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Santa Clara Filmmaker Brings the Dark Side of Human Phenomena to Light

Santa Clara-based filmmaker Raphael Mallari uses his craft to shed light on the dark side of human phenomena such as mukbang and sleep paralysis.

“A lot of the films that I work on tend to be dark dramas or suspense films,” said Mallari. “As a filmmaker, I want to take the dark, sometimes mundane, aspects of life and bring them to the light of the narrative film world.”

Mallari, a native Californian who has lived in Santa Clara since about 2005,  is a 2012 graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose. He graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2016 with a BA Degree in Film and Digital Media and has his own media company: Nyoo Media (www.nyoomedia.com).

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Lucid, his current film short, is his final project for his MFA in Cinema at San Francisco State University. In this fictional story, a high school student with high stress, experiences an episode of sleep paralysis. This is the experience when falling asleep or waking up, of being aware but unable to move or speak.

Although not life threatening, sleep paralysis can be haunting, even horrifying. It can arouse feelings of a threatening presence in the room, pressure on the chest or an outside-the-body experience

Mallari has experienced sleep paralysis a few times himself. In researching it, he decided on using film to shed light on how stress can contribute to its occurrence.

“What are we doing to ourselves that compromises our own mental health or peace of mind?  [This is one of] the rhetorical questions the film presents the audience,” said Mallari.

He produced Lucid with a limited budget as a five-minute spec film.

Mallari began making films for fun with friends while growing up in Santa Clara and pursued this interest in high school.

“I enjoyed the process of making videos, so I decided to pursue it further at Mitty, operating as an ASB Media Coordinator,” said Mallari. “I made internal video ads for school events, such as student activities, sports, fundraisers and performances.”

His 2017 film Love for Food (2017) was screened at the prestigious 2019 Silicon Valley Cinequest. It’s a drama about an Asian American immigrant who livestreams herself eating in order to cope with separation from her family and make money.

Livestreaming oneself eating — usually excessive amounts — is a webcast trend called “mukbang,” which started in South Korea in 2010. It caught on in the U.S. in 2015.

Mallari, who has been directing and producing films for eight years, believes editing is one of the most important aspects of filmmaking. It is “the ultimate deciding factor on how a project is going to turn out.”

“I want people to reflect with the character’s decisions in a film and relate to the character’s conflict. Ultimately, I want the audience leaving the movie still thinking,” said Mallari.

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