The Wolfsbane Case a Film Written and Directed by Mohamed Hammad won Best Director award at Cinefern Film Award and Competition's December 2020.
The Film is about A blind ex-detective is caught in a murder case that puts his nephew as the main suspect, and must learn to overcome his fear of the dark to save his nephew before the police arrive.
Mohamed Borhan Hammad is an artist born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. At a young age, he was brought up in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Emirates, as his father was a diplomat, and his mother a clinical pathologist.During his childhood, Mohamed gained insight from various animated tv shows, movies, and comic books, all of which helped inspire him into becoming an artist, or as he prefers it, a storyteller.After graduating from the German University in Cairo’s faculty of Applied Sciences and Arts, Mohamed began his career as a Media Designer, freelancing in the fields of Graphic Design and Animation, and giving lectures and workshops in these fields as an instructor in the university he graduated from.Later, he travelled abroad for his Master’s degree in Animation at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham UK, followed by another Master’s degree at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles USA, where he studied filmmaking and graduated with honors.Nothing brings more passion to him, than telling new stories, and introducing new ideas and characters, ones that would entertain viewers around the world, with a spin of education and inspiration.
Interview With Mohamed Hammad
Q: What is the basic Idea Behind the film?
Mohamed Hammad: In one word, the basic idea/theme of the film, is confidence. In my perspective, the term “losing confidence” is an incorrect statement, for the word “losing” means never getting back again. We were all born with confidence in our souls, and instead of losing it, it just lies dormant in us, waiting to be reignited again from the dark. That is why I introduced my protagonist as a blind man, because I always see the disabled, as those who have conquered the most unimaginable challenges with impenetrable confidence, leading them into experiencing the world quite differently, which to me is an art of its own.
Q: How do you handle the Pre-Production, and Post Production?
Mohamed Hammad: Everyone would say pre-production is not an easy task, and it’s not, especially with inevitable stress and worry of not meeting the deadlines, not finding enough cast and crew, and not getting all the paperwork done in time. But alas, one doesn’t borrow time, one simply makes time. So I handle all the paperwork, location scouts, meetings, and auditions as early, as quick, and as determined as how passionate I am about any film or story I want to tell to the world, but instead of thinking things won’t work out in the end, I become confident, that it will.
As for post-production, that to me is a pat on the back, for passing through the bottleneck, and reaching the stage of putting together everything I’ve accomplished from day one, like going through your old photo album and getting deja vu. Of course, one would worry that viewers would disapprove of the story they worked tirelessly to draw, but the fact that one actually made a story, and published it to the viewers, whether they are many or few, whether they love it or hate it, is a reward of its own.
Q: What do you do to stay calm during Production of the film?
Mohamed Hammad: During production, you have to know the characters of the cast and crew you work with, just as how one would know their best friends, or even their relatives. You have to keep telling yourself, just as how you’re good at what you do, they’re great at what they do, and as long as they know the story, they know exactly what they’re doing. A set is literally a networking convention, where everyone simply intertwines, and keeps in-sync with action and time. As long as such intertwinement stays intact, and as long as the cast and crew keep getting complimented, at how amazing a job they accomplish in each take, a director would have no choice, but to stay calm during production.
Q: What sort of stories excites you?
Mohamed Hammad: I am more attached to the kind of stories that teach us something new every day. Especially stories that lead us to look at one direction, until in the end, they unpredictably reveal to us what we should have been looking at all along. To me, these are the kind of stories that carry a strong sense of wisdom within its messages, to teach us more about life as we know it, or more about ourselves as human beings, and how we can be better. In short, I like stories that inspire into developing newer stories.
Q: Do you think all the good stories have already been made into a movie?
Mohamed Hammad: I would say, there are “many” good stories that have already been made into films, but I wouldn’t say “all”, because that would cover the entire solar system. Plus I wouldn’t even call them “good” stories, or even “bad”, because to me, every story has a message of its own, and a value of its own. There is still a lot of stories out there, waiting to be found and told for years, maybe centuries to come.
Q: While casting for your film you prefer to cast a well known face or any new face which fit the character?
Mohamed Hammad: Of course, one would dream for casting a well-known face(s) to fit their character(s), but in the end, it’s not really the face that makes the character, but the performance. During the casting process, I received a notification from SAG actor Tom Mclaren, who was interested in playing the victim, but when I saw his reel and performance, I saw him better fitting as the protagonist, so I invited him to audition for the part, and his performance was so ironclad, it was like watching the character exactly as how I imagined him. Throughout production, he mastered the part so passionately, he called it a gift. It was such an honor working with an actor as talented as Tom, him and all the other talented actors who helped shape this film, especially Becca Bell, who dominated her part so well, she freaked me out during auditions. So basically, as long as the performance adequately expresses the character, a face becomes irrelevant.
Q: What is the most enjoyable thing about Production of the film?
Mohamed Hammad: To me, the most enjoyable thing about production, was getting the shots in the exact way I’ve pictured it, and watching the actors perform out of the script I’ve written myself. Another enjoyable thing I’ve found about production, was feeling the cast and crew’s passion and commitment in making this film real, and as entertaining and ambitious as it deserves. In my opinion, making a film is a way of finding and gathering friends who think in the same box as you.
Q: What is the best possible way to promote your film when you are on a tight budget?
Mohamed Hammad: An artist’s greatest compromise, is thinking outside the box, improvising, and always planning ahead. Whereas, a filmmaker’s best compromise, is finding a firm strategy for fundraising their projects. So for my film, where my protagonist is a blind man, the best way to promote is by helping organizations that aid those with disabilities, receive charity money to make helping all in need at a more vast level.
Q: When your next film is coming and what is it about?
Mohamed Hammad: I am currently aiming into developing an animated short film, because I am very passionate about animation as an art form. The script is still in the works, but the story is simply about how one must overcome their old habits and change their characteristics, in order to achieve everything they’ve dreamed of, no matter how long of a road it takes.
Q: What advice do you want to give to the new and upcoming filmmakers?
Mohamed Hammad: I would advise those future filmmakers to hold on to their passion, never let anyone tell them otherwise, and never let the stress and obstacles up ahead overwhelm them from doing what they love. To quote the late Egyptian Actor Sir YoussifWahby, “Life is nothing but an enormous theatre”. It is more challenging, but one must love what they do and what they want to do, in order to be a huge success. All it takes is patience, ambition, and determination. I personally look forward into meeting these new filmmakers, and working with them into making more beautiful stories, in the form of beautiful art.
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