Budding agency shoots for the stars

Stumbling upon a specialisation was just the start of this young Maldivian tour operator. Building its reputation as a production coordinator for commercial shoots came next.

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Maldives Holidays Collections began in 2012 much like other inbound tour companies – until a request for help with commercial shooting arrangements changed its story.

The company’s foray into production coordination began with an enquiry in 2014 to help in the logistics for a free diving documentary, recalled managing director Shausha Aan Shafeeq.

Maldives Holiday Collections’ Shafeeq with Star Wars Rouge One’s director Gareth Edwards

Shausha said the team shot for 10 days in different locations, some near inhabited islands. The company arranged for all the required government permits as well as the booking of venues and hotels.

The approvals process has since gotten more difficult, requiring approval not just from the Ministry of Arts and Culture but the police too, further cementing the company’s specialised service. “There are regulations – you can’t just come here and shoot videos,” he continued.

Since then the company has helped organise logistics and other support for close to 30 productions including a 20-minute scene of the Star Wars Rogue One movie released in December 2016.

Scenes were shot at the Laamu Atoll, one of the Maldives’ largest islands, which was depicted as planet Scarif in the film.

Two companies were involved in the coordination of this gigantic exercise with Maldives Holidays Collections handling the food and accommodation.

Two container loads of equipment including weapon props were shipped for the shoot while a helicopter was borrowed from Sri Lanka.

“That was an exciting event not only for us but great promotion for the country as well,” he said.

A few more production coordination jobs have been lined up this year.

Including Maldives Holidays Collections, there are just two companies in this business in the destination, according to Shausha.

The company handles logistics ranging from applying for business visas, booking of hotels and securing of locations.

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