Introducing Mena Guy: A Filipina-American Filmmaker Redefining Horror Cinema

Mena Guy, a Filipina-American horror filmmaker, emerges as a prominent voice in the realm of independent cinema, captivating audiences with her dark and intricate storytelling inspired by literary icons like Edgar Allan Poe. From her humble beginnings to her current stature as a respected figure in the indie film community, Mena’s cinematic journey is a testament to resilience, vision, and the relentless pursuit of storytelling.

Rooted in a deep appreciation for fantasy and horror, Mena’s cinematic journey began with a profound love for the dark and intricate worlds depicted in literature. A graduate of CUNY Hunter, Mena possesses a profound understanding of the business and creative facets of the film industry, laying the foundation for her multifaceted career.

Mena’s expertise in editing, honed through years of dedication and hard work, serves as the cornerstone of her filmmaking endeavors. Fueled by a pragmatic approach and devoid of financial privilege, she mastered both editing and shooting techniques, enabling her to bring her unique visions to life independently.

A passion for music has always been a driving force in Mena’s creative endeavors. Drawing inspiration from her love of music, she has seamlessly integrated dynamic music videos into her repertoire, infusing her film projects with vibrant energy and emotion.

Currently, Mena is exploring the intersection of music and film, aspiring to cast musicians in unconventional roles to create groundbreaking cinematic experiences. Her innovative approach and dedication to pushing boundaries have earned her recognition and respect within the industry.

As Mena Guy continues to carve her path in the world of cinema, her journey serves as an inspiration to aspiring filmmakers everywhere. With her unwavering commitment to storytelling and a relentless pursuit of excellence, she is poised to leave an indelible mark on the landscape of horror cinema.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Mena to discuss her journey in the industry, and here’s what went down:

Could you please provide our readers with a brief background about yourself and how you started in the industry?

I began my filmmaking journey as a writer. I was very much drawn to fantasy and horror. Horror could easily blend the two, and on a much cheaper budget, so I started trying to produce horror scripts. Actual dark history, crime, and literature geniuses like Edgar Allen Poe heavily inspired me. I even have a raven tattoo because of how much I love his works. I went to college at CUNY Hunter to study film. There, I realized how crazy expensive filmmaking is, and to
be good in the field, you have to understand the business aspect of it. I just needed to get on set, so I learned editing. Everyone needs an editor, so in my mind, it was the easiest and most secure way to get a job. I didn’t come from money, so I needed to work, and editing seemed the easiest way to get my foot in the door. It was something that I could also strengthen my skills on my own without having to make as much of an investment into gear. I started editing
projects for people to build up a reel and eventually did it for profit. I saved up, bought a camera, and learned how to shoot. I figured if I could shoot and edit, I could make my own movies without having to rely on people. Of course, you need a crew, but I wanted to make sure that if in case someone bails I would be able to make my own projects and keep practicing. I’m a big music fan and would work with a lot of artists. I’d offer people free music videos just to keep creating and building my portfolio. Huge metal and rap fan – I love high-energy music. I eventually got a job as an in-studio video producer with XXL magazine and Loudwire magazine. I honed my video skills there, but my main love is storytelling, so I’d write during my breaks at work. I’d write and save up to make a legitimate short film so I could hire actors, hunt locations, the whole thing. I did it from the ground up and produced “MONSTER,” which is on my YouTube channel “Church of Mena.” From there, I would connect with people in the indie film world and make projects. Eventually, people liked my work and would hire me to help them produce and direct their projects. I’m absolutely influenced by music as well as literature and human nature. One of my goals is to use musicians in films as actors.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The artistic process is the fun part, but the planning is challenging for me. Nothing ever goes perfectly to plan. But making sure you have a solid crew is what helps.

Do you try to be more original or deliver to viewers what they want?

Yes, of course! If you’re not original, what’s the point? There’s an audience for everything, so just be yourself and stick to it; the audience will come in time.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

It’s okay to let people go. Teamwork is good, but cut ties if people are not looking out for your best interest. Don’t let them take you down.

What is your directing Kryptonite?

Working with people who don’t have your back is also a sign of poor communication. You need communication—heavy communication —to have successful projects. Make sure people understand you and your vision.

What was the best money you ever spent as a director?

I invest in my own projects, even if they’re short films, so people can see what I want to direct, write, and produce so I can get my stories out there. If I won the lotto, I’d make a movie.

What was an early experience where you learned that films had power?

There wasn’t a particular experience that stood out. Films have always had power. They immortalize stories, create life, and birth stories, worlds, people, etc., according to the creator’s best vision.

How many finished and half-finished books do you have?

Not sure. I do try to read often, though. One day, maybe I’ll write one.

Can you tell us more about your latest film?

My last short was an animation, which you can find on my YouTube channel, “Church of Mena.” I post my free to the public films there. It’s about two sisters who go away to their disabled aunt’s house for the summer and stumble upon a cursed mirror. It deals with facing your insecurities and trauma and battling yourself. I plan to turn it into a feature and use the concept short as part of the pitch. Currently working on polishing the feature script. My brother Brandon Guy actually animated the short, so it’s pretty cool to have done something with my sibling.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Stop caring what people think.

What advice would you give to a newbie director who wants to make it in the industry?

Make projects. If you’re not a writer, connect with one and make some projects that bring their stories to life. Practice on set is so valuable, even if it’s your own set and you’re not getting hired yet.

What are your future plans?

Make more movies! Bigger sets! Bigger budgets! ENJOY LIFE. I’d love to make films that are tied to Filipino culture.