Ahmed Abdelaziz: “I’m a filmmaker who captures images and moments around me when I want to feel attached to these moments”
Ahmed Abdelaziz is an Egyptian filmmaker/photographer who seeks to familiarise us with his country through his own eyes. The result is sensitive and humorous.
When entering your profile we see a couple of introductory notes about you. Tell us a few things about your involvement in filmmaking, your knowledge and experience.
As you read in my introductory notes, I am an Egyptian filmmaker, and my career began when I studied film direction at The High Cinema Institute of Egypt, where I learned the methods, techniques, and the different aspects of the cinema industry. Then I made a short movie as a director. I also wrote a short movie script which I hope I can produce in 2017. In addition, I am a first assistant director (AD) for TV commercials and previously for movies and series.
You also state that we should consider your profile as a sort of diary and that you shoot by iPhone. Is Instagram a tool of practice for you?
My work as a filmmaker and AD gives me opportunities to move around the city and sometimes outside it too for scouting and shooting, etc. Because of this, I’m lucky to be in many different locations with actors and models and maybe out-of-the-ordinary props so that at some point I’m able to capture with my iPhone a frame that can convey my vision and perspective.
Taking photos and filmmaking have similar roots, so it’s normal for filmmakers, especially directors and directors of photography (DOP) to capture moments, or at least I see it that way.
What is the different between capturing moments while you work as an AD and when you’re free?
Taking photos while I’m free gave me more options and features because I’m free to capture any moment or any composition. Beside that, I have the time to adjust the composition, it’s different when I’m working; first, I don’t have the time to take the photo, basically because of my time spent at my work and second, I have many restrictions and rules. I follow them like in not taking the composition that we take while shooting. The photo must have some different element such as the composition, the model reaction and the lens by the way etc.
You also confided that your favourite photography is the one that includes the human element. Why do you like it over the others?
I photograph architecture and nature; but yes, I prefer the human photography. Photography with a human element gives you many choices and a wide range of variation. Every little adjustment, whether it’s the model’s reaction or the composition can impact the delivery of the photo. You then engage with these little battles to match it with your own spirit and vision. There is an enjoyable challenge for me.
Your compositions are mostly coloured, yet they are not excessive. You can’t call them minimal, but they have clean lines and it makes it easy on the eye. How do you achieve this? Is it framing? Light? Contrast? A combination of all these?
It’s hard to answer this question as this point has never crossed my mind. However I could consider it a combination of all you have mentioned; maybe it’s a combination of two factors and sometimes it’s just one factor, depending on the location, the lighting, the model, the props etc. The photo is a combination of many factors and the question is what is the main thing that we want to lay emphasis on and what to avoid. If you gathered 5 photographers in the same set, the result of each one would be different compared to the others. It is purely based on how each individual perceives the world they are engaging in.
I would like to mention @davidalanharvey, the magnificent photographer who inspired me to have my own style. His photos had an impressive style … his own style. When I’m scrolling down at my news feed on Instagram I can recognize his photos without seeing his name, so it’s important to know the rules of photography, like how to make a comfortable frame and the golden points and lines etc. and after you know them well, don’t pay any attention to the rules and forget them and go to capture the moments of your own vision and your style. The key is “ just go shoot”.
You make us familiar with your country and you get to show all sides…both the attractive and the not so attractive ones. How easy is filmmaking in Egypt?
I think Egypt has the elements that could put it on a higher level in the world market. There are many magnificent locations where one can see true epic beauty, like Aswan, Sinai, White Desert, Alexandria, the Red Sea and Upper Egypt etc. Egypt has brilliant actors that can be categorized among the world-wide A class actors. Beside all of this, Egypt has a rich history in filmmaking, which started when the Lumiere brothers’ new motion picture camera came to Egypt in 1896 after only few months from the release. Unfortunately, despite all of these positive factors, the fimmaking market in Egypt focuses on a genre that maybe we can call a “light” movie genre (comedy, romance, action). The industry focuses mostly on mainstream “light” movies, even big cinema festivals and worldwide audience expect typical topics around re-evaluation and the problems in Egypt etc. So the opportunities for new ideas and fresh treatments are so rare, but we’re trying to change this.
This photo had me giggling for a whole minute! But it’s also driven me crazy with curiosity! What’s the backstory? And…are they triplets?? (photo below)
I captured it while shooting a TV commercial with the director and my friend @mahmoudshokry1, the talented dp @beshary. In this moment, while we were shooting the men for the commercial, I laid down frequently under their legs to give them director’s instructions. When all the elements combined together, I captured the image. By the way, the men are brothers, but not triplets.
You’re young and talented and I’d like to believe ambitious as well. What is your biggest dream photography-wise?
Look, I don’t consider myself a photographer. I’m a fimmaker who captures images and moments around me when I want to feel attached to these moments. I hope to continue taking more photos that reflect my perspective. My biggest dream is to merge my photographic abilities and my vision with my frames in the movies I make in the future.
The interview with Ahmed Abdelaziz was given on March 6th, 2017