Yara Hassan started her career as a reporter in Al Beit Beitak where she learned a lot about her passion for production. Yara is now a 39-year-old mother of two, who has fulfilled her passion of starting her own company, Fekr Production House. In this interview, Yara recalls her first class as a mass communication student where she was taught that media exists to educate, inform, serve, and entertain people. From that moment on, Yara Hassan pursued the job she feels she was made for. So, from Al Beit Beitak to Sky News Arabia to other major productions that set the tone for many others in the media, Yara has paved the way for herself to pursue what she loves most. Fekr production house has been a pillar when it comes to producing and coming up with new and creative TV formats, leading the way for other companies to follow.
We sat down with Yara Hassan to know her full journey!
What drove you to start Fekr Production House?
I started off my career as a reporter in Al Beit Beitak. After that, I traveled to Sky new Arabia and was part of their launching team. When I got back in 2012, it was very hard to go back and work in the media city because I did not want to leave my son Yehia who was around 18 months old back then.
So, as random as this sounds, my husband Ahmed suggested that I start off my company. I had 45k, my savings from Abu Dhabi. I rented an apartment in Heliopolis, renovated it, hired 4 people, and started Fekr Production House. If it was not for Ahmed’s suggestion and support, I don’t think I would have thought about this.
It took me a year and a half to start my first project.
Those were very depressing days, the cash was vanishing, no work, no projects. After that, I was able to sell my first TV format to MBC Masr and OSN. It was a musical show called Microphone, where underground bands meet mainstream stars and produce new music lists. It was so rewarding. That was a big accomplishment as well, that a production house that is only one year old is able to sell a format to MBC. Later on, Fekr started executing TV ads and branded content. This gave us a strong foundation and secured our business and cash flow.
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Today, Fekr owns its office and has a bigger employed team. A good number of the ads we have produced are recognized and have been awarded regional awards.
How has your work in Al Beit Beitak affected your work now?
Al Beit Beitak was not just a TV show, It was an institution on its own. I learned so much from its seniors on how to run an institution. On how to build a diverse team, and how to never compromise on a good image (hire the right art director, the right light designer, and the right host).
How to be big and remain big from the start till the end. All of this affected my perception of how to create content and how to manage it. The different genres I worked for, helped me have access to a wider list of supplies, and enhanced my expertise in how and what is needed to design good engaging content.
What were the biggest challenges you faced trying to bring Fekr Production House to life? And how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge, in the beginning, was to secure the right amount of money to secure the business. I did overcome it by accepting each and every job brief/proposal that came in even if it was really small.
Being a woman in a male-dominated field, how has it been navigating that path?
One of the main things that made me continue and excel is that I have never given weight to this fact. I actually got huge support from all the managers and mentors I met in the early stages of my career. Plus, I was granted so much support from my father and husband. The male figures in my life have always been positive. I treated people as people, apart from their sex type. It is whether you are a well-balanced person or not, whether you are a man or a woman.
What message do you have for young women who are interested in pursuing a career in production?
Production is fun. You need to keep on rolling to score. There are no days off, and there is no way your phone can go dead. Every day has its challenges. Every project comes with a new group of people, and every new project has its own identity and type. It is never boring. It is very rewarding but needs so much flexibility from yourself and from your close circle to be able to continue.
What is the inspiration behind SoldOut Entertainment?
Me and my husband, the founder of SoldOut Entertainment wanted to create a space for content creators/talents to show their arts in. We wanted to create a platform where the audience can easily select from different acts and gigs what suits their taste. That is why I was so keen to establish three genres under the same umbrella (music, interviews and comedy).
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The reason behind creating this platform on theaters, because we wanted people to experience “real” content. I am fed up that we are locked behind our screens. I want people, to actually dress, drive, and come connect and interact with pleasing content that can positively affect their moods and well-being. We are in a moving theatre, we are not in the same place, every month we shall be showing our acts in a different theatre, showing new content every time.
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The team behind SoldOut, are all the best. We were so keen to select the best in art direction, the best in cinematography, the best in light deign, the best in show directing, the best in music engineering..etc. We promise to offer the best experience to our audience in every aspect.
What are your upcoming projects for Fekr Production House and SoldOut Entertainment?
We are working on creating more events for SoldOut to guarantee a strong schedule all year long and at Fekr we are working on a couple of TV series and a movie that shall be produced soon.
How has your work in the media shaped you? And what are the lessons you’ve learned from your work in production?
I have learned that is it never easy, scoring a goal has to come after many trials and only after the right number of trials and hard work.
All shall pass, and it is never stable, so you always need to be mentally strong and patient.
Where do you see yourself, Fekr Production house, and SoldOut Entertainment in 10 years?
A strong production entity that is very loyal to its work ethics and produces the best content. A game changer that changed the face of the industry and helped secure this country’s position in media production. An entity that helped introduce many many talents to the industry.