977's Unsolicited yet Copyrighted Pitch #6: THE MYSTERY OF FLANNAN ISLES
So the backstory is this: in 1900, seemingly in the middle of a meal, all three lighthouse keepers manning the lonely lighthouse on Scotland's Flannan Isles mysteriously disappeared without a trace, leading to more than a century of paranormal speculation and rational investigation that has still yet to produce a suitable and satisfactory explanation of events. Using this historical anecdote as a jumping-off point, I humbly present the pitch for The Mystery of Flannan Isles: A Charles Fort Adventure.
We open with our three, ill-fated lighthouse keepers enjoying the above-mentioned meal. Outside the weather is frightful, a strong storm is blowing off the sea and bringing wind and rain and crashing waves against the Isles' stone cliffs. Suddenly a frightful sound is heard, a cry like screeching metal or something mammoth screaming. The keepers are startled and exit the lighthouse to investigate. At the west landing, they find significant structural damage to iron railings and wooden platforms, too high above sea level to have been caused by waves. Then the sound again, and - without seeing their assailant - we watch the three keepers picked off one by one by something whose appearance turns the expressions of the hardened men to those of terrified children. The men dead, the sound slinks away, the storm rages on unwatched.
Cut to Eastern Europe, a small village in a mountainous range, gypsy-inhabited but for two men, both dressed in the academic fashion of the day, both in their mid-thirties. They are Charles Fort, paranormal investigator, and his assistant, Stanley Pelkington (who I'm picturing being played by Rhett Giles and Jay Gillespie, respectively), and they are here to investigate some supernatural phenomena such as red rain or strange lights, any of the myriad phenomena detailed in "The Complete Books of Charles Fort," (an outstanding read) that serve to introduce the man and his particular field of study, as well as his assistant's rational, scientific, skeptical and Scully-esque counter-approach. As he is wrapping up his research, a cable comes from London informing him on the occurrence at Flannan Isles. His curiosity piqued, they leave at once.
Once in Flannan Isles, CF finds the locals not at all eager to share what they know about the disappearance, any other disappearances on the island or their suspicions as to the cause of the disappearance, almost as though they are guarding a secret for their own, superstitious curiosity. Every small town distrusts outsiders, especially rural citizens against a cosmopolitan denizen like CF, but they are especially distrustful when they are a centuries-old small community isolated from the rest of the world on a small chain of islands in the North Atlantic. So CF will find little help here. His first obstacle is Finn, the caretaker of the Flannan Isles Lighthouse and a former keeper himself, not returned to the job until the Northern Lighthouse Board can find a suitable, more permanent replacement. Finn won't give any details other than to stir CF's preternatural leanings by admonishing that there are some answers better left undiscovered, some things man wasn't meant to be able to understand, only fear and respect.
CF begins to study his books on local lore and tests or researches the possibilities rational (washed away, murder/suicide, abducted by pirates) and irrational (ghost ship, sea serpent, fabled monster bird) but it isn't until he meets the daughter of one of the disappeared keepers, the lovely lass Siobhan (The 7 Adventures of Sinbad's Kelly O'Leary) that CF becomes convinced the disappearance wasn't a rational thing at all. Seems Siobhan's old man had reservations about taking the job in the first place because of rumors of a ghostly serpent taller than the isles who appears during great storms and tries to smash the island to bits with the fury of waves. This ghost-serpent is supposedly the reason the lighthouse was erected here centuries ago, at the utmost northwest corner of Scotland: to guard the UK against spectral invasion from the wild, unknown, ephemeral Arctic regions. When her dad turned up missing, Siobhan knew the serpent was somehow responsible. Armed with this new knowledge and teammate, CF and crew investigate the creature and - without giving away too many act two and three twists - discover the only way it can be vanquished is to confront it and capture it in a stone reputed to be it's eye hardened to gem once plucked from its head by the lance of a long-ago lighthouse keeper. So Fort must find this stone, then this serpent, then capture it face to face if he is to save the island from its supernatural threat.
The nice thing, I think, about this pitch is the franchise it opens. Charles Fort, as the link above attests, was a real dude, the so-called "inventor of the supernatural," and, cinematically speaking, a kind of Indiana Jones of the paranormal, a Sherlock Holmes of the otherworld. Fort's books provide dozens above dozens of launching-pads for the sort of steampunk paranormal amalgam we saw in Rachel Lee Goldenberg's Sherlock Holmes. In fact, she'd be a great choice to direct this flagship film. She could even co-write with me, if she wanted; I'm amiably collaborative like that.
I'm just sayin'.