February ‘16
The Scribbler of Magic Realism

February ‘16
Tamer Habib
Tamer Habib


From the fusion of drama, romance and social reality comes his secret potion that witch crafts the alchemy of our daily lives. Tamer Habib is not a regular ink slinger, but a crackerjack of magic realism!

What attracted you to script writing and why are you more involved in romantic and social dramas?

Writing has always been my favourite hobby. Since I was a little boy, I used to read novels and turn the chapters into scenes; this was even before I knew that this is called script writing. I was a little confused in the beginning, I mean, I love cinema and art in general, so I thought I could be an actor then I decided to study directing to be involved in the entire process. When I started to understand the entire process of Cinema production I decided to be a scriptwriter. Why romantic and social dramas? Again I believe it has to do with what I like, I like romantic and social movies more than others. I am more involved into humanistic stories.

Would you ever consider examining your skill in a different genre?

I long to write all genres and this is what I am trying to do this year with ‘Grand Hotel’. The series has a major romantic line in it with normal social relationships and a touch of thriller and suspense.

Despite the fact that all your projects have boomed they are so limited…

I can’t work on something just because I need to work. I can’t work just for being there; I must have a story or something I need to deliver in order to work. Maybe this is not so professional but this is me. I believe that because I am very selective people are pleased with what I do.

What does having your first movie as a scriptwriter ‘Sahar Elayaly’ (Sleepless Nights) nominated for the Oscars’ semi finals means to you?

This movie is very special to me as it was my first script to be turned into a movie. It’s not my first baby; I had another two projects ready before it that were not complete due to production issues. I was a little down yet I started writing Sleepless Nights although I was sure it would never turn into a movie because back then the trend was comedy. On the other hand I was writing a social romantic drama with eight different characters and this type didn’t attract producers yet I felt I wanted to write this movie regardless the consequences. To my surprise we started shooting without knowing what was going to happen or how people will react to it and there it caused a huge boom and surpassed all our expectations. Artistically all critics praised the movie and commercially audiences loved it as well. When I learnt that the movie was chosen for the Oscars semi finals it was such a beautiful shock that made me very happy.

When it comes to the Egyptian cinema there are two schools of writing a script, either to have one that is tailored for a specific celebrity or another that is written freely? What’s your opinion regarding both schools?

Now we are working under bad circumstances and we are bound to certain production strategies so sometimes what pushes or guarantees success is having big celebrities. Personally, I prefer to go with the rhythm of the script I am working on and then choose who suits which role. But let me be honest with you, it happened with me more than once that I already envisioned who will play a certain character before even writing the script. When this happens with acting moguls like Yussra, I know that she has the ability to incarnate any role perfectly so this doesn’t bound me as a writer.

To what extent do you allow an actor or a director to interfere in what you wrote?

It is not a coincidence that we relate movies to the directors; at the end the director is the godfather of the movie. My working strategy includes having long meetings with the director to discuss our visions regarding the script and blend all our thoughts together until we reach a mutual agreement. After that, the director is free to do anything because I know he won’t surprise me with any decisions. I also like to listen to the actor because sometimes it happens that he has a suggestion I didn’t think of, it could be as simple as changing a word in the script or even a single detail in the character but at the end logic wins.

By Rania Ihab