Mohammad Hefzy – the successful combination of Science and Art

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While engineering is his family business, cinema is his passion and helping new talents is his job. He successfully works two careers taking up all his time, not easy but not impossible for such a versatile juggler. His goal is to introduce new talents and ideas. When I met him I discovered a simple, modest yet very ambitious man with a plan.
 
You are mainly an engineer, so how did you get into the film industry?
I knew from the beginning that I have to be an engineer to run my family business, but when I was in London studying I read many books about cinema as I was interested in directing, however I found that writing is the only way for me because I can do it anytime and anywhere. I studied script writing in seminars and workshops and my first script was in English titled "Letting Go", but I started professionally in 1999 with director Tarek El Erian with "El Selem Wal Teban" (Snakes and Ladders). I thought that working in cinema would be just a hobby, but after my third film it became my second career.
 
Some criticize that most of your films are about high society and ignore the real problems of the poor segments, is that true?
There are different genres of films apart from social drama; some writers write films stories just for entertainment. I think it's better to write about the world and the people you really know, for example, I respect Nasser Abdul Rahman for his scripts which are related to the less privileged and their problems and miseries, as he may discuss these issues better than me. I prefer to reflect the worries of the human being that anyone can feel regardless to his class, rather than the economic and social problems.
 
Tell us about your script writing workshop?
My main job besides writing is developing scripts and making themsuitablefor production, whether written by me or others. I also facilitate the communication between the writers and the producers. On the other hand, some of them have the talent and good ideas, but they lack the script writing technique. Thus, each year, I teach scriptwriting technique through the workshop, but this year for the first time, the screenwriting icon Syd Field will come to Egypt to give an intensive screenwriting workshop. It will be an event for all aspiring scriptwriters and it will start on 4th of July.
 
Is it true that you were writing 'Akher El Kalam' film script for El Sobky Film'? Doesn't this contradict with your writing style?                      
(Smiling) … this film was supposed to be for Haifaa Wahby and Ahmad El Fishawy, but El Sobky kept changing the script till it became totally different, so I quit the film in a friendly manner and have nothing to do with it now. And by the way, I'm not with most of El Sobky Film cinema style, but lately I have realized that they are developing their films and trying to do something different from what they used to do, for example 'Helm El Omr' film which is a drama about a boxer and 'Cabaret' which I liked and respected very much. I believe that it's way better than other pretentious high budget films produced by more credible production houses.
         
 
 
Why did you add production to your career? Tell us about your projects.
I did that to be able to express myself and to have better control over how I make my own projects. The first movie I produced was "Waraet Shafra", it's a light adventure movie. The second is called "Zay El Naharda" -which is not screened yet – it's a mystery drama directed by Amr Salama. There's another film about a murder mystery played by Yussef El Sherif and the new actor Ashraf Hamdy who is also the script writer and is directed by Ahmad Samir Farag.
 
What encouraged you to produce for Amr Salama? Wasn't that risky considering his lack of professional experience?
Most of the people said that I was crazy for doing that (smiling) but I've always believed in Amr and his talent. He's a very good writer and his scripts are among the best I've read, besides I saw his short films and I also produced him short film before. I know it was a risk but he deserved it and when I saw the film after shooting I was satisfied with the result, and I hope that the audiences receive it well.
 
You've lately produced the short film 'Roya Shareya' directed by Rami Abdel Gabar, are you planning to produce more short films in the future?
I do that as a test for the director; producing short films gives me the chance to know him better; see how he works and know how much we are getting alongbefore the next more difficult step which is producing a long feature film. The result with Rami was so good, he's very talented and his work is distinguishedand I would like to work with him in a long feature film as soon as possible.
 
What about your acting workshop?
This workshop was in cooperation with the acting coach Marwa Gabriel; my part was offering the place for practicing and guiding those who want to learn acting. I also try to help them to start their acting career by introducing the talented to the producers and the directors, but after the latest decisions of the syndicate I don't know how these new talents will be able to work in cinema.
 
You appeared in a scene in 'Waraet Shafra', so are we going to see you acting soon?
 (Laughs) Well, you may see me in films again but not as an actor, I don't have the time or the willing for acting, I have other priorities like directing.
 
In your opinion what do women want?
I think if I knew, I would have been married by now (laughs), seriously I think women nowadays want to prove their selves professionally and at the same time want to love and be loved by her man. Personally, I can't be with a superficial woman who has no goals to achieve in her life. I consider myself an open-minded oriental man; I have my limits that do not contradict with a woman's success and independence. 
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