Charlie Kessler says he made the short film in 2012 as a teaser for a feature film to be called “The Montauk Project.” He alleges that he pitched the idea to Matt and Ross Duffer, the co-creators of the Netflix sci-fi hit, when they met at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014. Kessler says the idea went nowhere at the time, but the Duffer brothers used it as the germ for “Stranger Things,” which debuted in 2016.
The Duffer brothers’ attorney, Alex Kohner, issued a statement on Wednesday, calling the claim “completely meritless.”
“He had no connection to the creation or development of ‘Stranger Things,'” Kohner wrote. “The Duffer Brothers have neither seen Mr. 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.”
The short film uses found footage to tell a story about paranormal phenomena in the vicinity of a government facility. “Stranger Things,” which was originally sold to Netflix under the title “Montauk,” also involves supernatural phenomena surrounding a government lab. The setting for the show was later shifted to Indiana.
Neither project originated the idea of mysterious happenings surrounding a government facility on Long Island. A book, “The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time,” was published in 1992, and tells of repressed memories of secret government experiments at Montauk’s Camp Hero. Versions of the story have circulated on conspiracy sites for many years. Some of the “Stranger Things” cast have alluded to the connection, saying in a Wired interview that the show was based on stories about Camp Hero.
Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment.