Shot in just three weeks, the dark comedy was inspired by the work of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Kahuam credits his education at NYFA and the amazing crew he met there for his success.
Kahuam wanted to explore a black-comedy action film. So, You Want to Be a Gangster? is a film about an unsuccessful actor named Victor, whose friends decide to enter him in a poker tournament to cheer him up — not realizing that the American mafia controls the game. When a fight breaks out, Victor is kidnapped and trapped inside a warehouse with the leader of the Yakuza and the head of a Mexican cartel.
“I wanted to make something similar to my idols,” Kahuam says, pointing to his influences. “They make fun of reality, but at the same time manage to have some sort of political or moral message in the end.”
For a true homage, Kahuam filmed So, You Want to Be a Gangster? in the same style as his cinematic heroes, implementing long takes.
Long takes are challenging for a number of reasons: The actors have to nail every line of dialogue and every part of the blocking, the lighting has to be perfect throughout the entire shot, and crews will go through multiple tests to make sure everything runs smoothly.
With such a short production schedule, Kahuam had to think and move quickly.
“We didn’t have that luxury of time but we were able to manage,” explains Kahuam. “You have to be able to show your cast and crew that everything is okay. As the director, you’re the captain. Everyone is looking at you.”
Kahuam says he was driven by this challenge. “We had long, complicated action scenes, stunts, pyrotechnicians, blood, makeup, prosthetics, squibs, etc. All those things that I just mentioned take a lot of time to coordinate and execute. I think the cast and crew did an awesome job. I’m really happy with the results.”
Kahuam credits his education at NYFA with his ability to cope with the demanding schedule.
“NYFA really instills two things in its students,” he says. “The first is teamwork. The second is to use the time at school to make mistakes.”
Kahuam went on to explain that making mistakes in a safe environment allowed him to learn more quickly: “When you’re making a feature, you don’t have time to make mistakes. You can only rely on the team that is surrounding you.”
Kahuam has been excited to share So, You Want to Be a Gangster? with audiences around the world. Now, distribution with Amazon has allowed him to attain this goal.
The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Kahuam on all of his success. We look forward to the next project!