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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Alexandria Got Talent

The audition took place in Goethe-Institute on October 23rd and 24th. We've had over 50 actors and actresses in both days from Alexandria and few from Cairo. We were hoping to have more children and old people coming to the audition but as always most of them were young men and women. We were really impressed by so many people and how talented they were. We wish we could have more characters for all of them.

Magdy, Zedan, Hadidi and Mahmoud's arm while auditioning some actors 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Audition/Casting Call

Today we made an event in facebook to announce an audition next week in Goethe-Institute in Alexandria.
The audition's event in facebook
The event stated:

Actors and actresses are needed to take part in an Egyptian Alexandrian independent feature film "The Mice Room". It's a collaborative digital feature film divided into seven segments and it's taking place in Alexandria. It's made by the graduates of the Jesuits Cultural Center Filmmaking Workshop (The 4th Group):
- Ahmed Magdy 
- Hend Bakr 
- Mahmoud El Soghiar
- Mayye Zayed 
- Mohamad El Hadidi 
- Moahmed Zidan

The film is produced by Fig Leaf Studio and Rufy's Fine Art Center

The Roles:
- Actors from 3 to 10 years old
- Actors from 20 to 40 years old
- Actors from 50 to 55 years old
- Actors from 65 to 80 years old

- Actresses from 3 to 10 years old
- Actresses from 17 to 30 years old
- Actresses from 35 to 45 years old
- Actresses from 55 to 65 years old

Please prepare a small scene to act in the audition. No previous experience in acting is required.

The audition will take place on Saturday October 23rd, 2010 and on Sunday October 24th, 2010 in Goethe-Institute:
10 El Batalsa Street, Azarita
Alexandria, Egypt
+20 3 4879870


The map of Goethe-Institute in Alexandria


Please send your resume with a recent photo to the following e-mail address:

For more information please call the following numbers:
+2.010.259.8886 
+2.011.950.7575

Friday, October 15, 2010

Production Discussion

Yesterday we met Marc Lotfy and the production managers; Nesreen Talat and Sameh Nabil in "Fig Leaf" studio. We talked about the budget and the results of scouting locations. We checked the actors/actresses archive that Marc has in the studio for all previous auditions. Also Marc, Nesreen and Sameh suggested some names for specific characters or roles in the film. We are also planning to have an audition in the coming two weeks.

Hadidi, Marc, Zidan, Nesreen and Hend during a production discussion in Fig Leaf Studio

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Mice Room

No one of us really liked that name "Seven". It was only temporal until we come up with a better name. Ahmed Magdy was suggesting "A Film About Fear" but I guess he was very influenced by the legendary filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski and his films "A Short Film About Love" and "A Short Film About Killing". Then two weeks ago we've decided to name our film "The Mice Room". It may sound strange but it's a very popular term in the Egyptian culture. The mice's room is always a symbol a fear for any Egyptian kid so we thought then it is the best name to describe our film that talks about fear. No one has ever seen the mice's room because simply there is no such thing in reality but every one is afraid of it. Egyptian mothers are used to frighten their kids to let them go to bed early or to eat well for example, by threatening them to be taken to the mice's room if they don't behave well or do what they are told.

Fig Leaf

We were planning on making this film with almost a zero budget or with only the few amount of money we have but anyway we needed a production manager in the project. Our first choice was Marc Lotfy who is an Alexandrian filmmaker himself who also studied filmmaking in Jesuits Cultural Center. Marc has this studio called "Fig Leaf" which is almost the only studio in Alexandria for independent film production. 
Marc got really excited when we told him about our project and about the idea of making a feature film in Alexandria by Alexandrian filmmakers. He even offered to give us the equipments available in the studio to shoot with in our film. He also discussed with us many aspects of the script and the film as one structure which made some of us change some details in the script. 


Marc helped us to choose the production managers for the whole project as it was very difficult to have only one production manager who works voluntarily. We found that it was better to have one production manager for each two segments so we could have 3 production managers for the whole project. So I guess the idea of Marc Lotfy and his studo Fig Leaf being a part of the project is very useful to us and to "Seven". You can know more about Fig Leaf Studio in the following link:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Traveling Zoom H4n

Among the things we looked for in the internet was an audio recorder. By the money we saved from buying the Canon 550D camera we wanted to buy other important stuff. One of the main issues of any independent film is the audio quality. After surfing a lot the internet and looking for different products we fell in love with the Zoom H4n handy recorder. It is a 4 channel mixer with sd cards and its price is really great (300$). You can know more about it in the following link:

Zoom H4n Handy Recorder

Ahmed Ragab a friend of us offered to buy it for the film so that we can even save the money for other stuff we need. Another friend was going to USA a couple of months ago to attend a few days workshop so we asked him to order it from amazon and bring it with him back to Egypt. We thought it would be easier and cheaper this way but unfortunately the Zoom H4n arrived after he left and up till this moment we are looking for a way to get it back to Egypt.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Scriptwriting Meetings

While attending the independent filmmaking workshop in Jesuits Cultural Center we worked a lot together and we always had that dream of making a feature film together. We tried writing another film but we found out that it needed a big budget and it would be risky to have as a first project so we postponed it for later. Then we discussed the possibility of writing together another project and even organizing a scriptwriting workshop for all the people interested in Alexandria even if they had never written a film script before. We didn't have a clear idea what that project might be about and we suggested that one of us could direct it but then we thought that still needed more experience and it would be more useful for each one to write and direct a part of the total film.

We started writing the script on Friday May 1st, 2010 and set up a schedule for the rest of the steps. Each one of us was free to write what he/she wants. We agreed on fear as a main theme for the 7 films. It was the one of the restriction besides other restrictions like other sub themes and some motifs. We used to meet once or twice every week to talk about the different ideas of each one and how he/she sees fear from his/her point of view and to have a brainstorming to come up with better ideas.

Hend Bakr explaining her idea in one of the scriptwriting meetings

Mohamed Zidan reading his script in one of the scriptwriting meetings

By the end of May each one of us was supposed to finish writing his own short script or segment as planned in the schedule and to start in June writing together the connection between the segments and each other, to have a strong structure as one feature film and not 7 separated short films but we needed more time so the whole process was shifted and each one finished his part at the end of June.

Mohamad El Hadidi writing the ideas in one of the scriptwriting meetings

In July we started discussing all the 7 segments separately and had a brainstorming for the possible connections between these segments and each other. By the end of July we had the final version of the script with all the segments connected with each other in different ways. Unfortunately Mohamed Zidan broke his leg and Nermeen Salem was preparing to travel to USA so we had to start shooting Nermeen's segment right away before she left.

Nermeen Salem, Ahmed Magdy and Mohamad El Hadidi in one of the scriptwriting meetings

We can't think yet of a better name other than "Seven" and we decided to name each segment by the name of the main character in that segment so we can say that "Seven" is divided into: Amr, Hassan, Dalia, Mousa, Maha, Ashraf's mother and the girl.

The 1st Segment "Maha"

Because Nermeen Salem was leaving on the August 22nd, 2010 to USA and wouldn't be back before June 2011 we had to stop working on the budget or any thing else and shoot this segment. 

Nermeen Salem, Ahmed Magdy and Mohamad El Hadidi during shooting "Maha" in Cinnabon cafe

August 8th, 2010 was the first day of shooting for the film or the first segment "Maha". It was shot in "Cinnabon" cafe which is a very well known place in Egypt. The owner of the cafe was really welcoming and allowed us shoot in it for free. Even the customers were not allowed upstairs where we were shooting so as not to disturb us. Nermeen and all of us were really thankful to "Cinnabon" cafe and its help. http://www.cinnabonegypt.com

Shooting a shot from "Maha" in Cinnabon cafe

The actresses are rehearsing their roles before shooting

Mohamed Zidan and Mohamad El Hadidi working on lighting the location

We didn't want to shoot in Ramadan because of fasting plus the fact that we were in August the hottest month of summer. Since Nermeen was leaving after few days we had no other choice and the rest of the shooting days were in Ramadan and some of them were in the streets.

Near Fouad Street in Down Town or "Mahtet El Raml"

Shooting from the car

We finished shooting this segment on August 16th, 2010. It was shot in 6 days and is supposed to start editing soon.

All the way to the Canon 550D DSLR Camera

Last April when we the 7 of us first had the idea of writing and making a film together we decided to shoot it digitally of course. We were so concerned by the camera we are going to use because there were so many points to think of like quality and price of course. We had limited amount of money. We thought that it was better to invest the money we had in a camera that we could use in other projects later. We were going to have a bank loan to buy the camera we need and the most important equipments in shooting or audio too. We could just use them later for future projects or even rent them in the studio we were thinking of making so we could repay the bank.


At the beginning we were thinking of getting the Panasonic HPX 300 which is a great camera but very expensive. It costed almost 60,000 L.E which are about 10,000$. You can know more about it in the following link:
Panasonic AG-HPX300

We didn't want to rent it because we found out that renting would cost us more than actually buying the camera in the long run. We looked for cheaper cameras and we were very close to get the Panasonic HPX 170 and it was about 30,000 L.E or 5,000$. You can also know more about in the following link:
Panasonic AG-HPX170

By the time we were about to buy it, we found out about the new canon DSLR cameras that shoot videos in HD quality with manual control settings. We tried to ask many people about the quality of these cameras and almost everybody recommended the Canon 5D Mark II or the Canon 7D. Some were skeptical about them because of the rolling shutter problem.
Canon 5D Mark II

But there was a feature film called "Microphone" being shot here in Alexandria in April with the Canon 7D. Mohamed Zidan who is one of us was working in that film and he was really impressed by the quality that relatively cheap camera gives and the chance of using different types of lenses that give you that cinematic film look. You can know more about the film "Microphone" in the following link:

We tried to know more about these new DSLR cameras and we found that great camera the Canon 550D or the Rebel T2i that was released last February. It is very cheap (900$ ONLY) and with great quality similar to that of the Canon 7D in video as it has the same sensor. It even has better things like external mic socket which doesn't exist in the Canon 5D Mark II or the Canon 7D. Besides it doesn't have that rolling shutter problem. We ended up having 2 of this great camera that we are going to shoot our film with. You can know more about it in the following link:
 
Canon 550D or Rebel T2i

When it all began

The idea of the film "Seven" is to make a collaborative digital feature film by 7 different filmmakers; Ahmed Magdy, Hend Bakr, Mahmoud El Soghiar (Or Houda as he likes to call himself), Mayye Zayed, Mohamad El Hadidi, Mohamed Zidan and Nermeen Salem, all coming from the Egyptian city Alexandria. We attended the one-year independent filmmaking workshop together in Jesuits Cultural Center in Alexandria in 2009/2010. We were 8 in the workshop but unfortunately Ahmed Abul Nasr couldn't be with us in this project from the beginning but he is a part of the crew. All the filmmakers and the rest of the crew and cast are volunteering and not being paid.
The Jesuits Cultural Center Independent Filmmaking Workshop 2009/2010

Mahmoud El Soghiar and Mohamed Zidan have just graduated this year from Law School while Ahmed Magdy and Mohamad El Hadidi are still students in it. Mohamad El Hadidi is a photographer who worked as a cameraman in "Hawi" feature film for Egyptian director "Ibrahim El Batout" and in other short films. Mohamed Zidan worked in several short films and in "Hawi as well. He worked as a DOP assistant in "Microphone" feature film for Egyptian director "Ahmed Abduallah". Hend Bakr has studied Arabic in El Azhar University and now she works as curator in "ACML" cultural office. She is a poet and a short story writer. Nermeen Salem is a teacher of English who graduated from the Linguistics and Translation Unit in Faculty of Arts. She took part in various theatrical performances before. Mayye Zayed has studied Electronics and Communications Engineering but she never worked as an engineer. She has attended many filmmaking, animation and video art workshops. She was also a part of the crew in "Hawi" feature film. Each one them has made two short films during the Jesuits filmmaking workshop, having the rest of the group as his/her crew. They've worked all together in the documentary film "Life in Alexandria".

The name "Seven" is a temporal namer until we come up with a more creative and better one. The idea is to have a film written, directed, shot and edited by the 7 filmmakers together. The film is divided into 7 segments or stories about 7 different characters connected together in a way or another to give us at the end a feature film called "Seven". Each segment is named after its main character. The film's main theme is fear with all its types but also there are some sub-themes like loneliness, death and family.

Alexandria doesn't have a film industry like Cairo so most of people wanting to be filmmakers just leave it to go to Cairo to start a career and the rest of them who stay in it are only making short films. We wanted to stay here and to even make a feature film with the help of all those film lovers in the city. What encouraged us was the fact that some of us worked in the digital feature film "Hawi" (or the Juggler) for the Egyptian filmmaker "Ibrahim El Batout" with almost a zero budget here in Alexandria. "Hawi" was made by a volunteering non professional crew and cast all from Alexandria only. Not only no money was paid for the cast and the crew but also the shooting locations and the equipments used in the film. The Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has selected "Hawi" among other twenty-nine projects that receive grants for script development, digital production, postproduction, distribution or workshops. "Hawi" recieved the postproduction & final financing fund and it is set to be released January 2011 at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, Netherlands, which is one of the most prestigious and influential international film festivals. So I guess witnessing such experience just gave us hope to make a film ourselves.

Behind the scenes of "Hawi"

You can know more details about "Hawi" in the following link:

We don't want to just make the film "Seven". We as a group are looking for more, as we've been discussing the possibility to have a small production company or a studio of our own. We're looking to invest the equipments we are going to buy to shoot "Seven" with, in this studio to make other future projects.

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