Paul Mahoney.

Screenwriter Paul Mahoney was sorely disappointed when pre-production on his first movie Ruby’s Choice was halted two weeks before shooting was due to start – but he is getting plenty of traction on three other features.

Los Angeles-based producer Rosemary Marks (Thirteen) is teaming up with Australian John Tsambazis on Do It Scared, Mahoney’s screenplay based on the true story of Maltese-born Rob Galea’s roller-coaster journey from rebellious, drug-dealing gang member to a teenager with a hit single, priest and X-Factor semi-finalist.

Freshwater Pictures’ Trish Lake has boarded Elvis Town, the saga of a reporter with an Elvis Presley phobia who is reunited with his estranged mother, co-written by Mahoney and Stephen Lance, with Mairi Cameron and Lance set to co-direct.

Alan Arumugam of YSA Screen Media and Kanesh Mohana Sundaram of GVKM Elephant Pictures are in late development on action-thriller ARK-13, co-written by Mukund Ramanan and Mahoney,

Producer-director Michael Budd was forced to call a halt on Ruby’s Choice due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jane Seymour is attached to play the title role, a loving grandmother who has dementia.

Coco Jack Gillies will portray her 16-year-old granddaughter Tash, who goes from hating to loving her as she discovers some family secrets.

Mahoney tells IF: “Michael Budd definitely made the right decision to ensure everyone’s health and safety. We’re 100 per cent committed to making Ruby’s Choice once it is safe to resume and Australia returns to normal life.

“It’s a heart-warming and inspiring story that has the support of the Dementia Care International. It takes the reader on an emotional roller-coaster from laughter to becoming teary-eyed and has a satisfying ending.”

The Brisbane-based Mahoney grew up in regional Victoria, worked on his parents’ dairy farm, at the local Post Office and at a milk factory packing butter and never considered a career in the film industry.

Later he worked as an administration officer at a hospital, a disability and aged care case manager, housing officer and fleet manager.

When he turned 40 he took up writing, inspired by neighbour Bruce Cooke, who had his first book published when he was in his 70s.

After Elvis Town won the Euroscript Screenwriting Competition for emerging screenwriters in 2016 he was contacted by Lance and Lake, who had been looking to do a project together for some time.

Lance agreed to co-write, bringing fresh ideas to the table and developing the relationship between the reporter Ted and his mother, the mayor of a small country town who resolves to save the town by staging an Elvis impersonator festival – Ted’s worst nightmare.

Cameron joined the team, Lake signed a deal with international sales agent Moviehouse Entertainment and earlier this year Screen Queensland funded a writer’s room conducted by LA-based screenwriting consultant Wendall Thomas.

On Do It Scared, Tsambazis originally approached Marks and her husband Adrian Carr with a view to Adrian directing, which he accepted. They felt the script needed work, Tsambazis agreed so Marks checked out Australian writers via Ink Tip, liked one of Mahoney’s and got in touch.

“It has been a blast collaborating with Paul on the script. Now all we need is the financing,” Rosemary tells IF. The story takes place in Malta and Australia so they aim to take advantage of the incentives offered in both countries.

Mahoney was introduced to writer-director Arumugam by a mutual friend, producer James Lingwood at a Screen Queensland coffee catch-up. Created by Arumugam and set on a tropical island, ARK-13 follows a drug trafficking victim and local villagers who clash with a local crime syndicate in the fight for freedom.-

The producers are in talks with multiple partners overseas and casting is underway for the lead roles.

Arumugam’s latest film, psychological horror movie AIYAI: Wrathful Soul was due to roll out in cinemas in Australia, South East Asia, the Gulf countries and Sri Lanka in February but that was postponed due to COVID-19.

As for Mahoney, he says: “For the past few years I have been doing temp work in Brisbane. Like many others, I’d love to work full-time in the industry but that’s not always possible, so many times I’m writing after I get home from work and on weekends.”