A deep dive into ‘Paranormal’ series



Tue, 01 Dec 2020 - 04:30 GMT


Tue, 01 Dec 2020 - 04:30 GMT




CAIRO - 1 December 2020: The world of Paranormal, created in Egypt by an Egyptian crew, has come to life on Netflix - streaming now to 190 countries, in more than 32 languages.



Yup Based on the novels by the late author Dr. Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, the series presents some of the books’ most iconic myths and legends and finally brings to life the characters of Dr. Refaat Ismail, Maggie, HuwaidaRa’efa, and of course, Shiraz, in six episodes of pure thrilling drama. 


Shot in Egypt, with an entirely Egyptian cast and crew, season one of Paranormal introduces a whole new level of production standards, marking a historic moment for the first Arabic Original series from Egypt. From the photography to productiondesign and music, to the special and visual effects, Paranormal became the first original production in Egypt with the title “Made in Egypt .. Watched by the world”. 



On designing the horror look & feel, Director of Photography (DOP) AhmeBeshary said “shooting suspense, thrillers are unlike anything else,“ He added, “The genre is relatively new to this part of the world, yet we didn’t want to copy and paste any global or Hollywood styles of shooting in terms of the color pallette. Paranormal is so ingrained in Egyptian myths and culture, so we had to innovate and create our own authentic approach.” 




Choosing locations was a significant factor in guaranteeing the series’s authenticity. Each one was meticulously chosen based on how the writers described them in the script. Shooting locations had to reflect Egypt’s lifestyle across three different eras, both in the countryside and the capital city. 

Ali Hossam, the production designer for Paranormal S1, describes the creative design journey: “The series revolves around Paranormal events and takes place in the 60s. And sofinding a readily available location that we liked was a near-impossible task. We either had to design it from scratch or remodel and redesign the location to fit the story.” 


The Khadrawy house for instance,  is a character in its own right. It’s not just another location. It has a prominent role, interacting with the characters, and appearing through the three different timelines of the series. It is also the location that needed the most work and intervention from the production design team. 


Hossam says: “Al Khadrawy house holds a unique value for me because I have worked on previous projects where the location is very important, but this is the first time that I have worked on a project where the house is not only important, but does interact with people as well. Its interaction with the characters lies within its transformation into an actual character that chases and hunts Refaat down and tries to communicate and talk with him, at times even tries to kill him. And Refaat actually takes on the challenge and enters into a battle with the house. We discover that this house is moved by a very unique and weird energy”.




The locations were not the only element reflecting the series’s different eras, but costumes also played a significant role. Costume designer Dina Nadeem said, “I worked closely with Amr Salama and the whole crew to ensure that we always had a comprehensive view of the chosen colours and styles, that were true to the characters, and reflective of the three different timelines of the 1910s, 40s, and 60s,”.


The costumes had to be true to each character and reflect their own personality.  Howaida - for example- an elegant, and relatively plain young lady with basic beauty features, was dressed in a range of pastel colors that brought out her innocence and naive character. 


As for Maggie, to match her Scottish heritage, personality and field of work, a woman scientist in the 1960s, she needed outfits that made her look academic and classy, with darker colours and fabrics that reflected that.   


Special Effects - SFX

Paranormal also featured a string of mythical creatures throughout the first season, including Shiraz and the incubus. And to bring these creatures to life, the special effects team had to think outside of the box and spent months preparing to bring these creatures to life on screen. 


Islam Alex & Donia Sedky, SFX team said: “The preparation phase for Shiraz took several months and a many rehearsal sessions to reach its final look. While the SFX prepping on set consisted of a 30 minute live casting session and we spent at least 3 hours of makeup application before every shoot”.  They added saying:” As for the incubus, it took five months of preparation from the whole crew to reach its final look”. 



The series -being a thriller one- entailed various stunt scenes, which are usually the most worrisome part of filmmaking. This is due to safety concerns and the huge amount of preparation and shooting time. The tricks and techniques used during the shoot were at first impossible to imagine and execute, Amr Salama comments: “We used techniques and smart tricks for the first time in Egypt during the shoot, which the stunt team applied in other jobs following their success in Paranormal”. 


The fire scene was one of the most emotional scenes that truly affected the audience. It was quite dangerous to shoot it due to the actress’s young age and the potential risks involved. Shooting inside the dungeon was not an option, hence the production designer built an exact replica to accommodate the camera setup and shooting requirements. 


Andrew Mckinzey, Stunt coordinator clarified: “There was fire between Reem and her escape route as the cameras were outside the room looking in”. The team had to cut a secret door right behind her, allowing her to exit the scene safely at any time. 






To complete the viewers’ paranormal experience, the music had to effectively showcase all the different elements of the Paranormal world, be it family bonds, anticipation, and even loss. It was founded on four main themes that were molded into various forms to fit different situations, yet still remained recognizable. 


Khaled Al Kammar, Music Composer says, “The music was meant to create a whole universe behind the visuals, think of it as Paranormal's musical universe. We also wanted to deal with the stories as dramatic, personal, emotional stories, rather than spooky stories. That's why the generic feel of the music is emotional rather than scary,”.



Watched by the World

Paranormal”  is released in 190 countries around the world and available in over 32 languages. The series is also dubbed into 9 different languages including English, Spanish, French, Turkish, German, etc. “Paranormal” is the first Egyptian Original show that will have audio and written descriptions for disabled individuals. 






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