Interview With Tony Mendoza | Producer and Filmmaker | High Speed Low Drag Podcast

tony mendoza filmmakerHigh Speed Low Dragís guest for today is no other than Tony Mendoza.

Tony is an active duty member of the Nevada Army National Guard. He is also a digital content producer in Las Vegas who shot his first feature film after returning from Afghanistan in 2010.

Tonyís goal is to teach film production full time after retiring from the service. With that introduction out of the way, letís learn more about High Speed Low Dragís guest.


Click here to listen to†Interview With Tony Mendoza | Producer and Filmmaker on Stitcher

Click here to listen to Interview With Tony Mendoza | Producer and Filmmaker on Itunes


HSLD: Can you take a minute and tell us a little about yourself?

Tony: I am a full time member of the Nevada National Army Guard. Iíve been an active member for about 16 years or so.

When I returned back from Afghanistan in 2010, I was able to produce my first feature film. I also did all of the pre-production for that piece in Afghanistan so I literally casted, sent scripts back and forth and put people in place so when I hit the ground I was pretty much in production three weeks right after I got home.

Outside of that, Iím like a fifteen-year old college student. Between appointments and mobilizations I graduated from film school this last semester. Iíve also been doing different forms of digital content creation and now that Iím located in Las Vegas Nevada, Iím starting to move more into the producerís side which involves putting pieces together instead of just lugging cameras around.


HSLD: Do you have a success quote that you live by?

Tony: This success quote is from one of my drill sergeant back in Fort Seal, back in 1997. What he said that has impacted my life even today was this:

Shut your sock hole and get across that rope

Believe it or not, what he did in that experience on that rope has dramatically affected how I conduct both personal and professional business in my life.


HSLD: Can you take us to a moment in your military experience that you would consider as your most pivotal moment and how that shaped you just in general?

Tony: Basically I grew up an average kid and wasnít super athletic.

I struggled like every adolescent boy in trying to figure out who I was so to fast forward it, I was in Fort Seal in 1997 and itís so hot. We had to do one of our obstacle courses and I was next up in line to climb up that stairs and was met with a rope that probably traversed 30 or 40 feet across this river that was about 20 to 30 feet below.

When I popped up on the rope, I looked in front of me and looked down and saw the river and I immediately turned around to my drill sergeant who was just very violent and very ugly. He looked like a pit bull and was just a very mean and harsh drill sergeant.

When I turned around he was standing right next to me and I started to say that I couldnít climb the rope. Before I could even get the words right out of my mouth he was right in my face telling me off. He just started to tongue lash me and degrade me but he was actually motivating me.

At that point I knew that the option of quitting was eliminated. I got up on that rope and got across.

When I hit the dirt the very first thing that crossed my mind was that ďI can go to collegeĒ.†

It sounds kind of weird given all of the screaming and chaos but for a very long time up until that point I had always thought I wasnít smart as I was a C-average student.

My mother was a teacher who emphasized education but I really wasnít into it but that drill sergeant removed the option of quitting and failure unlocked something in me.


HSLD: Take us to that moment when you realized that film was something that you wanted to do. Take us to the steps that you took to turn that into the success that it is now.

tony mendoza directorTony: Just like every other veteran I acquired certain educational benefits and as I shared before I had never been much of an academic student.

I just found myself frustrated in the counselorís office one day in school.

I told her that all I wanted was to do something fun and collect my VA money after work. She talked to me a little bit about my interests and I got to telling her that I used to make home videos as a kid.

She talked to me about a film degree and I really wanted to punch myself right in the face because it had never occurred to me that there was such a thing.

I was 26 years old at this time so when I found out that there was this degree based on film I immediately decided to dabble into it.

As I started progressing through my classes and my degrees, I had the honor to work under a man named John Marsh who was an HBO producer.

This guy was ruthless and really beat me down semester after semester. He was always putting the pressure on me to see if I could make it.

Finally, in one of my final classes with him he looked through my film and said that I could go and make my movie. “You need to go and start making film”, he said.

When I got that comment from someone so accomplished, I realized that I had walked through the fire and that I could now go out and take it to the next level.

That experience told me that I was good at film. I had found it and I knew that I had to move forward with it.


HSLD: Do you think you could have put up with that kind of criticism if you had just been a civilian your whole life and had never gone through what you experienced in the military?


What I do now for the Nevada National Guard is that I take kids that get recruited by the recruiters that talk sweet and about the benefits. They come to me and my mission is M.A.P which stands for Mentally tough, Administratively correct and Physically fit.

For me to do my job correctly I have to be the closest thing to the training environment to essentially prepare them for war. I have to train these men to make a decision and to be successful.


It is better to attempt to reach for something and not get it than never try at all.

The military has toughened my skin, thickened my skin and has shown me that even when something is hard you can still accomplish a goal.


HSLD: Share with us the one thing that has you most fired up today.

Tony: Itís really two things combined in one.Tony Mendoza Films

Scott McMahn is the founder of film trooper and we met online and talked about developing business. So many filmmakers go broke because they are more concerned about the art than trying to make money.

Scott and I want to be able to effectively tell a story through film while still being able to conduct a successful and lucrative business in a proper way.

With that said, Scott has served as a mentor to me as I move more into producing digital content here in Las Vegas.

The term producer can be very vague but what I do is put together parts and pieces for other people when they have projects.

One thing that I have been getting good feedback on is reaching out to people with more notoriety and getting responses of them wanting to work with me.


Tonyís Lighting Round Answers:†

  • What business advice would you pass along to those who are making the transition right now? There are two different pieces of advice I would like to give. First is to watch how youíre speaking to folks in terms of your presentation. Second is face-to-face interaction creates more impact compared to a phone call or an email.
  • What is one of your habits that contribute to your success? Get up early and decide to put good, fresh things on my mind rather than negativity.
  • What is one parting piece of guidance that you can share to High Speed Nation listeners and how can they connect with you? My parting advice: You need to discover your passion and pursue it with military response and intestinal fortitude and you will find success.

You can see what I do by visiting my website:

Click here to listen to†Interview With Tony Mendoza | Producer and Filmmaker on Stitcher

Click here to listen to Interview With Tony Mendoza | Producer and Filmmaker on Itunes