THE CINEMA INDUSTRY IN EGYPT IS FACING TOUGH SLEDDING, WHAT’S THE IMPORTANCE OF INTRODUCING NEW GENRES IN THIS CRUCIAL TIME?
New faces behind and in front of the camera, including but not limited to actors and directors. Introducing new production houses is also very important. Trying out new ideas and concepts, basically everything new and untried! I really think Egypt is on the brink of cinematic renaissance.
WHEN CHOOSING THE CAST OF HEPTA, WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURE OR CHARACTER THE ACTOR/ACTRESS HAD TO POSSESS?
They have to understand the history of the character and the incidents around him/her and understand that each possesses its own set of mixed feelings so as to portray that image clearly. That’s all it takes for an actor/actress to master their part in my book.
YOU DIRECTED A ROMANTIC DRAMA AND A THRILLER, WHICH GENRE IS CLOSEST TO YOUR HEART AND WHY?
Drama is much more interesting for me as a director, because coveys a lot of cathartic emotions. It is both more interesting and more challenging to me.
WHAT DO YOU THINK WAS THE MAIN MESSAGE OF LAMO’AGHZA (EXCUSE MY FRENCH)?
It was a fun film for us as a company and for me as a producer. But I was not the director, so I don’t feel like it was mine. As for the main message, you’d have to ask the director!
YOU ACTED IN DEHK WE LEAB WE GAD WE HOB BEFORE, WHICH DO YOU, THINK IS MORE CHALLENGING, ACTING OR DIRECTING?
Acting was basically an experimental phase in my life. I enjoyed it but there is nothing I enjoy more than directing. As for which is more difficult, it’s definitely directing. But it’s as enjoyable as it is challenging, one could say.
WARDA WAS YOUR SECOND DIRECTORIAL DEBUT IN CINEMA, WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THIS PROJECT?
The idea of directing a horror film is what attracted me. And as I said before, I like to take risks, so I employed new faces. I find it was successful even though it did not exactly break records in the box office. But that’s because lesser audience is drawn to horror films, especially an Egyptian one.
Do you think being a partner in a production company helps you in highlighting your own vision as a director?
Having my own production house definitely helped things go my way. But at the same time, it’s not as good as when you start working on the project having two hats: The hat of a producer and a hat of a director, and this is not where the fun is. The fun is when you push and start the project and get to see the end result.
Directing the presidential campaign for President Abdulfatah El Sisi, how does that fit in with the list of projects you have done?
Quality-wise, I love it. It turned out very true and very real. And it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
Wahid Sahih (A Whole One) won Best Directorial Debut from the Egyptian National Film Centre and it was the festival opener at DIFF 2011; did you expect this kind of success when making your first movie?
As odd as it sounds, I did. I was happy with the way it turned out and I knew it was going to be a huge success. Nonetheless, I was ecstatic to know it was chosen for the Dubai Film Festival as the opening film. The film is truly one of my favorites.
You directed the first TV series in Egypt, Private Screening, what were you expecting the series to achieve and what was the feedback?
I produced and directed it. The way I see it, it affected the targeted age the way I initially planned. I wanted to do something different and we wanted to try using a different medium if you may call it so. I made into a weekly show that people can watch and follow, but I think that this is where we had some bumps, because people don’t usually appreciate a weekly show. But I think It was overall successful.
Do you think that being a director was your fate, growing up in an artistic family and all?
Most definitely. Growing up when I was living with my brother, Sameh El Bagoury who studied directing and scriptwriting in the United States, would be proof. I used to self-teach and watch all the films he studied; lots of Woody Allen movies; lots of Scorsese’s, and lots of Cutting Club. Moreover, my family is overall quite into Art, so that did its part as well.
Why the switch from directing music videos and TV commercials to directing TV series and movies?
I cannot say I “switched” as I did not stop doing TV commercials and music videos. I’d go as far as saying it’s my source of living rather than directing movies. Let’s just say I have reached a point where I decided to look for something else to do in order to fulfill me. So, I looked for new projects and the first one was Private Screening, the movie. I’ve grown to enjoy directing movies more than anything else, but I feel more comfortable going crazy with commercials and series.
Would you call taking risks and jumping into challenging projects a passion of yours and did that ever make you afraid?
I have never feared it, but it is certainly something I’ve always looked for in my projects. It’s the muse I’ve found since I was only five. Not just from films, but from advertisements and music videos as well. I like how each is taken from a different perspective by a different director. I do like to take risks and try new things and start new projects. Kind of like I did with A’rd Khas (Private Screening) and was it a total risk! I think Warda and Hepta could also be regarded as risks I took, but with no regrets.
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