Where are you based and how did you first get into this line of work?
I live in Cairo, Egypt. I graduated from Faculty Of Applied Arts (Photography, Cinema and T.V. Department).
The first story I documented was in college, it was about a homeless woman who lives in her father’s grave and it was very touching and people knew about her through my photos, this made me believe in my role as a storyteller.
How did you get the Bekia || Short Film project?
I was a trainee on set in a shooting for an Egyptian/Kuwaiti series, the director and the CEO of the production company saw my portfolio and they believed I am capable of directing this project.
I took the brief from the clients, I can share it with you:
The Egyptian Ministry of Culture have announced “Roba becciah: The Informal City” as the theme of the Egyptian pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.
The International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale is a flagship event, held every two years, alternating with the International Art Exhibition.
Scope of work:
After our the last meeting and discussion with the president of NOUH: National Organization of Urban Harmony and due to the limited budget for the Pavilion we decided to go for one short movie, maximum 4-5 minutes to highlight the Robabecciah lifestyle in Egypt.
The Movie is like a trailer to highlight the Roababeciah life style in Egypt.
The Movie will be projected on the wall during the Bienallie.
Duration: 4-5 Minutes
Languages in which film is to be made: Arabic with Soundtrack to match with robabeciah style
Target Audience: Mix of different nationalities most probably will be Architects.”
So after I read the brief I wanted to show the lifestyle of Robabekia through a touching story so people can connect with it.
What gear/cameras did you use and why?
It was a low budget project so the DOP and I decided to go with Sony A7S II and Canon Cine Primes, we didn’t use any artificial lighting.
Did you plan out the story structure from the beginning or did it come out in post?
So first thing I thought of telling the story from the item’s perspective and make it the main subject of the story and actually this was the first pitch, and they liked it a lot but I had this feeling that it needed something more powerful so after some research, I thought about this story where the main character is the seller.
I was inspired by this seller that I saw in a documentary who has a great passion for old stuff and he loved collecting them even though he was poor and needed the money, I wanted people to see this side of Robabekian sellers.
I wanted this film to feel genuine and authentic so I asked for real Robabekia sellers to act in the film.
I was scared because they’re not professional actors, I thought we’d run out of time or they would sound fake, but they surprised me, I gave them a general direction and the whole thing was unscripted and improvised.
I planned to shoot each scene with different angles and takes, but on set I knew that 50% of this film is based on improvisation and I’m working with non-actors, so they can’t act the same in different takes and it would be so hard in post-production, and it would sound different in each angle as well, because the whole thing was unscripted as I said before, plus the time was running out so we had to shoot each scene in only one shot, so in the post-production I came up with this way of editing.
What do you do differently from other filmmakers?
I have passion for picturing feelings in frames, seeking perfection and always looking for high visual standards.
If you had to go back and do it all again, how would you get a foothold in the business?
I don’t think that I would change anything in that matter.
But if you ask me if I had to go back and do this film all again it think that I would add a little girl as his daughter in his small house or make the feeling of him returning to a family.
What’s the one secret tip go-trick that you use often that takes your work to the next level?
Always make a Mini shot list, so if time runs out for any reason you can have the main shots for making the film prepared.
What is currently the hardest part of doing what you do?
Pre-production and crafting the story.
What is currently the best part of doing what you do?
Looking at the monitor while shooting and watching the image identical to what I had in my mind as well as post-production and seeing the whole idea coming to life.