Ahmed Fahmy – Decoded!

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After a few years of back and forth between the US and Egypt, between engineering school and working at a grocery store, Fahmy finally settled in Cairo to study Political Science giving into his parents’ wishes. In 2001 he filmed “Regal la Taref El Mostaheel” mocking the infamous “Tareeq Ela Elat” (Road to Elat) which became an online hit in no time moving him to the limelight. This is when he got a phone call from producer and script writer Mohamed Hefzy who offered him to write and act in a string of TV episodes called “Afeesh wa Tashbeeh” that mocked box office hits like “Sahar El Layaly”, “Tito”, “Malaki Al Askandaria” to name a few.
With his cynical tracks, he came up with his first large scale writing experience “Keda Reda” starring Ahmed Helmy marking his name in the cinema industry followed by “H Dabbour” starring Ahmed Mekky and “Boshkash” which moved Mohamed Saad to a better phase in his career after the latest downfalls. His latest movie “Waraet Shafra” alongside his co-actors Chico and Hisham introduced the triple play to the cinema audience for the first time.
After the movie “Awat Faragh”, “Waraet Shafra” came to us as an adventure team movie, weren’t you afraid to pop up with such a new idea when cinema industry was busy targeting youth by relationships and drug issues?
We have a very big problem in the Egyptian cinema. Any new movie receives great feedback is always followed by a sequence of movies of similar plots. We wanted to do something different, yet important in “Waraet Shafra”. The problem of the youth in our movie wasn’t smoking and drugs, but they were young people who are intellectually overshadowed. The movie talks about the ‘Temple of Solomon’, which I never heard of until I prepared for the movie and the myth is worth to be known. My character in the movie didn’t have alcohol or drug problems, but he had a problem of carelessness which resulted in many problems for him and the people around him. When I was preparing for the script, I wanted a family movie. I don’t want a mother and her children to see a movie and feel embarrassed; I want people to have fun watching my movies.
How did people receive “Waraet Shafra”?
I predicted a 90% success for the movie after the post-production. When people came to watch the movie before it was out in theatres, and those people happen to be important in the cinema industry by the way, they said that that film doesn’t fit to be screened in theatres and it should be screened on TV or on 5 cinema screens at most. We felt the grip at first, but there is a big age gap between us and the critics. For example, producers like Karim El Sobky or Mohamed Hefzy understand youth but unfortunately most of our critics aren’t updated enough with what this generation wants to see on screens. Critics must be a guide to actors and writers and that’s what we are missing.
Is the performance better when you act your own script than any other actor?
No it’s more difficult. When I’m writing the imagination is different from acting so it’s difficult to act it, but if I get a script from another writer I imagine myself while acting and it’s a way easier.
How do you work on your artistic skills?
I took acting courses as well as vocal lessons. I work on my acting skills all the time. When I started to sign contracts, I started to work on my skills and it’s full time practice as well as watching lots of movies.
You act and write at the same time, what are the positive and negative aspects to explore many career paths?
The negative thing is when I read a scenario, I’m not always satisfied to act it as I’m a script writer so my satisfaction with scripts isn’t easy. But I think it is positive in a way or another as you are aware with everything about your work and I’m planning to study directing at New York Film Academy but not until two years from now. I could maybe direct when I’m forty but I want to have the thing in mind. Some people say that it’s never successful for an artist to explore acting, writing or directing at the same time, but look at Hollywood, Ben Stiller is an actor, director and producer as well as Mel Gibson and look at their movies. I don’t want to be known as an actor or a writer; I want to be known as a movie maker.
Which character in “Keda Reda” you knew will have the greatest influence on the audience?
“Bibo” was the most difficult character in writing as it doesn’t have a unique structure. The character which I knew that will have a strong effect on the audience was “El Prince” as Ahmed Helmy was never seen in such character. The movie took a year and a half to write and I rewrote it 16 times.
You acted in and wrote “Afish wa Tashbih” episodes that mocked many box office blockbusters, how challenging was that?
I consider these movies as great and successful movies and mocking them isn’t because we don’t like these movies. If you see Hollywood movies like Scary Movie, you’ll see the mocking of successful blockbusters like Scream for example, which doesn’t mean that Scream isn’t a good one. The movie must be dramatic and couldn’t be from a comedy genre. Ahmed Haroun the good looking actor in “Sahar El Layaly” was played by Chico who has totally different physical features which grabs all the irony. I like Ahmed El Sakka a lot; he’s my number one superstar and he is the jet-setter of Egyptian action movies. Irony is like a caricature for the actor nothing more.
You worked with pioneer comedians, do they interfere in the script or you have total free hand in writing?
Dealing with a superstar isn’t a walk in the park. “Keda Reda” could have been mind games or a romantic comedy but every writer has his own way, I’m very flexible as at the end the actor is the one who will spell out the words, but I never let my flexibility destroy the main theme. In the middle of writing “Keda Reda”, my mind was blocked at a certain point and I called Hefzy and he helped me with his fresh mind, what I’m trying to say is the point of view of the producer or members of the cast are very important and are not less important than that of the writer.
You introduced Mohamed Saad in Boshkash with a total new taste, weren’t you afraid the film will get the same comments the latest movies of Mohamed Saad received?
I wrote “Keda Reda” and it was a great success taking Ahmed Helmy to another stage and “Waraet Shafra” was also a new thing and planted confidence in me. I wanted to do the same with Mohamed Saad after his latest movies and I told myself why not. There is a positive difference between “Krkar” and “Boshkash” and what’s new is that I was there, but still I’m not very much satisfied with the movie.
In “H Dabbour” what did you focus on more, the linguistics or the plot?
I never think about laughs before writing. Critics said that it was ridiculous; but we didn’t aim to make a serious movie people! The main character Haitham, a high society kid mingled into a local lifestyle different from his socio-economic status after his father was sent to jail for a ridiculous reason which is selling expired shampoo and people making a fuss about it. If the message of “H Dabbour” was delivered to the audience, that’s great of course and who didn’t get the message, enjoyed a nice movie with his friends. I regret some of the linguistics, I must have shown some respect and I take the whole responsibility even if Mekky cripples some of them in the script, but some people have the right on criticizing and others don’t.
Who are your favorite comedians of all time?
I like people who were around Ismail Yassin like Abdel Salam El Nabolsy. I find Samir Ghanem a legendary comedian and as well as Adel Emam, Saeed Saleh, Mohamed Saad and of course Chico and Hisham my co-actors in “Waret Shafra”, “Afish wa Tashbih”, “Regal La Taref El Mostahil”.
Who are your favorite male actors of all time?
Hassan Youssef has great charisma. He isn’t unique, but imagine him in any cadre with another actor he will capture all the lime light. I like Ahmed Zaki and Roshdy Abaza, they have the soul of super stars, and we miss that these days. Ahmed Ezz is a heart throb but people like El Sakka more as he looks like them, so if a guy is going to the movies with his girlfriend he won’t be jealous; by the way guys think like that (laughs). Asser Yassin is a great actor and I see him the most important actor of our generation and Ahmed El Fishawy is talented as well. There is a difference between a super star and an actor and beyond superstardom; I think that Khaled El Sawy, Fathy Abdel Wahab must be a international actors.
Who are your favorite actresses of all time?
From old movies, I’m a fan of Soad Hosny, Nadia Lotfy and Madiha Kamel. In our days, I see Hend Sabry the best actress in our generation and Donia Samir Ghanem is on the way up.
What makes a great comedian these days?
The comedian must focus on a high concept plots and mustn’t go with the flow of the comedy trend around him. He mustn’t choose any plot presented to him and must give each script enough time for thinking or focus on his physical appearances. What is most important is to learn and be able to turn down a mediocre script and wait for a really good one.
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