The journey of searching for passion does not end, starting from the turbulent world of journalism to the field of creative writing, and all the way to the cinema. A journey full of exciting experiences ignited by a spark of passion that led him to delve into art as a director and screenwriter!
Arabisk London is honoured to host the director Anmar al-Sayed in an exclusive interview to talk about his rich journey from journalism to cinema.
Interviewed by: Fatima Omrani
First of all, in your own words, who is Anmar Al-Sayed?
Anmar al-Sayed is simply a “passion seeker”. In the journey of self-searching, every day you discover something in yourself that may push you forward, and in the end, you are the one who decides the path and shape of the direction.
Anmar al-Sayed is an entity that searched for his passion for a long time, tried every day to discover himself, and at first, he found a stranger who did not look like him in the turbulent world of journalism. He looked at him in astonishment and then examined the details of his face. He took several steps back and then turned towards the camera lens, leaving pending questions with no answers in the uncertain future.
You studied journalism and media and then you worked in the media field.
Tell us about this stage of your life?
I studied media and worked in the media field for more than 14 years. I worked in many jobs and many media associations, but with every step I took, my certainty grew that journalism could not quench my passion.
Media work is surrounded by many complex restrictions, ranging from the editorial policies of the means by which the journalist works, to censorship laws, and not ending with the nature of media work, which necessarily requires honest reporting of reality.
Therefore, I can say that my work in the media field was a rich experience for me that put me at the beginning of a busy career, and contributed to shaping my experiences, however, I did not find in journalism the passion I am looking for.
What is the turning point that took you to the world of cinema?
It was simply the camera!
I saw it in a store specialized in selling photographic equipment, and I looked at it a lot during a quick mental trial that prompted me to buy it, while I thought: What prevents a journalist from learning the arts of photography? And I found this camera an additional way to hone my skills in the field of media.
I soon fell in love with the camera, and the number of times I pressed the camera button to document or record a moment. Later, I was no longer satisfied with documenting a photo, I was in front of an urgent need to document a scene, so I delved into the study of photography, and in fact it was the real refuge for me to fulfil my passion.
You have experiences in the field of writing, tell us about them?
Writing is a complex and dangerous process, as if when you hold a pen you enter a sensitive chemical laboratory, one word out of place will explode in your face and turn you into fragments and dust, then you will fade away as if you never existed! I simply see that writing may take you to the grave so that others may live, and it may take you to life to live with it!
My experiences in creative writing were limited to some thoughts personal texts that I did not publish. I think that sharing ideas with others is a great responsibility, and as I always say, your knowledge of writing does not mean that your handwriting is beautiful. And even if you have a beautiful handwriting, that does not mean you have the ability to express, and if you have the expression, it does not mean at all that you are smart and quick, and if you are smart and quick, it does not mean that you will survive all of the above, because your mistakes will be a thousand, and then you will wish that you did not know how to write!
You are about to direct your first TV series, tell us about it?
In fact, we are a few steps away from filming a series called “Black Coffee”, whose story revolves in 10 episodes. It is a thriller about rebellion and redemption after the end of the world, as a group of survivors struggle to uncover the truth and reclaim their future from a secret tyrannical group in a world forever changed by a cataclysm. The series focuses on the characters’ development and explores their themes of strength, ambition, love, suspicion and betrayal in the face of adversity. Overall, the combination of high stakes in visual story delivery, suspense, plot, conflict, and action makes “Black Coffee” a hit with viewers who love drama, action series, and sci-fi.
The series’ executive producer is Malak Media Production Company, which is managed by Mr. Thaer Abdel Aziz Al-Hajji, and I am pleased to send him all greetings, love and appreciation through your platform. With regard to the scenario and dialogue, the Syrian novelist Laila Srour and I formed a writing workshop, and she is a writer distinguished by her great creative sense. Me and Laila have previously cooperated with each other in a joint creative work. Our ambition focuses on presenting a story that lives up to the audience’s appreciation and respect for their taste and mind.
What are the difficulties of delving into the field of film industry in the Arab world?
There is no doubt that Arab cinema has been subjected to troubles and difficulties, the effects of which are still present today, despite the serious and bold attempts of various Arab countries. However, Arab film production remained far from the concept of the industry due to poor funding for this sector in the first place, and the producer’s control over the work, as well as targeting an audience with a limited public base, such as directing Arab cinema to the Arab viewer only.
On the other hand, Arab creators in the field of cinema are experiencing a multifaceted crisis, despite what critics agree on that they represent the current closest to reality and to the concerns of the Arab citizen. The experiences of most of these creators confirm the extent of the obstacles they face during the existence of a respectable cinematic current that produces what some known as new or independent cinema, a cinema that falls outside the scope of what is known as commercial cinema that dominates the screening market in the Arab world.
Do you believe in the role of cinema in changing reality? Do you prefer presenting reality through the media or cinema?
Yes, I certainly believe in the role of cinema in changing reality, and there are many cinematic productions that have brought about great changes in society, but of course cinema is not required to do that, nor is it required to represent reality either. An example of this is science fiction films that are far from reality. Perhaps it suffices that it presents its projections that simulate reality and seeks to deal with it. Both media and cinema have different aspects. Media presents reality in its own way and tools. As for cinema, it is a completely different art that also has its own tools.
You launched the “Cinemaiki” platform, which is the first cinematic podcast. Tell us more about it?
In cooperation with my friend Sami Abu Louh, who is creative in the field of sound design and distribution, we launched the “Cinemaiki” platform, which is a new creative platform in the world of Arabic audio content. We aimed primarily for the audience to live the story in all its details, but with their imagination! In “Cinemaiki”, we did not aim to compete with the image at all, but to challenge it with the audience’s imagination.
It was a unique experience that added to me on all levels, and although I did not reap any financial profits, I gained distinguished expertise and experiences and, like other experiences, it contributed greatly to the formation of “Anmar al-Sayed” today.
What is your advice to young directors?
I am not qualified to give advice as I am at the beginning of my career, however I say to every passion seeker, just be yourself! I tell everyone who has a dream to search for his/her passion and just be himself or herself, and not copy the opinions, ideas and experiences of others. I say to every passion seeker, be yourself and you will succeed. Simply, many have ideas, few implement them, some succeed, the elite continue, and exceptionalism excels. As it is said, he who walks on the trail arrives.