Lights, camera, and tons of action. Shereen Farghal is one of the most sought after Art Directors in the Middle East. With one hit show after another, Farghal is making a dramatic impact on both Ramadan series and movies. This year’s Segn El Nessa (Women’s Prison) and Saba’a Wasaya (The Seven Wills) provide just a small glimpse into the busy life that Farghal leads. eniGma’s Radwa El Ziki got the chance to get an in depth look at Farghal’s world.
Graduating at the top of her class from the Cinema Institute, Farghal worked long and hard to achieve her dream of becoming an Art Director. Even though her path was not clear at first, Farghal slowly but surely created a career for herself. Working alongside big names like Adel Maghraby, who recently art directed the hit series Saraya Abdeen, Farghal found her calling in the art of designing and implementing television and movie sets.
What shows and movies have you worked on? How do you decide to take on designing a set for a script?
I’ve designed sets for shows including Aghla Men Hayati (Dearer Than My Life), Malh El ‘Ard (Salt of the Earth), Adam, El Zawga El Tanya (The Second Wife), and the movie Ahla El A’wat (The Best of Times). These are just the ones I remember off the top of my head. Recently I have art directed Segn El Nessa and Saba’a Wasaya, two shows that are extremely close to my heart.
I always choose scripts that are challenging and have a different idea to them. That is what makes my job interesting. Building and designing sets alongside a story needs a lot of imagination, patience, and most importantly, team work.
Tell us about Segn El Nessa and the process of making the show.
When I read the script, I realised that most, if not all the scenes, are shot inside a prison. We would have normally rented sets and designed them accordingly, but instead I decided to build a complete prison. I was not sure how the production management would take it, but they were fully on board. Taking on an area of 6500 square meters, with 80 workers and a three months deadline, we managed to create a replica of a real prison. Details were extremely important. From the cracks on the wall, to the prison door, to the gates, we wanted to make it as real as possible. Although it was a lot of work, I think that it was all completely worth it.
Both series are situated around a prison and they also premiered at the same time. Although it was quite difficult, we were fortunate that Saba’a Wasaya’s script was based on fantasy, giving us more space for creativity and imagination. All the shooting took place inside the sets that we built, we built 110 decors! This was a real accomplishment.
What is your reaction when you see your work on screen?
I watch the shows exactly like a normal viewer would. Even though I know exactly what is going to happen, I am usually on the edge of my seat. This is definitely the case with Segn El Nessa, it is one of the most dramatic and eventful shows I have ever worked on.
What happens to the sets when you are done with them?
This is the worst part of my job. The sets get destroyed and everything goes back to the way it is. Seeing all the details and hard work go down saddens me. Every time we are almost done with shooting, I avoid visiting the set, to help me let go. In the closing scenes of Malh El ‘Ard, we didn’t destroy the set, but that’s because, according to the script we had to shoot it being burnt down! That was pretty hard to watch, but in the end, it’s all in the name of drama.