circuit and was acquired by Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate Entertainment.
After experiencing a horrible breakup, Richard Wong wanted to create an experimental genre-skipping film based on the turmoil he experienced subsequently. He hired Mendoza to write a preliminary screenplay and score. After Mendoza edited the film, it premiered at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. The film, heralded as "brave" by UCLA Asia Pacific Arts stars Mousa Kraish and won a Technical Art Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival for Richard Wong and H.P. Mendoza.
During the festival life of Colma: The Musical, Mendoza and actress L.A. Renigen would jump back and forth from gay film festival to Asian film festival for about a year. After experiencing the strange treatment Renigen would receive from gay men (automatically labeling her as a "fag hag"), he decided to create Bethesda, a character based on Renigen. Bethesda, like Renigen, is a performance artist who moves to San Francisco to workshop her latest performance piece dealing with finding her biological mother. Also like Renigen, Bethesda finds herself going to gay bars every night and getting labeled a "fag hag". The musical film, called "irresistible" by the San Francisco Chronicle was funded by the Center for Asian American Media and was awarded the Best Narrative Feature Audience Award at the 2009 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.
The film was acquired by TLA Releasing in 2010.
Like the original Colma: The Musical concept album, Elsewhere was written as a gift for Mendoza's partner, Mark Del Lima, known for his odd mixtapes and offbeat playlists. Mendoza tried to mimic the patterns, themes, and sounds of his mixtapes and playlists and wrote fourteen songs that follow the general arc of a Mark Del Lima mix. The album marks a temporary departure for Mendoza's music, having virtually no lyrics and sounding as if it were recorded in various eras to evoke a sense of nostalgia. Selected tracks can be heard in the films Longhorns by David Lewis, Abuela by Paul Kolsanoff, Yes, We're Open by Richard Wong and Fruit Fly by H.P. Mendoza. Elsewhere was released in 2009.
Great Hymn of Thanksgiving/Conversation Storm
Great Hymn of Thanksgiving takes place at a dinner table, where the sounds of conversation have been replaced by fragments of news reports from Iraq, scraps from the Army prayer manual, invented Arab folk tales, and a recurring State of Emergency pointing everywhere and leading nowhere. The sounds of the table itself struggle to bring this “conversation” into a confrontation with material reality.
The piece is a trio between the functions of music, noise, and semantic meaning, wherein each function can mingle with the others, lose itself in reveries (under fields of motive force that assert themselves with varying degrees of insistence), or, when necessary, take a solo.
Conversation Storm sees three friends from three sides of the political spectrum unwillingly argue their way through a "ticking time bomb" scenario, dissecting, revising, and even brutalizing their own positions in the process — but time has either stopped or entered an ugly loop, and as the friends assign and reassign roles, the scenario begins to dissolve the boundaries between real and hypothetical, past and future, day and night.
In 2007, Mendoza was working for the San Francisco Fringe Festival and was able to see a performance of The Nonsense Company's Great Hymn of Thanksgiving/Conversation Storm and was determined to meet the troupe. In 2008, Mendoza gave his voice to Great Hymn playwright Rick Burkhardt for his award-winning composition "Calf", performed by the ensemble Ascolta and decided to ask Burkhardt if he would be interested in making a film version of Great Hymn of Thanksgiving/Conversation Storm, called "a delicious two-course evening" by Time Out New York.
The film is slated for release in August 2013.
I Am a Ghost
I Am a Ghost is a horror film directed and written by Mendoza in 2012, starring Anna Ishida, Jeannie Barroga and Rick Burkhardt. It premiered at the 2012 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. The film has garnered high praise from publications such as Variety,Twitch Film,.SF Weekly, The Philadelphia Enquirer and more. Among the awards the film has received include:
- Best Picture - Bram Stoker International Film Festival 2012
- Best Horror Film - PollyGrind Film Festival
- Best Film Audience Award - Nocturna: Madrid International Fantastic Film Festival 2013
- Best Horror Director - SF Weekly 2012
- Best Horror Director - Tucson Terrorfest 2012
- Best Actress (Anna Ishida) - Tucson Terrorfest 2012
- Special Jury - Best Actress - MIX Film Festival Mexico 2012
- Best Actress (Anna Ishida) - Terror Molins 2013
The film also appeared on a number of "Best of" lists, including:
- Top 10 Films of 2012 - National Film Society
- Best of 2012 Performers - Asia Pacific Arts
- Best Films of 2012 - Asia Pacific Arts
- Best of 2012 - The Conduit Speaks
- Best Directors of 2012 - The Conduit Speaks
- Best of 2012 - Dallas Voice
- Top 10 Films of 2012 - All Things Horror
- Best of 2012 - Film Bizarro
- Top 10 Best Horror 2012 - Planet of Terror
- Best of 2012 - Horror Director - SF Weekly
- Best of 2012 - MIX Film Festival Mexico 2012
- BEST ACTRESSES OF 2012 - MIX Film Festival Mexico 2012
Mendoza has also contributed music to theater troupes like Precarious Theatre for their musical adaptation of a chapter in Don Quixote, I'm Yours! (or Deranged by Love). He also scored the 2009 films Abuela and A Lower Power, directed by Paul Kolsanoff and Robert O'Geen, respectively.
In 2010, he produced the David Lewis comedy, Longhorns, as well as produced its soundtrack.
In 2011, Mendoza shot the live action accompaniment for Mark Del Lima's animation in Bedsider: Fact or Fiction. The music was also composed by Mendoza.
In 2012, while shooting I Am a Ghost, Mendoza teamed up with magician Christian Cagigal to make a screen version of his award-winning Now and at the Hour, slated for a Christmas 2013 released.
Mendoza is openly gay and lives with his partner, designer/animator Mark Del Lima, with whom he started Ersatz Film, a division of Ersatz Design.
- 2006 - Colma: The Musical - screenwriter, lyricist, composer, actor
- 2007 - Option 3 - screenwriter, lyricist, composer, editor
- 2008 - Abuela - co-director, composer
- 2009 - Fruit Fly - director, screenwriter, lyricist, composer, editor, actor
- 2009 - Great Hymn of Thanksgiving/Conversation Storm - co-director, cinematographer, editor
- 2009 - A Lower Power - composer
- 2010 - Longhorns - producer, editor, soundtrack
- 2011 - Now and at The Hour - director, editor, cinematographer, soundtrack
- 2011 - Storm Still - director, editor, cinematographer
- 2012 - I Am a Ghost - director, editor, cinematographer
- 2013 - Now and at the Hour - director, cinematographer, editor, composer
- 2011 - Bedsider: Fact or Fiction - cinematographer, composer
- 2010 - Obscura (TV) - director, composer, editor
- 2009 - LALA (TV) - director, composer, editor (8 episodes)
- 2004 - Magic At - co-writer
- 2008 - I'm Yours! (or Deranged by Love) - lyricist, composer, musical director
- 2004 - Everything is Pop
- 2006 - Nomad
- 2007 - Colma: The Musical (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
- 2008 - Fruit Fly (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
- 2009 - Elsewhere
- 2010 - Longhorns (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
- 2011 - A Lower Power (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
- 2012 - I Am a Ghost (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
- 2012 - Yes, We're Open (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
- at the Internet Movie Database