Story by Vonnie Maddox and Aqeel Fikree
And we’re back with our behind the scenes ofÂ â€˜Levity Xero Error Minus1â€² feature stories, today we introduce you toÂ Mohamed Yousouf, one of the main actors and composer of the official song for the movie.
Phat Mo a.k.a Mohamed Youssouf
Somali origin, citizen of Djibouti, born in Kuwait, raised in UAE, studied in Illinois. How you like THEM apples?
Position/s for Levity:
A â€œhumanâ€ role; play the character â€œIna Rabyâ€ (which translates to Rabyâ€™s son in Somali) who is throwing the â€œend of the worldâ€ party + contributed original song â€œLevityâ€
Ahhhâ€¦no thanks!!! I am the dude and the dude abides. Iâ€™m a comedian, rapper and screenwriter. I don’t work for anybody, they all work for me. hahahaha. HAHAHA. MUWAHAHA; and it gets progressively louder. ( i can send u a bio. i hate writing about myself, especially at 3.30am but the bio is really cool)
How long have you been doing this?
Why, what have you heard? Iâ€™ve been performing comedy on stage and on television in Dubai since 2001 ish. Iâ€™ve been rapping since i was conceived which is when I wrote Jamie Foxxâ€™s Â â€Blame itâ€
How did you find out about Xero Error / Levity?
How else but through Ashrafâ€™s blog â€œin weed we trustâ€ and I had also worked with Waqqas on the hit tv game show: â€œWhats the deal with Musharaf?â€. The truth: Adnan, who plays one of the reporters, knows me and had mentioned Ashraf and the gang were looking for a comedian to play one of the parts in this film. I asked him what it was about and he started saying â€œwell itsâ€¦â€ and then i cut him off and said â€œiâ€™m inâ€.
How do you feel about how Levity is doing at film festivals, and the exposure itâ€™s getting?
I love it. Its amazing that we actually, towards the end of production, were saying: how crazy would it be if we got into Cannes?. And by Godâ€™s grace, we got into Cannes. Thats just insane to me. More power to the guys.
When do you come into the picture?
I think around minute 5 or so!! I started in Jan of 2010 with them.
Anything that was a challenge for you?
Transportation. There was no craft service. Didnâ€™t have a trailer. They kept saying: â€œwhy donâ€™t we get the black guy to say something funny here?â€
Not really. Actually come to think about it. Wait, iâ€™ll backtrack. This film was made by people passionate about filmmaking and storytelling. And so, resources were scarce. We didn’t have Avatar money. We didn’t even have Avatarâ€™s budget for toiletries!! So, it was letâ€™s get this from this person, letâ€™s ask that person for their help with this, etcâ€¦ And if anybody refuses, send the black guy. The scenes we shot on â€œgreen screenâ€ were in one of the guysâ€™ friendâ€™s villa. We used one of the rooms in this coupleâ€™s house. The small room was lit like a studio. Hot would be an understatement. The air conditioning was turned off for sound. About 6 or 7 people are in this little room, sweating, Â holding lights, recording, directing, trying to figure out how to keep the green cloth hanging from the wall (kept dropping every few minutes) and the damn cat wouldn’t stop running around, sneaking in and causing havoc. It was the best experience i had because not one person complained and we just kept laughing at every mishap.
You have to understand, itâ€™s not easy to make a film here. So when you get to make a film here, itâ€™s exciting. The challenge is containing your excitement and delivering lines or doing your job properly coz you end up having wayyy too much.
How you handled it?
Like a pro, baby, like a pro. Itâ€™s not the hand that youâ€™re dealt, itâ€™s how you play your cards.
Anything you would do different?
Me? For sure. Because I improvised a lot, I always get better lines on the way home and Iâ€™m like â€œdamn, why didn’t I think of that before?â€. Â Mind you this is a 8 minute short film where I appear for maybe a minute? I pity the director who has to work with me on a feature, so the short answer would be: longer improv scenes.
Do the work with love and honesty, you never know where it will lead you. Say yes to things you otherwise wouldn’t try. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would work on a CG sci-fi film in Dubai and play a comedic role and that film would travel the world.
Tell me about the green screening, recording audio in sound booth, etc.
I mentioned the green screen earlier. The recording studio is my favorite spot on earth. Its home to me. We just had a lot of laughs. I was riffinâ€™ and those guys were cracking up and i thought if they laughed then maybe others would too. And Ashraf and Waqas were cool and open to me improvising which is always a bonus.
Did you enjoy it, was there anything that was difficult or surprised you about it?
I enjoyed it immensely. Nothing difficult or surprising except maybe some of my punchlines.
Was this your first acting job?
No, iâ€™ve been doing it for a while. I have done a number of sketch comedy shows for television and so i was comfortable. Also i perform my music and comedy on stage so it was all gravy, baby.
What inspired you for the music for Levity?
The story. XE7 comes back to document how we screwed up our world. I took that idea and developed it more and the song was created. Itâ€™s the ever present notion of going too far and then asking for redemption. Greed, thatâ€™s what is going to get us at the end and the only one who will survive is Gordon Gecko. This is why the song starts with : â€œplease forgive me, I didn’t mean to do thisâ€¦..â€
What equipment and/or software did you use?
The pharynx and the encephalon.
What about the team; do you feel you were part of a team and that the team members were supportive and helpful?
They couldâ€™ve paid a brother, thatâ€™s all Iâ€™m saying, they couldâ€™ve paid a brother!!
How important do you think that was, or affected the making of this film?
I wouldâ€™ve been much funnier if i was paid. Listen, just coz you gave me some juice and sandwiches does not mean that weâ€™re cool. We ainâ€™t cool!!
No but seriously it was great to have the team spirit and everyone being on point and trying to help Ashraf make the film he wanted to make.
What the future looking like for phat mo?
Dark…. very dark….
Spot Phat Mo in the trailer
Ashraf Ghori presents an XPANSE CGI production "XERO ERROR" Directed by Ashraf Ghori Produced by Xpanse CGI.
All names and characters appearing in this film including Xero Error, XE7, Facet, Bushman, Retrospectre, ACYD, The Admin, Levity and Virtual Geographic © Xpanse CGI 2010. All rights reserved.