Introduce Yourself : I think I have found a home? by Shiv Maharaj

Shiv Maharaj

I think I have found a home?

Hi everyone,

My name is Shiv Maharaj, I'm a Marketing Manager by day and a Screenwriter by night. 

I was born in Suva, Fiji, raised in Auckland, New Zealand and I currently reside in Vancouver, Canada. 

Aside from writing, I have directed a short and worked as an Assistant Director and Production Coordinator on two other shorts and a small indie project.

I am equal parts geek and sports fanatic. I love events like San Diego Comic Con and it's New Zealand equivalent, the Armageddon Expo. I grew up reading comics and have amassed a small collection of 700 titles. My top 10 films of all time include:

- Hell or high water

- Saving private Ryan

- The Dark Knight

- Good will hunting 

- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

- Steve Jobs

- Get Out

- Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

- Bourne Ultimatum 

- Nightcrawler 

Honorable mentions: Better Watch Out, The Terminal, The Replacements, The Way Way Back, Gladiator, Jerry Maguire, Remember the Titans, Invisible Man, A Quiet Place, Gifted, Sweet Smell of Success, Rain Man, Words on Bathroom Walls, Games Night,  21 Jump Street, Manchester By The Sea, Thor Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy.

I was undefeated as an amateur boxer and I love watching boxing, the NFL, NCAAF, NBA, NCAAB and NHL.

I have taken a number of screenwriting courses, but I can't wait to explore some of the courses and services that Stage32 has to offer. I am also naturally an introvert and COVID has exacerbated that, but I am genuinely looking forward to networking and making new colleagues and friends. 

Shadow Dragu-Mihai

Welcome here!

B A Mason

You've definitely picked the right community to join. Don't be shy to share your work for some second-hand opinions, or giving your own second-hand opinions on others works. Cheers from a fellow Vancouverite!

Shiv Maharaj

Thank you, Shadow Dragu-Mihai, I appreciate the warm welcome

Shiv Maharaj

Thank you, B A Mason I am super happy to see another Vancouverite on here and I really do appreciate the advice. Also, I love your profile photo!

Dawn Prato

It's always nice to see more Vancouverites joining up! Hi Shiv, and welcome :)

Shiv Maharaj

Hi Dawn Prato, thank you, I really appreciate the warm welcome. I moved to Van just under 2 years ago for work and outside of work friends and family friends I haven't met a lot of other people, so it is really good to know that there are people in Van with similar interests.

Joanna Karselis

Strong top 10 Shiv, what a list! Welcome to the site.

Shiv Maharaj

Thank you, Joanna Karselis, funnily enough I was just thinking to myself maybe it's time I re-review my list, but then again those are definitely 10 screenplays that I wish I wrote.

James Welday

Hey Shiv, pleased to meet you! Happy to network and bounce ideas if you ever need an extra set of eyes on a project.

Joanna Karselis

Shiv Maharaj There are so many films in there (and in your extended list) that I absolutely love, especially Hell Or High Water- massively underrated modern classic. I listen to that soundtrack so often! It's really interesting that you were an amateur boxer but don't have any boxing films on your list, can I ask why that is? (thinking about it, as a composer, I don't have any films about musicians in my top 10- perhaps it's a being too close to the source thing!)

Shiv Maharaj

Joanna Karselis I couldn't agree with you more, Hell or High Water taught me how structure and rich characters can turn a simplistic plot into an captivating Oscar worthy story. Taylor Sheridan is easily one of my Top 5 Screenwriters of all time, his work on Sicario and Wind River, both movies that are mysteriously missing from my list, have taught me many lessons on how to improve my own screenplays.

With regards to boxing movies, I am actually shocked at my own oversight. The Rocky series of movies were on replay in my house growing up, I am also a fan of the Creed spinoffs and other boxing movies like Raging Bull, Southpaw and Hands of Stone. I think you may be right when you mention being too close to something may ultimately detract from the viewing experience? If I do a deep dive one of the reasons why I think I have omitted them is because I am so critical of the boxing technique on display. This is mostly because I was a very peculiar boxer in that I wasn't fast, I didn't have punching power, I wasn't fleet footed or to be honest all that coordinated, but what I did have was an unequalled boxing IQ. I grew up watching the sport and idolizing many boxers, but I never believed I could be a boxer myself. It wasn't till later in life, when I was in my late twenties that I decided to give the sport a go. My years of fanfare, coupled with an OCD like approach to making sure I never embarrassed myself (I am unfortunately very driven by the need of external validation) meant that I trained six days a week, twice a day and that when I wasn't training I would be studying boxing; whether I was studying my own sparring footage or fights of professional fighters - essentially I had no social life. In the end, I had six journals of notes on how to improve and what I needed to work on. So when I watch a lot of boxing films I tend to marvel at how inaccurate some parts of the sport is depicted, however that is hardly any reason to blame the screenwriting as in many cases the stories are exactly what they need to be: uplifting character pieces painted against the background of a sport and so I may need to add some boxing movies to my list!

On the note of movies about composers, I don't think I know a lot of them, would you recommend any? Or alternatively would you recommend any movies for their scores alone?

Shiv Maharaj

Thank you, James Welday. I will 100% take you up on that offer and please do feel free to share any thoughts or work with me as well.

Shiv Maharaj

Thank you, Aray Brown. I read the script shortly after watching the film, as I often do, and I have to completely agree with you: something about the nuance of Lou Bloom is lost when translated to screen. That said I would have still loved to see Jake get an Oscar for his performance.

With regards to Jason I actually emailed him on the weekend with a request for help with something. I'll give him some time to respond before asking a wider audience as I'm in no rush :)

Joanna Karselis

Shiv Maharaj So with you on Hell Or High Water, it's such a study on character. Wind River is on my to-watch pile at the moment, I'll have to bump it up the order if you rate it!

That's really insightful about your boxing career and how you approached it with such thoroughness, and I think it must be a similar thing to how I feel watching people "playing music" in film and TV. I've played violin and piano my entire life and like you have been very, very thorough in understanding the technique behind it. Films just don't seem to even try to get it right. I can't begin to tell you the amount of times I've been cringing and unable to watch in front of a fake violin or piano playing scene- it's worse than a horror movie sometimes! I know you're right about the important thing being the character development shown through the action, but it can be very hard to get over it sometimes as it really takes you out of the film and into your own head again; perhaps that's just something I need to work on not being so bothered about.

Well, there are a lot of composers in the world and they're all very different! It depends what kind of thing you're into (I've picked my favourites here, which are probably quite different to what a lot of people will say, so, this is definitely more of an alternative list of great composers). If you're looking for classic Hollywood, Max Steiner's score for Gone With The Wind (hate the movie love the music) or Franz Waxman's score for Rebecca are good places to start. For more experimental classic scores a good example is Wendy Carlos' The Shining. For a modern orchestral twist, John Williams is the best (literally anything by him apart from maybe his Warhorse score), or for alternative use of orchestra, composers like Rachel Portman (Never Let Me Go), Terence Blanchard (Black KkKlansman), Randy Newman (Monsters Inc or Toy Story for a more jazz-inflected modern orchestra), Michael Abels (Us) or Craig Armstrong (Romeo and Juliet) are great. A lot of modern film music looks very different to what's come before, and the first film with a very successful ambient score was The Social Network by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. I'm a big fan of them generally, as well as Thomas Newman (The Green Mile and American Beauty are good introductions to him). My personal favourites are people like Mica Levi (Under The Skin), Nicholas Brittell (Moonlight), Hildur Guonadottir (Joker), Geoff Barrow and Ben Sailsbury (Annihilation), Johan Johansson (Sicario) and of course Nick Cave and Warren Ellis for Hell Or High Water. I can't think of any films off the top of my head that have a great score but aren't that good a film, but I seem to have named quite a lot of composers there so hopefully it gives you some ideas of composers to check out. Sorry it's so long, I get a bit carried away with these things!

Kinney Scott

hi ,welcome (:

Karen "Kay" Ross

Hey, Shiv Maharaj! My name is Kay, I'm the Community Manager here at Stage 32. If you'd like to learn more about myself and the Stage32 Team, we have an intro blog: https://www.stage32.com/blog/Meet-the-Stage-32-Team Nice to meet you and welcome to the community! Yes, definitely in the right community!

I totally agree with Good Will Hunting and Gladiator, although why not LotR: Fellowship or Two Towers? We watch all three every year for Thanksgiving :-D

I’m sure you’ve already discovered the Screenwriting Lounge (https://www.stage32.com/lounge/screenwriting), but definitely reach out on the Acting Lounge (https://www.stage32.com/lounge/acting) for insight into characters, dialogue, and even when you want to generate interest in a virtual table read!

Keep in mind that these lounges are like the VIP Filmmaker's Lounges at Film Festivals, so this is where you can meet the people doing the work, get advice on anything you're working on, and/or give back to those who may need advice. We're a very supportive and encouraging community! I think you'd also enjoy my intro blog post on how to engage with the Stage32 Community:

https://www.stage32.com/blog/Find-Your-Community-on-Stage-32

Enjoy exploring the lounges, and don't forget to comment and respond to others’ posts, too! It's the best way to really connect! And, of course, feel free to reach out at any time. Cheers!

Shiv Maharaj

Joanna Karselis, regarding Wind River, the structure of the film is far more simplistic than Hell or High Water or Sicario and it is far clearer who the real villain of the story is, because of all that it wraps up in a neatly contained way. Now I think that does make the movie far more accessible to general audiences, but far less impactful when compared to Hell or High Water or Sicario. Nevertheless, definitely let me know if you like the movie or not!

I have always wondered if real musicians notice how an actor places their fingers on the strings of a guitar or on the keys of a piano, so you've definitely answered that question for me. And with more thought I actually think it is a good thing that we hold other artists dabbling in our passions to a higher standard. After all, if we don't hold them accountable, then others won't be able to share in the beauty of our experiences.

I am in awe of every movie and composer that you have named! I can name one composer off the top of my head, Hans Zimmer, and that is it. I feel really embarrassed now and so I am 100% going to check out all your movie suggestions with respect to their score.

Shiv Maharaj

Thank you, Kinney! I appreciate the warm welcome :)

Shiv Maharaj

Thank you for the links and guidance Kay! I am slowly finding my way around and so the crash course you've just given me is super helpful! With regards to movies, I'm glad we share an appreciation for Good Will Hunting and Gladiator :). As for LOTR Fellowship of the Ring and Two Towers, I do not have a good reason to give you. It really is a cop out on my part and I do apologize to both you and Peter Jackson. I will say this though: my favorite scene across the LOTR and even the Hobbit movies is a tiny little scene that doesn't involve a fiery being of darkness or an epic last stand, my favorite scene involves these seven words "My friends, you bow to no one" - the message behind that scene, the amount of love and respect, I broke down crying when watching that in cinemas.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Shiv Maharaj I totally get that. For me, it's a scene in Fellowship, the extended edition, "I asked for a single hair from her golden head, and she gave me three". Gets me EVERY TIME. Hell, I'm tearing up right now! LOL!

Shiv Maharaj

@Karen "Kay" Ross Oh how I adore how smitten Gimli is with Galadriel! I understand why the scene was cut from the theatrical release, but I really do love that scene too.

Django Van Den Busken

Hi Shiv, interesting how you're both a marketeer and a scriptwriter! Do you use your abilities as a marketeer to market and distribute your films?

Martin Reese

Welcome, Shiv. You have over 700 comics? I have a few more than that, but who's counting. And I still collect them. LOL! Nice to meet a fellow comic book fan. Nice list of films you have.

Shiv Maharaj

Hahaha Martin, that is awesome that you still collect them! I haven’t read a paper copy of anything in a long time, If I ever have a itch to read something I tend to use Comixology. It’s really not the same, but I don’t have the space to store anymore comics or TPB’s. What titles do you collect out of curiosity?

Martin Reese

Hey, Shiv Maharaj. I usually get special issues in print nowadays. Things like 50th issues or 1st issues. I go a lot digital now. My comic book shop closed before the pandemic. I read Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men, Justice League, The Avengers, The Immortal Hulk, Fantastic Four, Batman, The Flash. There are a number of others, but you get the idea.

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