The task this week is to reflect on the development process of writing our short film screenplays.
One of the optional tasks was to watch District 9 (dir. Neill Blomkamp, screenplay by Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell) and discuss its marketing strategy and how we might learn from it in adopting a marketing strategy for our own short film. This task led me down a few surprising roads.
My short is inspired by stories I heard relating to labor rights abuses whilst on a visa run from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain in 2019. I heard of young African men being trafficked to Bahrain with the promise of a professional footballing contract, only to find themselves working for low wages on construction sites, their passports stolen by their traffickers, only to be returned when their debts for transport etc had been paid.
A familiar story?
Right. Qatar and the labor migrants from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and other countries working on the world cup stadiums. The number of young men who have died whilst working on these construction sites, as reported by The Guardian, are shocking. More than 6,500, in fact.
We’ve heard stories about families of these labor violations victims not being compensated. Fathers leaving families at home never to return, their sons and daughters and wives never hearing from them again. Not only that, but we’ve heard of men being trapped, their passports kept by their employers and not allowed to leave, for very low wages, breaking international labor and human rights laws.
My short screenplay explores a brutal football underworld, where young men are trafficked, dreams are shattered, hearts are broken and lives are wasted – all to satisfy the blood lust and economic avarice of our world’s most villainous superrich.
Reports from Qatar on labor abuses and the stories I heard about trafficking victims in Bahrain fit together well.
Furthermore, the video game element of District 9 provided further inspiration as I adopted a virtual reality game element into my screenplay, again which seemed to fit like a boot.
My set is now a football stadium in construction. Technicians from Bangladesh and Nepal. My protagonist is an ex-child soldier, trafficked to the UK from Tigray with dreams of being a pro soccer player and my antagonist is an Indian billionaire / Bitcoin trader / Salvador Dali art collector based in Bahrain.
I’m looking forward to developing this project further this week and submitting for peer feedback in our designated groups.
- Steve Edwards – MA Writing for Script & Screen. 31.10.21