Dubai: Two heads are better than one. But what about six? The Mice Room, an experimental film, which had its world premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival (Diff), is directed by six debutante filmmakers from Egypt. Using fear as a premise, the young directors — Ahmad Magdy Mursi, Hend Bakr, Mohammad Al Hadidi, Mohammad Zedan, Mayye Zayed and Nermeen Salem — who met at a filmmaking course in Alexandria, say that they want to prove that it is possible to make a film out of nothing.
After financially funding the project from their own pockets, with a lot of help from volunteers, the directors received post-production assistance from Diff’s Enjaaz programme, which eventually led them to complete it.
“The mice room is that mythical place where parents would threaten to send their children to if they misbehaved,” explains Zayed. “Although we started that as the base, the story developed into a lot of other themes like anxiety, and loneliness.”
tabloid! spoke to Zayed and Salem to discuss how the film came to be, the challenges they faced while filming it and where they would like to go from here.
Q: The idea of multiple directors coming together for one film is not unique. What’s different about The Mice Room?
Salem: When different filmmakers collaborate, it’s usually in segments. Here we’ve mingled all the scenes together. Yes, we all shot our films independently, but when you watch the film, it’s only one film, not six chapters.
Q: Did you fight a lot then?
Zayed: Of course. But we managed not to kill each other. I think the beauty is that we trusted each other. Everyone cared for the film as much as each other. And no one was looking out for their own self-interest.
Q: With what’s going on in Egypt write now, what difficulties did you have making this film?
Zayed: We had so many besides the lack of funds. That’s why it took us three years to complete it. There were whole months when we couldn’t film and schedules cancelled.
Salem: That’s why we couldn’t have done this without the help of people who agreed to work for free. Mark Lotfy, our executive producer from Fig Leaf Studios, helped us with equipment and editing. Our music director is a Russian from the US who agreed to work for free and so did our poster designer who is based in the UK.
Q: Now that your film is out, would you all work together again? Where would you like to take the film?
Zayed: Definitely. I think the project worked beautifully and it’s something we really want to explore further.
Salem: The sky is the limit. We never thought it would reach this point but here we are at Diff. This is only the beginning. All we know is we want to make more films.