Only few people go from unknown to icon overnight, but the whole cast of 3ard Khas achieved the near impossible by bursting out with this new groundbreaking series that mixes fact and fiction, embodying show business with all its difficulties to reach the dream of fame. Five young aspiring actors are given the chance to pursue their calling and so the story begins with a special proposal “3ard Khas”.
Directed by Hady El Bagoury using 16mm cameras typical for cinema, 3ard Khass is surely a new and exciting drama experience on our screens. Dr. Ezzat Abu Ouf plays himself mentoring the five young actors in a workshop they have been chosen for among endless applicants. Each one of them coming from different professions with the dream of being professional actors and so their struggle begins.
With cameos of super stars such as Hend Sabry, Asser Yassin and Tarek El Erian, 3ard Khass is a new kind of TV experience aired Friday night on Abu Dhabi Oula. We met with the director and cast on the set of 3ard Khas where we talked ambition, cinema and revolution.
Hady El Bagoury
One of the Middle East’s most creative directors is Hady El Bagoury whose first drama series experience definitely stands out. Bagoury is taking the audience to an open mind adventure shunning from cliché scripts, techniques, locations and acting; to create series to be the talk of the town.
He gets himself involved with every detail on the set with his visionary quest identity, signature sense of humor and hip R’n’B hats. 3ard Khas is the first project to come to our home screens to talk about showbiz tackling its entry routes, success, fear, tears and challenges. “During my work as a director in the advertising field, I’ve seen a lot of people who want to pursue a career in acting and the number of people who want to act made me think about making a project tackling the world of showbiz which a lot of people want to know about. I see a number of people rushing towards their screens to see the making of a certain movie and that means that people are becoming interested to know what’s behind the scenes which is what 3ard Khas will show. Obviously it relates to youth but also their parents and the whole neighborhood. The grocery guy is very interested in this young man who wants to be an actor. We filmed in most places young people go to like ‘Sakia Cultural Wheel’ so you’d say ‘I’ve been there I know this place’; TV today is a big liar and we wanted to do a different setting like the workshop where most of the scenes are shot. I didn’t want to build a setting or a location from scratch the main setting was an empty house and I had a vision which I passed to the art director. There is also the coffee shop setting in the location where many scenes are shot which is so cool and makes you relate to the serial. You will have a favorite character from the five and if you hate one it’s totally fine, you’ll just live with the characters”, he explains.
With so much satellite channels on our menus, the drama scene in the region is intense and you can hardly recall the name of a serial, also the new trend of sitcoms is invading our TV culture and people are getting to try different tastes of TV entertainment. “Everyone thought about making sitcoms before Tamer and Shawkeya, but you can’t just follow the trend without being 100% professional. People take the trend and apply it without really knowing or being aware of what they’re doing, even if it’s a bad trend; they just tend to follow it. Without researching and a good strategy the project gets to fail. I know that after 3ard Khas people will start shooting with 16 mm cameras but it’s not only that which identifies a good project, all elements of making a good project should be coming together”, he points out.
The Egyptian viewer today is on the hunt for better quality similar to the ones he sees on international television “the viewer doesn’t know how to get it and he can tell clearly when the quality is good, we came to know this through ads and clips which were filmed with HD and digital techniques, so why should TV drama not be as qualitative?”. Working on a lot of talked about ads and video clips, El Bagoury is packed with experience that spread on his work in 3ard Khas; “ there are advantages of working on ads and clips which is you try a lot of things and techniques and all these experiences give you the guts to try new techniques. I wanted to work without a steady cam and hand held and everyone told me that it’s not possible and would only suit projects of 30 seconds, but I knew I could do it and I did it eventually. You try, test and apply and the thing comes to light. There are those types of directors, one who is known for camera movements, another known for his love for the actor and I think I’m a director who is interested in his actor. This project would have never come to light without a producer who perfectly understands what the director wants. If you would produce such quality the producer must know well what he’s working on and the chemistry between the director and the producer is a must”, he tells.
The series introduces us to the faces of some behind the camera personalities like famous directors and script writers whose work we love but are unfamiliar with their faces “I decided to use directors in another way by making them act in the serial, you’ll see directors like Tarek El Erian, Ahmed Youssry, Sandra Nahshaat, Ahmed Nader Galal, Ahmed Youssry also script writers will come on board like Mohamed Hefzy”.
With a degree in Hotel Management Bagoury worked his way into directing through production jobs until he founded his own company in 1991 and has been a director. “I worked with lots of different directors everyone with his own technique, a French director, another American; you work with various directors half of them are crazy; really crazy (laughs). There was this director who left me on the set because his wife was giving birth and never told me so I had to handle all myself. That makes you learn a lot”, he adds.
With a talent to burn and old school Hollywood looks, Fahmy is mining both acting and script writing; highlighting the multi faces of his art to prove that talent is where the sky is the limit. In 3ard Khas; we see him as a dentist who is struggling to prove his artistic potentials; which is not far from his real character. 3ard Khas came to him when he was selected amongst many nominees in a workshop by acting coach Marwa Gabriel and his first audition ever was that of 3ard Khas which appeared as a fortune cookie to wish him luck in entering the world he was so curious to get into; “growing up I wanted to become a dentist and I worked as a dentist before 3ard Khas and established my own clinic, but I knew I had a passion for acting and writing and I started following this passion”, Fahmy tells us. When Fahmy is not pulling a tooth from a patient, he’s probably flowing with his pen writing music, films and sitcoms, “ I was never that guy who stands in front of a mirror to rehearse, I work on myself a lot by watching different kinds of movies monitoring the performance and the scripts. I like Tarantino’s work a lot and Martin Scorsese was the last director who impressed me”. In school, Fahmy was introduced to acting through sketches and he began to give his talent a chance since he enjoyed playing around with characters “I was assigned to do a short play at school; we did the famous play of Madraset El Moshaghbeen and I did Adel Emam’s part which I enjoyed a lot. Our play didn’t win, but I was optimistic for real roles”.
As the brother of Waraet Shafra’s actor and scriptwriter Ahmed Fahmy, Karim has been totally independent when it came to showbiz entry routes “my brother didn’t help me to enter showbiz, not only that; but he also advised me not to enter and told me that it’s not worth it if I failed which will affect his success too. I didn’t listen and went to the workshop and when he came to see me in the premiere of 3ard Khas he hugged me and told me how much he was pleased with my performance”.
Like any other rising star, Fahmy’s zeal to play various characters is on the whim “don’t tell me its cliché but I’m an actor and whatever roles are offered to me I’ll consider them regardless of its genre”. “I’d love to work on scripts written by Ahmed Fahmy, Tamer Habib and Mohamed Hefzy. Their scripts really fit into today’s world and what I like about our script in 3ard Khas is that it speaks the language today’s youth really speak. Long gone are the days when we used to say “Eshta Tahn” and unfortunately we hear it in modern drama, come on people!”
Love scenes have their very own definition in Fahmy’s dictionary “look, this is how it goes, everyone has his own limitations and in my point of view; there are some love scenes that could be replaced by other options. I speak for myself, if I’m committed with a woman in real life, I wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings as there are various ways to show love scenes without physical attachment and some people take advantage of these scenes just to sell. Seriously, some movie makers cripple love scenes into filthy ones in trailers to sell their movies. Some people know how to make love scenes in very decent ways and others don’t. If I say that there is ‘Clean Cinema’ that means that there is a ‘Dirty’ one and unfortunately there is.” Fahmy’s artistic mission is designed to pop up with more surprises in the upcoming years and he assures us that he will try hard to never let us down.
Mustafa El Reedy
With acting, singing and advertising on his shoulders, Reedy is coming to us with full force. His voice we all know from various ad campaigns, promos and the like. “I used to do some funny videos at college mocking Tarek Nour ads and I got a call one day from Tarek Nour himself telling me that he heard of my work and liked it and wants me to work with him. I thought that someone was trying to mess with me and told him I don’t believe you’re Tarek Nour. When he began to talk seriously, I couldn’t believe myself, it was a major opportunity”, Reedy tells us. After two years of working with media tycoon Tarek Nour, Reedy became a powerhouse of creativity and business for one of Egypt’s most innovative creative agencies Fortune Promoseven. “I had to leave Tarek Nour as I wanted to start a private business and Promseven gave me ‘an offer you can’t refuse’ as Marlon Brando once said”. Working at Promoseven got Reedy in direct contact with a number of directors and when 3ard Khas was in the pipeline, a producer called him for an audition of a character similar to his real one which is a wild guy who works in the advertising field. “I used to do some amateur acting at Al Hanager for acting is a passion which I always wanted to follow. In Egypt, people get to think that an actor who sings or does some other artistic activities alongside acting isn’t professional; but that’s totally incorrect as you see America’s Got Talent is a very successful program that requires contestants to have a lot of artistic identities which is really great. I want to be that integrated artist”.
‘Alby El Youmein Dol’ is his first album which he spent 3 years preparing for. He composed and produced the entire album until Music Now Production came to rescue.
“I wrote and composed the album and one song is written by Karim Fahmy”, he tells, “Amr Diab once said that the most successful isn’t the one who is the best but the one who is the most determined to follow his dreams, I always remember that saying whenever I feel down”. The rising artist is a huge fan of Amr Diab “at the back of my album’s cover, I wrote a note for Amr Diab relating to the great star he is and he posted my album’s cover on his official website saying that if Mustafa El Reedy did this to satisfy the audience, they are surely satisfied so listen to his new album. That was one of the best things that happened to me ever”.
3ard Khas is Reedy’s safe haven to show it all “it’s a total new thing, as it changes the definition of drama in our culture. I’m betting on the quality of picture and techniques as they’re the main attraction for the Arabic audience today which makes them attracted to American series like Desperate Housewives and Turkish serials regardless the complete cultural gap of their plots in comparison to ours. As a creative director, I think that these serials are very much successful on our TV and what makes what I’m saying credible is the amount of advertising which is queued in these series every 10 minutes”.
The Promoseven team was very supportive with Reedy’s artistic dreams; “Mrs. Sahar El Zoghby our General Manager, was very supportive and she told me that she totally understands my passion towards acting and singing and I felt that she lived the dream with me. Every time I wouldn’t show up at a meeting or a brainstorming session because I have an audition or a shoot, they stood by my side and came to the premiere to see my performance and were very encouraging. I won’t leave Promoseven until they just kick me out”. Reedy is working on his second album in parallel to 3ard Khas Season 2 and more projects are yet to come.
The world isn’t enough for Yasmine Raees who we’ve seen in many TV ads before with her unique looks and charisma. Raees is famous for her independent character and strong unlimited ambitions in acting as she sees that the smartest thing to do is to forget that she’s in front of the camera and start relating the scene with real life; “I didn’t act in 3ard Khas. My expressions, body language and tears were all real because I’ve been put into similar situations in real life”.
Her character best describes the girl mingling with the modeling world in Egypt and some people in the field take her for granted and try to force her into relationships to advance in her career “you are a girl that’s why you understood what my character wanted to tell in the serial. The character shows how girls often aren’t able to take their rights and the conflict with myself in fear of my job and what is acceptable and respectful”.
“Growing up; I used to play with my friends a scene that I saw in a movie and I was fascinated by Nelly and Sherihan. I didn’t realize I really wanted to act until I was 14″. We see Yasmine in 3ard Khas as a girl who is eager to find a job as an actress to stop being the model on set with all the indecent proposals she keeps fighting off. “I am from Palestinian origin and a girl who comes from a family like mine is supposed to get married and not become a film star. My family thought I was crazy and I used to hear them talking behind my back as if I’m just obsessed with acting and will not achieve anything but I was very serious”, she tells.
The modeling world that Yasmine comes from has very special characteristics different when compared to the modeling world on international level “It’s starting to get more professional than before; but the thing is people in this business don’t prefer models for film auditions, unlike Hollywood where stars like Cameron Diaz started out as models. People told me after the premiere that they didn’t think I could act and I thanked God that I finally proved my potentials and I recalled my acting coach Marwa Gabriel telling me that there is an actress inside me when I asked her to tell me now or never”. Her role in 3ard Khas as a model showed how models sometimes fall as a prey for a lot of people in this field and can’t really protect themselves “harassment is everywhere, I have friends working in tourism who share horrible stories and it’s not only related to modeling but there is a big part of it in modeling”, she explains.
Alaa Hosny started out with thespian force and his dreams where very much beyond theatre. He’s currently a senior student at The Institute of Theatrical Arts and his ambitions to break onto the silver screen have always been chasing him. He met with The Producers when he was selected amongst many students to do an audition and got chosen after the second audition. “Growing up I used to act in school or do sketches in summer camps where I used to write the script and direct the plays”, he tells.
Theatre is way different than the screen; and actors combine their senses, talents and potentials to reach their audience who are watching just meters away. “In theatre; you see an immediate feedback and you must have a very rich performance, a loud and clear voice and a written script which maybe a historic story not a fresh modern one. Decades ago; theatre lived that Golden Age in the 60’s and there were political issues that needed to be tackled in artistic approaches and the government used to encourage that which makes theatre different today”.
In 3ard Khas, Hosny is living an experience poles apart from his theatrical background “well a new series with 16mm camera is a totally new thing for our culture and some people in the field didn’t believe that we actually did that as it’s a cost of four movies”. His character is similar to his real one as we see him in the first episode in a self conflict of choosing between the workshop and theatre. He also attended workshops with Marwa Gabriel who prepared him for his role.
The set of 3ard Khas wasn’t familiar to Hosny at first “Hady El Bagoury is like a psychologist for the actor and he makes sure that the actors are in the perfect mood to be able to burst out with their talents. I always dreamt of working with the late Atef El Tayeb and Radwan El Kashef and I would love to get a chance to work with Sherif Arafa and Dawood Abdel Sayed”, he adds.
Hosny has his own opinion on Egyptian sitcoms and series today “well it’s like when someone starts a telephone central in your street, everyone thinks of doing it too. There are channels and not just series today that air so-called comedy and it’s not professional or even comedy at all. Internationally; you see series that reach thousands of episodes and that’s based on a good plan of putting together a script and strategy for long term serials. I always say if you dream; dream big but learn how to live the dream”.
Dina El Sherbiny
Dina El Sherbiny is one of the five talents but given her busy schedule of filming season 2 and her job as a TV host the time did not suffice for an interview. In the series she plays Dina, a TV host, from an upper class home, who applies to the workshop without her mother’s permission and tries to face her demons. She surely is very talented and her conflicts will erupt in the coming episodes.