By Marwa Azzab
Working as a film director abroad is a challenging experience. One must familiarise oneself with a new culture and a foreign environment, which requires a great deal of flexibility and determination
Mohamed Gomaa is one example of a promising Egyptian film director who work away from his homeland, having established himself in the field over past few years. He has directed a number of unique music videos for some of the foremost Arab singers, in addition to high-profile international TV commercials, short films, and documentaries. Real Dreams, his first feature film, won an Egyptian best director award in 2007.
“[Working abroad] was a chance for me to learn and acquire more experience. Film directing requires persistence, creativity and an imagination,” Gomaa said. “Shooting in different countries helped me build strong ideas about the human condition, as well as capacity for demanding process of filmmaking.”
Speaking of his work, Gomaa continued, saying: “A film or video clip director must take on the challenge of telling a story via images and sounds each time a movie or a music video is made. This process is called visualisation, and occurs alongside the crew and actors who will bring it to life through their performance, to be able to produce a successful piece of art.”
Turning historical events into a drama is never an easy track, especially if you are filming the history of foreign countries. Filmmakers need enough time to explore leads and confirm information, making the process at times frustrating, intimidating, and rife with drawbacks for even the most experienced filmmakers.
“I consider ‘The Union Story’ one of my biggest achievements; it marks the history of the Royal Zayed family,” he said. “It took huge efforts to turn the real story into a movie feature. I created the dramatic framework and chose the characters who will move the story forward to produce a satisfying movie.”
“My perspective, visual style and values were an integral part of this story; however, my priority was to present accurate facts and not fictional ones,” he said.
Further, Gomaa’s approach to filmmaking is partially dictated by his constant struggle to strike a balance between his creative direction and artistic vision, and the financial considerations of producing a film, which are not necessary separate aspects for him.
“I consider film financing the most creative part of a film. Throughout the course of production, the actual expenses should be consistent with the budget, to calculate the production’s accuracy in planning leading cast members, scale of special effects and approaches to international locations,” he explained.
Gomaa highlighted that being a film director is more than simply gaining technical know-how: “It is not about acquiring a specific amount of knowledge or using the latest techniques. You need to learn who you are, what you stand for, and how talented you are.”
“Directing is an appealing and competitive career field which requires continuous dedication, strong leadership skills, imaginative creativity, and a deep knowledge of the business of making movies,” he added.
In his influences, he said: “On career level, I was inspired by the American film director Robert Zemeckis. His films have given great importance to the use of special effects in order to bring his stories to life. For example, his phenomenal movie, ‘Forest Gump’, is an innovative story in which he introduced visual effects in ways that had not been done before.”
“Throughout my entire life, I was very much affected by the great Egyptian scientist and thinker Moustafa Mahmoud, whose television and books proved the strong bonds between scientific facts with Qura’nic facts,” he meanwhile noted of his life influences.
Gomaa hopes his upcoming work will take place in Egypt, in which he will direct and present his first television attempt, a biographic series on Moustafa Mahmoud which is expected to be screened in the holy month of Ramadan 2016.