Interviewer: Maram Mohamed
Writer: Nada Elnady
Editor: Khaled Mohamed
With how cliche it actually sounds, life is all about the ups and downs we face, the obstacles that take stand in our way and wait patiently for us to trip, and whether we fall down the first stair and give up or start all over again, that’s solely up to us. It simply takes a spark of passion and our will to make it grow for us to actually hold our ground against all odds and start our journey towards what could be our future career, and when it comes to our interview today, you’ll get to see all of what I’ve just mentioned in a rocky journey of constant obstacles and never-ending passion.
Enter Mohamed Khalid AKA Timmy: a 22-year old videographer, video editor, filmmaker, and VFX artist. His journey in video editing/visual effects first started 6 years ago when he was inspired by YouTube VFX artists who made their own videos in their own creative way and played with the colors to make a couple of fake additions look completely realistic. He was fascinated by the end results, and thus, wanted to give it a go himself. So, he bought a small camera and started taking some photos and videos to practice editing on, observing the end results and all.
I didn’t think of it as a career back then when I first started, but despite that, it felt great to capture moments in the forms of photos and videos and edit them, adding music and inserting my own touch. I was happy that I was able to produce such videos.
From that moment on, he felt like he wanted to make this tiny passion grow. After spending 2 years in college, he decided to switch from engineering at Ain Shams to VFX at Al-Alsun to try and make his dream come true. He was completely on his own, carving his way into the visual effects industry, and slowly starting to get photography and videography to play a role along the way.
One of the greatest obstacles that always seems to face video editors and aspiring videographers is the fact that equipment (cameras and all) tends to be pricy, but the fact that Timmy saw that the videos he made actually went viral made him willing to try. He started working literarily 24/7, first as a service agent in companies such as Booking.com, and then later on, when he managed to get a camera, as a videographer in minor events such as birthday parties and football matches. He didn’t care much about the work produced out of these events or jobs (at some point, he was a junior videographer and video editor in a company where he takes food pictures/videos), mainly because they were way far off from the major he wanted to enroll in, which is VFX, but also because he had other goals in mind, which were to learn the basics of photography through these jobs, and in 6 months, he managed to grasp them all.
I wanted to add visual effects to shots I’ve taken myself, which is why I had to learn the basics of photography and work in environments that were spacious enough to allow me to do so. I got accepted into a couple of positions in several places. They weren’t huge companies or corporates, mainly small businesses, yet they provided me with the equipment to do the work and the experience I needed to build my CV.
And that’s how things were up until 2 and a half years ago, when he faced an issue that forced him to sell his camera. Right there and then, he felt like he was back to square one and that he’s starting all over again from scratch; he ended up selling the camera and the lens he spent 2 years working and saving up for. For many, this would be the end of the road, the moment where they just give up and prefer switching their professions than starting all over again with the work, but when it comes to Timmy, that surely wasn’t the case.
I admit that I was very disappointed after selling the camera. I actually spent a long time thinking of just sticking to video editing and visual effects minus the photography/videography, but whenever I was overcome by that thought, I’d instantly think of the large steps I’ve taken and the progress I’ve achieved. I couldn’t go back; I feared doing that.
Therefore, he started working again, but this time, he had to look for companies that didn’t require videographers to have equipment. What made this particular time different and the whole process of getting accepted at a photography company easier though is the fact that he already had a portfolio, so he didn’t need to resort to customer service positions like he previously had. Even though the salaries were exceptionally low, what he found himself looking forward to the most was building connections and having his name reach places. He continued working in several companies and saving up whatever he found himself making until he reached a point where he started covering events on his own (what can we say, our Timmy surely has the most professional work of all). It was him realizing how professional his work has become in comparison to the cameras he has been using that made him more willing to buy his own professional camera, and until that became the case, he spent 2 years straight renting cameras and lenses (full equipment, in general), even if the amount he pays for the equipment tended to exceed the salary he’d earn at the companies.
My work was professional enough that I would somehow cover good events such as graduation parties and such, and I believed that if the work produced was unique, it might actually go viral, so I had to take the risk. It reached a point where I would pay more than what I would earn throughout the day most of the time, but I didn’t really care as long as the videos I would produce would actually start reaching somewhere.
He did it though. His determination and persistence didn’t stop at that. He continued saving up until he actually collected half of the camera’s price, and when his parents saw the effort he was putting in to reach his goal, they decided to support him. At first, he felt like they were kind of a negative influence. They didn’t like the fact that he was switching from engineering to VFX. They spent a really long time trying to talk him out of it, but their comments didn’t faze him; they weren’t able to stop him from pursuing his dream career, or otherwise, he’d keep on failing. When they later on saw the progress he achieved, the amount of hard work and effort he was putting in to save up for a camera and build his portfolio and his identity, the amount of passion involved in the process, they decided to finally support him, and thus, they helped him with the rest of the camera’s money, and 8 months ago, Mohamed bought his personal camera.
I wouldn’t be lying or completely exaggerating if I said that I nearly didn’t sleep at that time. I was either working for the company or filming my own personal videos, and both meant that I was either in the street, filming, or on my laptop, editing, yet in the meantime, I made some personal videos like my Alexandria project and my Grammy’s video that actually went viral on the internet.
His Alexandria video was the project that was truly closest to his heart, his favorite, since it took so much time and effort from him. When it comes to the filming, he spent 6 days in Alexandria, roaming the whole city every single day. It was him along with another friend, (his friend filmed the time-lapse while he filmed the rest), and the amount of effort he put in this video, whether that was filming it or editing it (which alone took 3 months), was so huge that he was glad people loved it. The video went viral enough that even some shots out of it were stolen and used as part of another video that was displayed on DMC. Other than the fact that he was upset that his copyright was not respected, he was happy to know that the shots he had taken with a regular camera, not a cinema one, were actually displayed on TV, which felt good.
Mohamed’s favorite part of editing is the visual effects. He loves it when he is able to add something to a video and make it look realistic. It’s always a game of colors, but in addition to altering and matching the colors to the point where you’d never be able to judge whether this addition is fake or not, he plays with movements of the whole composition. He doesn’t own a cinema camera or a speed camera like photographers own at the Grammy’s, but he can make it look like he does through the editing process (which is why he purposely added the originals at the end).
My editing skills are way stronger than my photography skills to the point where even if the photos/videos I take do not harbor the best quality due to the camera itself, I can fix that in the editing process.
It’s easier said than done though, since one video takes up a lot of time to finish up. His Alexandria video took up about 3 months of a daily 16 hours of work to produce a 3-minute video, but it inspires him though. He’s a video editor who switched from engineering in Ain Shams University to VFX in Al-Alsun, started carving his passions all the way up from scratch, jumped between small businesses to build a portfolio, sold a camera and started saving up for another one all over again, but is still going! His determination didn’t simply stop; it kept on driving him forward even in his darkest times, until he reached where he is at today, a video editor/videographer that studies visual effects and works with several companies that actually have branches abroad.
Bottom line: I didn’t give up.Mohamed Khalid
Mohamed’s main support system is mainly his family and his best friend, Mahmoud (@squaredtherapper). Due to the fact that he is always busy working, he doesn’t have time to go out and have fun, to socialize. He’s not a very sociable person, but Mahmoud, his friend of 12 years, was the one who stuck with him through thick and thin, every step of the way.
When I first started to rent cameras, I was 19 years old, and I had to be 21 and older in order to actually be able to rent cameras and camera equipment. Mahmoud was supporting me to the extent that he’d accompany me every time I’d go rent a camera in order to sign the trust receipts with his name, which was a very big responsibility that he was willing to take for my sake. He always has my back. I wouldn’t be lying if I said that I depend on Mahmoud’s support a 100% after my family; he is the one I’d always seek support from the most.
And it’s beautiful. Having someone who gives you the ultimate support, a person who is always there no matter what and has your back without second thought, is very rare (rabena y5alleehom le ba3d, 2oolo ameen). Timmy also tries his best to be Squared’s ultimate supporter too! He films all his videos to try and produce them with the best quality, to make them look professional enough, and he tries his best to have his back just as much as he has his.
When it comes to quarantine, at first, Mohamad wasn’t affected much by the fact that he’d be stuck at home (since he already kind of was stuck at home most of time, editing), but keeping in mind that he used to work a lot too, he lost the chance to exhale a breath he’s been holding when he finally becomes able to leave the house (we extremely feel you in this one). In terms of creativity though, it surely made him more creative, as he would aim to create a professional outcome while working in an area that was not spacious enough or did not provide him with as many capabilities as filming outside (he does not have a studio at home, so he worked solely with what was available in his household).
This is one of the reasons why I whole-heartedly don’t consider myself a videographer as much as I do a video editor. The main reason why I would be able to produce a great outcome out of a video, whatever quality it may be, is because I have good video editing skills.
Even with the lack of a studio (capabilities, in general), he still took it upon himself to stay creative during quarantine, and he started working on several projects, his latest being a commercial ad for Pepsi. He firstly got the idea when he saw a YouTuber making an ad for Cheetos. It’s not the same as imitating; he was merely inspired by the creativity lacing every part of the video he watched, which is why he wanted to use his creativity to do it in his own way.
There are a lot of YouTubers that I’d call my favorites, accounts that I follow since 2015 and watch their videos every day. They inspire me a lot, which is why whatever they do, I try to do something that is the same level of creativity as them, not an imitation to their work. In general though, the process of learning starts with imitation. People observe their role model’s work and try to imitate it as perfectly as they can, until they reach their level of professionalism, and that’s when their creative self would take the lead.Mohamed Khalid
The same concept applies to every other kind of work, not solely videographers! A singer would start off by covering songs and trying their best to imitate the professional singer’s vocals and all, and afterwards, they start doing their own thing and writing their own music, and the list goes on.
Any artist, in any field, is always prone to facing criticism, whether it be constructive or destructive. However, strangely enough, Mohamed was never criticized for what he does.
It’s gonna sound weird, but I never received criticism on my work. I know that criticism in general is not always something negative; a person who criticizes something can either do it for a valid reason or not. They can either be at fault for doing it or not, but personally, I never tried either of them, neither constructive criticism, nor destructive one. The only criticism I ever received was when some people said that they would’ve liked Alexandria’s video better if it included Arabic music instead of English.Mohamed Khalid
Mohamed’s advice to any up-and-coming aspiring videographers is to use YouTube, and the internet in general, as their primary source of learning. They most probably won’t be able to purchase equipment directly, so after learning on their own and working on themselves, he advises them to start working to build on their knowledge more and then buy a small camera that would allow them to apply what they’ve learned.
Lastly, Timmy would like to tell you that,
If you’re passionate about something, pursue this passion and make it grow. You’ll face tons of obstacles, mountains as they would say, but don’t give up on yourself and be confident in yourself and about what you’re doing, ‘cause if you’re not, you’ll fall down the first set of stairs and start all over again. I went through that, and if I had given up after selling my camera, I would’ve ended up studying a major I don’t like, working in a field I’m not passionate about. Therefore, the most important thing in life is seeking out your passion.Timmy