Mahmoud Ezzat is a gifted writer whose work has been extremely impressive and promising. He has worked on Villa 69 before with director Aiten Amin. And now his latest film – also directed by Aiten Amin – Souad, has been announced an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival in 2020! He is also one of the writers working on the upcoming Netflix series Paranormal, based on the Ma Waraa’ Altabi’a book series by the late Ahmed Khaled Tawfik. We sit down with Mahmoud to discuss writing, cinema, and Souad!
Before working with Aiten and Muhammed El Hajj on Villa 69, I had no interest in writing for cinema
Having worked with Aiten on Villa 69 before, this is their second collaboration. And according to Mahmoud, the experience has been rewarding to say the least. “Before working with Aiten and Muhammed El Hajj on Villa 69, I had no interest in writing for cinema. I thought it was a different kind of art that requires years of studying and practice,” he continues, “But I was haunted by cinema since then. I started exploring this art and got immersed in it in every possible way.”
All I hoped for was only to see it done and on screen. So, when I knew about the nomination I felt overwhelmed
This newfound passion for writing screenplays led to his work on Souad, which took a long time and plenty of hard work for it to come to light. “I can’t describe the work on Souad in any way without it feeling like an understatement,” he says. The film took five years to come out, “five years of research, watching references, lengthy discussions with Aiten and other people, traveling to scene locations, writing and rewriting and rewriting,” Mahmoud explains. Mahmoud describes a hectic process where drafts were still coming out until the last minute of shooting. Finally, though, it all paid off, “all I hoped for was only to see it done and on screen. So, when I knew about the nomination I felt overwhelmed,” Mahmoud continues, “and the first thought that occurred to me was ‘you deserve it, you and everyone who believed in this project over the years for no reason other than the love of cinema and the love of Souad.’”
It doesn’t matter if a male writer writes female-centric stories or vice versa, as long as the homework is done in exploring the subject at hand, and the storytelling itself is solid and compelling
When it comes to writing, Mahmoud believes in the vitality of research. “I prepared for Souad with a lot of research; reading, watching and talking to people who can give me insight,” he elaborates, “it doesn’t matter if a male writer writes female-centric stories or vice versa, as long as the homework is done in exploring the subject at hand, and the storytelling itself is solid and compelling.” Yet, Mahmoud still believes he is in the exploration phase in his writing career, “I enjoy writing in different genres, that way I feel like I have multiple channels to express how I feel. I am currently still exploring, so I can’t say which my favorite genre is,” he explains.
This exploration, and curiosity about writing are extremely important in Mahmoud’s opinion, “read as many scripts as you can, read about screenwriting as much as you can, watch movies as much as you can, immerse yourself in the art as long as you can, and enjoy the ride,” he says. As for what the future holds, Mahmoud’s sights are still set on cinema, “I am working on a new film script and I hope that by the time I finish the final draft, it gets the proper funding and production interest,” he concludes.