Tarek el Ganayny says that his impressive career in production came by chance, but one would never guess that from the long list of TV series and films he has been a part of. Tarek has produced hits such as “El Aahd,” “Niran Saddika,” and “Hekayat Banat.” Not limited to Ramadan series, Tarek is currently working on the new Arabic version of SNL, “Saturday Night Live Bil Arabi,” which just recently created a buzz with its clever and humorous Zizo Song. We stole some time out of Tarek’s busy schedule to learn more about how he started his career, how he chooses projects, and what he’s planning for the future.
Why did you choose the production career?
I didn’t choose it; it came by chance when one of my friends told me that I should turn my passion and love for TV into a career. I always adored watching TV, and I watched it with a different eye than the eye of the normal person. I started with advertising, media, and then production. At first my life plan was to create ideas and formats, and leave the production to someone else, but one thing lead to another.
Did you expect the wild success and feedback that the Zizo Song received?
We never expected the Zizo Song to take off the way it did. We didn’t put it on YouTube but it was leaked on Facebook. It broke a record for shares in 24 hours on Facebook and WhatsApp. In 24 hours, the Zizo Song reached 4.7 million on Facebook alone. It was about 6 million by the time we took it down, all of this without YouTube. I was in LA at the time, so when I got the call, I felt like I had just started my production career; it surpassed anything I ever produced.
Why do you think it was such a hit?
There’s just something about it, it was written in November and since then everyone in the office and on the team always knew there was something special about it. It’s because it teases the listeners. They never actually say anything bad, they just play on what’s already in your mind.
It sets a very high standard for the rest of the show. It’s only year one for us, but we are being compared to year 41. There is a lot of focus on us, but so far I think we are meeting those expectations, praise God.
Most of the TV series you’ve produced consisted of an ensemble cast like “El Aahd,” “Niran Saddika,” and “El Sabaa Wasaya,” is that something you target while picking scenarios?
We also did “Sharbat Loz,” “Vertigo,” “Hekayat Banat,” and many more projects, but personally I don’t prefer TV series starring one character. For me, it would turn boring over 30 episodes, but it’s not something that I focus on while choosing scripts. As long as I like the script, I will produce it.
Do you have any plans to start producing films?
I participated in and produced lots of movies, such “Samir W Shahir W Bahir,” “Banat El Am,” “Zay El Naharda,” and many more, but it was always my partner and friend Mohamed Hefzy who executed them. In the near future, I have plans to produce more than one film.
“El Beyout Asrar” is a new experiment for you; can you tell us more about it?
We were planning to do a TV series that would be broadcasted but not during Ramadan like we are used to. This would all be while still maintaining our quality, by which I mean using the highest quality of cameras, skillful director, and the best of our actors and actresses. It also means using our very own style of scripts that contain many stories and fast scenes that are full of suspense. We saw that it was something that never occurred in the projects that were produced outside of Ramadan.
We had a feeling that this one project will work and have a good echo on people, but it never crossed our minds that it achieve that outstanding success.
What kind of advice would you like to give to starting producers?
I know this might sound cliché, but I would tell them to trust their guts. Whatever you feel you want to do or that this is the right project for you, do it. You will succeed in the end. Don’t listen to media experts who will tell you what will work and what won’t, just have faith in yourself and you will get there.
What are the new projects you’re working on right now and who are the casts?
I am now working on two projects. The first of them is “Saturday Night Live Bel Arabi.” Saturday Night Live is the most famous and oldest TV show in the United States for more than 40 years. Since 2014 we were working on this project, the broadcast started this past February on OSN, and soon CBC also will present it.
Second of all, I am working on a TV Series called “El Mizan,” which is directed by Ahmed Khaled Moussa, written by Baher Dewidar, and starring Ghada Adel, Bassel el Khayat, Mohamed Farag, Ahmed Fahmy, Nahed el Sebaai, Sherine Reda, and many more. It’s a very large and exquisite cast, and I am so excited for this project.