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H.P. Mendoza's third feature is a "home for the holidays" dark comedy where a Filipino-American family plots to kill an abusive member.
We're deep in post-production now and there are a lot of moving pieces. Our goal is to have a final cut by the end of 2017, while we start submitting to festivals. Click the link below to stay in the loop.
We're deep in post-production now and there are a lot of moving pieces. Our goal is to have a final cut by the end of 2017, while we start submitting to festivals. Click the link below to stay in the loop.
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240 backers pledged $52,086 to help bring this project to life.

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BITTER MELON, an H.P. Mendoza film

$52,086

240

We've almost reached our $50k stretch goal! THANKS to everyone who pledged their support! And also a special THANKS to all of you who continue to share with your family, friends, and community.

Reaching these stretch goals allows the Bitter Melon team to do SO. MUCH. MORE! Read below to see what else we can do—with your help.

 

Bitter Melon is a dark comedy that tackles domestic abuse, toxic masculinity, misogyny and homophobia – all told by a predominantly Filipino-American cast, and written/directed by a gay Filipino-American. It's 2017, and the time is right for queer voices and stories from people of color to move to the front of the line.

Here's a video of the cast discussing the significance of stories like Bitter Melon:

 

 

 Bitter Melon is the third feature film from filmmaker H.P. Mendoza (Colma: The Musical, Fruit Fly, I Am a Ghost). It is the story of a Filipino-American family who reunites for a Christmas party at the family home in San Francisco only to find out that Troy, the second oldest child, has been ruling the house with fear—intimidating everyone who lives there—including his mother, and even physically abusing his wife. What starts as a fun holiday reunion turns into a darkly humorous crime scene as Declan, the youngest son, leads the family as they conspire on how to best murder the violent and abusive Troy.

The Bitter Melon cast (clockwise, from top left): Jon Norman Schneider, Patrick Epino, Brian Rivera, Theresa Navarro, L.A. Renigen, Anna Ishida, Christian Cagigal
The Bitter Melon cast (clockwise, from top left): Jon Norman Schneider, Patrick Epino, Brian Rivera, Theresa Navarro, L.A. Renigen, Anna Ishida, Christian Cagigal

 The film will be in English and Ilocano, the third most used language in the Philippines and the language of my family. It's important to me that we cast Ilocano speakers because Ilocano is often referred to as "too native" or "low-class" (as opposed to the more familiar Tagalog). Ilocano is also the language of the epic poem, "Biag ni Lamang" - the oldest story from the Philippines to not be lost or destroyed during colonialism; a story about the importance of loyalty and family. And while it is the one of the oldest and the third most spoken language in the Philippines, local studies have shown that the disappearing language is still. at. risk. And I want it in my movie. :)

That's me, the writer/director of this film! In 2006, I wrote/composed/acted in the Gotham and Independent Spirit Award nominated Colma: The Musical, a New York Times Critic's Pick for being "an itty-bitty film with a great big heart". Since then, I've been creating films and media that speak to my predilections (musicals, horror films, magic, politics and video games, to name a few) and I've been committed to scrappily making these films within the independent world. After all, for as long as I have free reign, why on earth would I make a film that someone else already made? (That's a "safe-for-work" version of what I said at my acceptance speech at the SF Film Society.)
 

Now that the script and cast is taken care of, we are at the point where we need more money. This process is far from cheap, and the expenses add up quickly. We are lucky enough to have an experienced team of passionate filmmakers backing the project already, leading the way as we barrel toward our first day on set. I will be supported by Sundance veteran Brian Benson (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, La Mission, Howl) and Mark Del Lima (Fruit Fly, I Am a Ghost) as the two lead producers. We plan on taking our film to as many major festivals in the US as possible.

Even though we have enough money to go in production, the bulk of this money will go toward post production. The reach of this film is somewhat limited to the amount of work that is put into things like sound design, color grading, and editing.

And since Bitter Melon is a smaller production, marketing the film will be critical to its success. Things like submitting to festivals, attending festivals, organizing screenings, and campaigning for distribution deals will get expensive. With the generous help of our supporters, we are confident that this film will reach a large audience.

Please check out our Storyboard Trailer below to get an idea of our vision for the film. 

 (NOTE: This is not an animated film. These are just concept drawings.)  

 

Wait, tell me again why I’m doing this? 


Because you believe in the project. Because you know that the first stages of creating a movie like this are the most crucial, and your fiscal support can get it there and give it the needed momentum to blossom into the final feature. Plus, look at the rewards! 

Can I increase my pledge once it’s been made? 

Absolutely! After donating, you may want to change your incentive reward to a different one, or increase your pledge amount. To do so, go to Kickstarter and sign in. If you go to our campaign page, the green “Back This Project” button has been replaced with a blue “Manage My Pledge” button. Click it and you can enter a new amount, or choose a new incentive. 

Is the pledge amount publicly displayed?

No. Only you and the project owner will be able to see your pledge amount.

What’s all-or-nothing funding all about? 

If we reach our goal, then your credit card is charged. If we don’t, then it isn’t. 

How can we stay in touch? 

Send us an email through this Kickstarter profile. We will be sending updates during production as well as post-production.

Risks and challenges

Bitter Melon is a script that takes place in San Francisco with 27 speaking parts and lots of locations. This means that production delays are the biggest risk. Our team is working tirelessly to ensure that we have enough lead time for the riskier/bolder moments in the film while also having equally impressive contingency plans.

Another risk is robbery. Bay Area filmmaking has become a little scarier in recent weeks due to robberies and fatal shootings. It is IMPORTANT to us that we have police support and security during the film's shoot. No one's life is worth the risk.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    SUPPORTER

    By pledging $10, you become a SUPPORTER of ours as we commit the crime of filmmaking. You'll get updates via our Kickstarter page during the film's production as well as post-production as we craft our way toward a finished feature film!

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    ENABLER

    By pledging $25, you become an ENABLER in our little criminal film family. You'll get updates about the film's production and post-production AND you'll get a shout-out tweet to you and/or your organization/business!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    FACILITATOR

    By pledging $50, you become a FACILITATOR. Besides getting updates from our production and getting a tweet shout out to yourself or your organization, you'll also get a shareable social media video shoutout from the set of BITTER MELON dedicated to you, your organization or your business.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    ACCESSORY

    By pledging $100 you become an ACCESSORY. There's no backing out now. We will show our appreciation with a mention of your name in the film credits.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    ACCOMPLICE

    For a $250 pledge, there's no escape. You become family, which includes all the rewards from above, plus an invitation to a special San Francisco BITTER MELON screening with the Cast and Crew!

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    AIDER & ABETTOR

    With this gift you are helping us connect the dots and in return you will get our loyalty, which includes all the rewards from above—PLUS the BITTER MELON Art Dept. will create an 8-bit videogame character based on you!

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    CO-CONSPIRATOR

    By pledging $1000, you'll get all of the rewards from above PLUS - H.P. will write and record a SONG about you! (And you'll receive a MP3 release of all the other "Co-Conspirator" songs.) He'll do it for you...all for you...

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    PERPETRATOR

    By pledging $5000, you get every reward from above, PLUS a private screening with H.P. Mendoza and any of his films. During the film, he can give you live commentary, or you can engage in a real-time Q&A, or you can watch the film quietly and have the talkback after the film like your own private film festival!

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    PRINCIPAL MASTERMIND

    By giving such a generous amount you would get EVERY REWARD mentioned above PLUS you will be named EXECUTIVE PRODUCER of Bitter Melon, and have your name listed on its own screen in the credits!

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Funding period

- (60 days)