ABOUT THE FILM
A rebellious teenager, a hardcore gang member, and an idealistic cop risk everything to find their place in the world.
Writer/Director Moritz Rechenberg first took interest in street gang kids in late 2007 when he was searching for a subject matter for his next short film, Ticked. While skimming the Los Angeles Times an article about racially motivated gang killings grabbed his attention. Driven by a desire to tell the story of kids who are left to themselves, turn to the street and take up arms to shoot at their perceived enemy he needed to thoroughly educate himself and dedicate his time and resources to making a film against forgetting.
Rechenberg took his research and wrote an outline of a screenplay, which was then developed in collaboration with kids from the Teen Club at Hazard Park in East Los Angeles. Ticked was shot over the course of six weeks in the summer of 2008. For Rechenberg this revelatory, community-based experience only brought him closer to the struggle of the Homies. To dig deeper into the issue of gang-related youth violence he expanded his research and developed the feature film that would become I Am Gangster. For both films the participation of community members as well as former and occasionally active gang members was essential on many levels from story development, location scouting and on-screen talent. Besides lending an inimitable character and level of authenticity to the film these positions offered employment, a positive work experience and Rechenberg hopes it created an opportunity for healing through active reflection.
Rechenberg and the film’s Director of Photography Lyn Moncrief worked without a storyboard to approach each scene as open-minded as possible. Leaving enough room to let the beauty of the mundane show they wanted to cover each scene with a certain efficiency; not to create long shots for the sake of spectacle but to give Moncrief and Rechenberg the freedom to organically block a scene and to give the actors the opportunity to thrive and improvise. While several months were spent coaching first-time actors to give them the comfort needed to perform under pressure and in front of a camera, most dialogue was written, rewritten and improvised on set as they went along. Rechenberg says: “It’s a risky technique but the level of artistic spontaneity, this instinctual kind of process, was not just thrilling and artistically fulfilling but necessary to achieve the naturalistic feel of the mise en scéne.”
Written and Directed by
and MARK McKEOWN
and KELLY PARKER
Director of Photography
ZORA DeHORTER, CSA
VICTOR A. SANDOVAL
Original Music by