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We had a chance to interview rising star director Alex Kahuam and we talk about his career, inspirations, and upcoming project SO, YOU WANT TO BE A GANGSTER? and much more.

Nuke The Fridge:  You have a long history here of creating film and writing the film but before we get to your latest project, could we talk a little bit about how you got started with your career – with writing and filmmaking?

Alex Kahuam:  Sure man, so I started super young when I was 12 years old.  I started to make certain experiments with films.  It all started at school because there was a teacher who let us basically a homework and a title of kidnapping and I just raised my hand and I was like ok.  Let me get together with my friends and we just gathered and I didn’t know how to shoot anything.  We started with a video cassette.  You know the old school ones.  We made a short through all that and then along with a friend called Diego Cacho that started to make shorts with me.  We actually made like about 25-30 short films.  Then I enrolled in film school in Mexico City.  I didn’t last a long time. I was just there for one month because I didn’t like the film school and after that, I made my first amateur indy feature film Escondida, which is about a kidnapping. We were able to screen it into theaters in Mexico City. It was really cool.  There was like 180 people and I was like really nervous about it because I was 18 years old and I never screened anything in my life. It turned out to be good. The response from people and then I would like to make it bigger now.  That’s why I moved to Los Angeles and started to shoot on films-  16mm, the 35 mm, and then eventually switched to digital. It’s another language, film than digital.  I really enjoy working on film.

Q: Awesome, among the short films, I read about you.  El Sequestro, The Kidnapping, you made that one at the age of 12?

Alex Kahuam:  Yes, that’s correct

Q: Did you ever think of- Now that there are way more opportunities right now of bringing some of those short films back and making them full length?

Alex Kahuam: Yes, actually the movie feature I made that is called Con Vida was based actually on a short film and now I’m actually bringing the remake in English.  I want to shoot a concept in the next month in English here in Los Angeles. I want to get funds for the feature, hopefully. I’m going to change the style, how to shoot it cause the original idea was to shoot a found footage.  Now I want to, I would say half, half or like less found footage sand more cinematic, you know. Some other cinematic directors like long takes when it makes sense. Like Alfonso Cuarón. That guy is a genius.  So I like long takes like that. It’s really cool.

Q: Amazing, you mentioned a few directors that inspire you.  Have you met him?

Alex Kahuam: Have I met them?

Q: Yea, have you met any inspirational directors?  People that inspired you as a kid and have you gotten a change to meet them, here in the states?

Alex Kahuam: Yes, I met Nicolas Winding Refn.  He did Drive.   I really like that director, I think he’s awesome.  I met Nicolas.  Real cool guy.   I meet him here and also met him at Cannes.  I didn’t meet him but saw Alfonso Cuarón. But like to talk to him.  I’d also like to see Edgar Wright.  The guy that directed Baby Driver– right now its out in theaters.  I think he’s great. He’s really, really good.

Q: You’re originally from Mexico City and what are your friends thinking now that you’re over here making such great strides in your career.  Do you keep in touch?  What kind of feedback are you getting from the Mexican people?

Alex Kahuam: Yea, we keep in touch and they are very fascinated by all these things.  And actually, the guys who help me on the short films, now they are like wow you are making, you know, bigger films.  They are very excited for the films.  Yea, I keep in touch because they are my friends from all my life.  They have nothing to do with the film industry.  They are lawyers, some are architects, but they really love movies. They are always asking how are my projects.  I am very thankful to them because they actually help me when I was a kid and they never said no or they were there for me.  From when we were kids to now.  They are very fascinated with filmmaking.  It’s very cool.

Q: Your next project looks really good.  I had a chance to check out the trailer.  It’s going to be on VDO (Video on Demand), It’s So, You Wanna Be A Gangster?.  This looks really, really exciting. My type of film.  You know, gangster action flick. Could you talk a little about creating that one and the story line?

Alex Kahuam: Thank you.  So we screen that with the short films that started just like a small short them we got great responses from Cannes Film Festival.  Then I was able to get some private funds from Mexico City.  I pitched the film and they gave me the funds that I needed.  I have some friends here that are White but they’re Mexican. So, when we were talking and speaking Spanish a lot of people were staring at us.  So I was like why are they staring at us and I was new in town.  So, they kept explaining to me that I’m weird here in Los Angeles or in the US. I was like what?! Because in Mexico City there’s a lot of white people.  I was very fascinated with that response the people were having so I wanted to make a movie about a White Mexican.  He not only believes he’s Mexican and he’s at the wrong time.  He will eventually get kidnapped.  He will be taken and held by a Japanese guy who doesn’t speak any English at all and some other dude.  So there’s a language barrier there.  They want to escape but they don’t know how to communicate and there’s like this language barrier that happened to me here once because I always write about my personal life in my scripts.   So,  I was able to put comedy and action. We shot it here in LA in 3 weeks.  It was really fast. It’s an hour and 42 minutes. So I think everybody did great.  Yea, it was really cool to shoot it.  There’s always stress but it’s a fun stress.  I enjoyed it a lot.  It was a really cool experience to shoot it.

You can follow Alex on Social Media:

Facebook/IG/Twitter: @AlexKahuam

Bio:

Born in Mexico City, Alex Kahuam is the 3rd generation of a Lebanese family who established itself in Mexico. Always curious about the film-making process, he shot his first short “El Secuestro” (The Kidnapping) at age 12 for a school assignment that dealt with the topic. Improvising as he went along, he used firecrackers to simulate explosions and used his friends as actors and received an A+ for such a realistic final project.

He continued making films along with his friend Diego Cacho who served as co-director and editor and had 11 shorts by the time he was 17. After completing high school, Diego traveled to Austin to further his studies in filmmaking and due to the geographical separation from his friend, Alex had to learn how to edit and completed an additional six films.

Alex continued his studies and enrolled in film school in Mexico City, but dropped out after a month due to poor teaching methods. He then went on to write his first feature “Escondida”, which he shot when he was 18 years old. The found-footage film also deal with kidnapping and in addition to writing it, he also served as director, producer and director of photography. He learned so much during the shoot that he often says that the process was a sort of “film school” for him.


In 2012 he moved to Los Angeles to continue learning and improve his craft. He met one of his closest collaborators to date, Director of Photography, Dan Wang. Later that year, he completed his first professional short titled, “So, You Want To Be A Gangster?” which was accepted at Cannes Film Festival in the category of Short-Film Corner in 2014. He then did another short called “What’s in the Case?” along with Dan.

Wanting to pursue a second feature film, Alex began writing and while doing so realized that he had been writing the feature-length version of “So, You Want To Be A Gangster?”, which he completed at age 21. He teamed up with other filmmaker friends and raised money from various investors in Mexico City. Collaborating with Director of Photography, Diego Gilly in this project and using the same actors from his previous short, he shot the film in three weeks. The film will be released on VOD in September 2017. Alex is currently developing his next feature film.