There is much more to films, TV series and even commercials than the actors and actresses, bright lights and dramatic stories. Hundreds of hours are spent on creating the end product, and those behind the camera are just as important to the ones in front of it. This extremely creative craft is supported by directors, producers and cinematographers. Mostafa Faramawy is one of Egypt’s brightest talents in the production field. He has worked on numerous Egyptian and International projects, the last of which is the upcoming mini-series The Night Manager, starring Olivia Colman, Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston. We sat down with him to talk about his fascinating work.
As a producer, you’ve managed to work with some extremely interesting people on extremely interesting projects. So far, what is a project that you’re most proud of?
I was really excited to work with were Tom Tykwer, Director of Perfume and Cloud Atlas. I worked with him on the set of the new Tom Hanks movie, A Hologram for The King. It was a great experience to be on set with such a talented director. The other director I was excited to work with is Bruce Hunt, the visual effects and second unit director of the Matrix Trilogy. We worked on a TVC shoot for Panasonic. I worked with other great directors, DOPs and producers, but those two were the best experiences.
How did you end up working on The Night Manager? And what was the experience like?
I was lucky enough to work on different foreign sets for feature films, TVCs and TV series. Funny enough I got The Night Manager job through a recommendation from a coworker that I worked with so many times, Victor Credi. He is an Egyptian DOP with international standards and he was the second unit director and the DOP for the Cairo unit.
This Shoot was different, because it was done remotely. So we had to think like the director and the main DOP of the show in order to get the scenes right. We talked several times with Sussane to have a full picture of what she wants. And we were able to make her watch most of the scenes shot as if she was on set with us. The schedule was a challenge too, because we had a lot of locations to cover and the heat wave was hitting us, but end result is very satisfying.
we had to think like the director and the main DOP of the show in order to get the scenes right
What is your favorite kind of project to work on?
Every project has its challenges. I do not believe in “simple” or “easy” shoots; our job is about details, big ones or small ones. You have to stay focus and having fun. Any project that involves being on set will be my favorite kind of project.
You’ve worked on many Egyptian productions as well, what would you say the main difference is between them and international productions? And which do you prefer?
To be honest there are three major differences. The first is that technology makes their work much easier; they usually work with the latest equipment, which makes executing certain scenes or shots much easier. Also, they are more organised and their crews are less numbered, while we have a minimum of 60 to 120 crew members on set, which sometimes makes it hard to organize. Lastly, they work with massive budgets; their lowest budget is almost two times higher than our big budget. However, when we talk about human resources, our technicians are amazing, when it comes to problems solving, creativity, hard working Egyptian crews are way better than foreign ones.
How has your experience been with The Night Manager overall?
It was challenging yet fun. It makes it harder when the director trusts you with their vision; its big responsibility and we were up for it.
when it comes to problems solving, creativity, hard working Egyptian crews are way better than foreign ones.
We imagine that no matter how many times you do it, it must still be exciting to work with such big names in the entertainment industry, what is that like?
I was lucky enough to work on different local and foreign sets for Feature Films, TVCs and TV series. It’s always exciting to work with superstars, but the excitement for me is to meet the superstars behind the camera: directors, producers, DOPs and crew members. the experience is there, behind the camera. With international projects, it gives me a chance to update my knowledge, see new techniques of filming, new equipment and new ways of editing films.
What is something that you would like to work on, but have yet to do so far?
I would like to work on historical war films, fantasy films and sci fi films. To build a world that doesn’t even exist must be really fascinating.
In this industry, the competition in Egypt is quite fierce, and working on international productions must be even more difficult, what is the most challenging part for you?
The first challenge is my age. Being a young producer running a small production house and yet compete in pitches with massive production houses and big shot producers makes it very tough, but still enjoyable. Other challenges come from the laws we have in Egypt for filming. It takes ages to finish a single permit; everyone is suspicious when it comes to foreign films. Censorship bans a lot of potential shoots for the sake of “Egypt’s reputation” , to “security reasons”. We get a minimum of 5 to 6 International shoot offers a month. And we can’t do them because of the paper work. In Morocco it takes 5 hours to approve the shoots, while it takes 21 days to approve in Egypt, if it got approved to begin with. I think a department in the Ministry of Culture should be established and only work on facilitating foreign films permits. We have great local producers and companies who worked and are still working on International projects such as Hesham Soliman, Ola Roshdy (whom i worked with on the Tom Hanks Movie), and Misr International Films.
Censorship bans a lot of potential shoots for the sake of “Egypt’s reputation” , to “security reasons”
What do women want?
That’s a tough one… In my opinion, women want us to let them be. I know this might sound odd, but I really don’t like these “Women Empowerment movements”. You only empower the weak, and women are certainly not weak. If you think you are weak as a woman you will be treated as a weak woman. Women want a life of their own, without all the social pressure regarding career, marriage, kids and so on.
They just want, honesty, clarity, challenges and caring.