SHELF LIFE…

Posted: August 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

The time I spend on writing a screenplay is meticulous and immeasurable. First there’s the structuring process where most of my brain cells are used to the limit. It could turn out to be a long and exhausting process stretching from days to months. But this is the process where the look of my screenplays is shaped and re-shaped repeatedly.

Once structuring is over, writing starts next. And for me, this process is the easiest. All I have to do is go through my structure and then type out everything I have noted, in to scenes. I have found this method very safe and effective since during writing I find myself immune from a writer’s block. The latter has the chance to terrorize my head only at the structuring process. And if I make it through that process without a writer’s block, then it’s definite that I won’t get any thereafter.

During the writing process, my mind splits in to a writer mode and a director mode. While I write, in my head I am able to visualize each and every scene just like a director does, since I have been a director myself once. I am always in full control playing, rewinding, fast forwarding or if need be, watch each scene in slow motion as I write them. And every time, my visualizations come with 5.1 surround sound.

Also while I write, creativity is at its fullest. Mostly, the structure and the notes from the structuring process gets changed and re-changed easily while they are written in to full-fledged scenes.

During the past ten years or more, I have written screenplays for feature films, short films, long and short TV serials and television dramas.

All the television dramas I have written were made in to, well, television dramas. And all of them were aired on TVM. Out of these, most were written for Ministry of Atolls Administration, the office I worked at that time to be submitted in the Office TV Drama Competition conducted by TVM several years ago. Under my guidance, Atolls participated for five consecutive years.

From the long and short TV serials, all were produced and had successful runs and re-runs. Only a 13 episode serials called NULIBUNAS… (THOUGH NOT ATTAINED), given away without any pay off for Movie People was put on hold after principal photography. The studio failed to lure a TV channel to buy the series. Future of NULIBUNAS… still remains uncertain. At the time of writing this post, its producer is thinking alternate ways to cover the investment, like releasing each episode on DVD.

KEVVEVEYNAMA… (IF YOU CAN COPE), a 12 episode serial I wrote for VTV to this date remains a series where I haven’t a clue of its whereabouts. Not even sure if it’s shelved or lost. For the sake of keeping up with the title of this post, consider it shelved.

Out of the three short film screenplays, only one got produced. It was released on DVD as a comedy and was flopped. Here’s one of those rare situations where a flop is considered a huge satisfaction than the screenplay of the said flop being shelved forever.

It was with feature length screenplays where things have turned out all too sour. Most of the screenplays I have written were shelved by its producers. Since I was paid only to write, I find myself helpless to react to their decisions. But on the brighter side, except for two screenplays, rest was paid. Then again, to find them lying on the producer’s shelf forever, is more frustrating.

Here’s a brief look at all the screenplays I have written so far which were shelved for some reasons I know and some I don’t.

AN UNTITLED SCREENPLAY

This screenplay, which does have a title but concealed for reasons classified, I co-wrote with my writing partner Zareer more than 10 years ago. To this date, this screenplay hasn’t aged a bit. As years have passed, this screenplay still remains potent and delivers a strong message that has become more appropriate to our society today.

Roughly five years ago, this screenplay was proposed to a now-dissolved studio upon a request of its owner. Baaru Sharee was agreed to direct. Sharee and I even negotiated with high profile actor, Youppe and his wife, Fareela for the lead. However, months later, our screenplay was rejected and since then it’s been lying on the shelf, waiting quietly to be acquired by a positive producer.

CIB: VATHAN

This is an indirect sequel to Seezan directed short film CIB: 24. It’s about an elite group of police force working for a secret government organization. I wrote the sequel with several twists and turns including a high-octane car chase and few other intense set pieces. The reason this sequel was shelved was straightforward. Seezan felt that it was too high tech and technical and demanded a budget too huge for a short film.

GENIE

Director Fatthaah hired me to write this screenplay as a fantasy short film for children. But when the studio he was working at that time was dissolved, the screenplay was shelved until he joined Dash Studio, where he is presently working at. He hired me once again to rewrite it into a feature length film with new and more enhanced characters including visually stunning set pieces. Once the rewrite was completed, Fatthaah had talks with Baaru Sharee asking him to direct the visually demanding scenes. Sharee even agreed to the deal. However, due to a long delay in finding child actors for principal roles, the screenplay was once again shelved.

VAKIVUMUGE KURIN (BEFORE PARTING)

Suja who’s presently a producer at VTV asked me to write this screenplay based on a short story he wrote. It was first titled MARUVUMEGEKURIN (BEFORE DYING). After some financial hassles in settling my payment, Movie Maldives owner Shakeeb eventually paid for the screenplay after buying the story rights from Suja. Shakeeb then re-titled it to VAKIVUMUGEKURIN (BEFORE PARTING) and sent it straight to his shelf.

Every now and then, talks on producing it erupt like a volcano. But every time, instead of lava shooting straight up, everything just dies away. But on July 30, 2010, at a meeting I had with Youppe, Shakeeb joined us. Once again I mentioned this screenplay to the interest of them both. I am not told how the negotiation went after I had left the meeting.

00:00

I first started developing this under the name MENDHAN (MIDNIGHT) as a television drama for Atolls but declined from producing due to the subject matter being too dark. That was more than 10 years ago. Then on 2008, I started work on writing it into a feature length screenplay. Luckily I had all my old notes for reference. After a discussion with Baaru Sharee, who was first attached to direct it, the title was changed to 00:00 (ZERO HUNDRED HOURS). Unfortunately, Sharee joined DhiTV during that time and got himself busy. Eventually, he had to leave the project. Then director Ravi stepped in, he negotiated with DV Productions to acquire it as a directing vehicle for him.

Things went smoothly at first. 00:00 was made official but DV Productions gave more attention to their more bankable projects. Unfortunately pre-production of 00:00 stopped and found its way to, yes the shelf. But a month ago, I heard from Ravi who has joined DV Productions recently that 00:00 is slated to start production at the end of this year. Now that’s something positive.

ROAD

Pre-production of this supernatural-horror-thriller which I wrote for producer Thitthi for his Antharees Productions started off promisingly. Its chosen director, Ravi and CGI Supervisor, Ishee even started on testing visual effect needed for the film. However, yet again this screenplay faced the same fate of lying on a shelf rather than in the hands of its director.

Thitthi who is currently in Perth said once he returns next year, he’d resume pre-production. Now let’s wait and see what lies ahead on the road for ROAD.

RAANIYAA

This screenplay, where the title refers to the protagonist, too had its pre-production started. It was originally a project Dash Studio started years ago. This project was helmed by editor/ director, Semi but was halted indefinitely after 90% of production was completed. Years later, the studio owner wanted a reboot. The task fell in to the hands of Fatthaah, who at the time had joined the studio. He assigned me for the rewrite immediately. I completed a total revamp of the screenplay and made it more adult oriented from the teenage setting of the original screenplay. It was written by my favorite writer, Aishath Neena. I wrote VAA LOABI ENGEYNAMA… (IF YOU KNEW HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU) based on her story.

After the facelift, at the very early stages of pre-production, RAANIYA came to a halt when the songs needed for this film started getting delayed. Fatthaah didn’t want to start principal photography without them. He now reports to begin production next year.

LEYKARUNAIN (TEARS IN BLOOD)

Another screenplay I wrote for Fatthaah which kept changing production date constantly due to the long delays in composing the songs for the film. Hopefully in mid October this year, principal photography of this film is set to start. Those are exact words of Fatthaah, not mine.

VAFAATHERI KEHIVERIYAA (FAITHFUL TRICKSTER)

I think now I have the right to say that I was tricked in to writing this screenplay. After scouting for locations in Nuwara Eliya by its director, this screenplay found its rightful place, the shelf. And I was left without being paid for my work.

MAMMA (MOTHER)

This is the second screenplay I have written for which I haven’t been paid so far, even if it was a draft. Even at that stage, the screenplay includes the whole outline of the film itself. Now I am hearing that this is going behind cameras soon. Well at least this screenplay has been saved from the shelf curse. But I just wonder how much of my draft the producer has borrowed for completing their version of the final screenplay.

INDHIRAAS (DECADENCE)

It’s been less than two months since I have handed over this screenplay to DV PRODUCTIONS. So this screenplay couldn’t be considered officially shelved. Not just yet. Pre-production is set to start in October. I am just hoping that this screenplay doesn’t slip in to its own decadence…

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