The Duffer Brothers, creators of Netflix’s hit sci-fi drama Stranger Things, have responded to plagiarism charges made by filmmaker Charlie Kessler. Calling it ‘completely meritless’, the creators, through an attorney, further said that Kessler had no connection to the creation or development of the show.
“The Duffer Brothers have neither seen Kessler’s short film nor discussed any project with him. This is just an attempt to profit from other people’s creativity and hard work,” their attorney was quoted as saying.
Kessler, known for his short film Montauk which premiered at the 2012 Hamptons International Film Festival, had filed a lawsuit against the Duffer Brothers alleging that he pitched “the Montauk concept” to them at a Tribeca Film Festival party in April 2014. The concept, he said, was blatantly lifted for the show. He also claimed that they used the working title The Montauk Project in the early stages of the show – setting it on Long Island instead of Indiana. He is suing for breach of implied contract and seeking monetary damages and a jury trial.
Reportedly, Montauk and Stranger Things were made many years after a 1992 book by Preston Nichols titled The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time was out which included conspiracy theories around “secret government experiments” in Montauk, Long Island. Deadline reports that Stranger Things was initially named Montauk with the following description:
Described as a love letter to the ’80s classics that captivated a generation, the series is set in 1980 Montauk, Long Island, where a young boy vanishes into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl.
Here’s a clip from Kessler’s short film: