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Long Island native says ‘Stranger Things’ is based on his film

Brothers Ross, left, and Matt Duffer, creators of

Brothers Ross, left, and Matt Duffer, creators of Netflix's "Stranger Things," at the premiere of the show's second season in Los Angeles in October 2017. Credit: Getty Images / Frazer Harrison

A Long Island native is suing the creators of “Stranger Things,” alleging they stole the show’s concept from him.

Charlie Kessler, a director and producer from East Northport, said he presented an idea for a movie called “The Montauk Project,” based on a short film he made in 2012, to Matt and Ross Duffer in April 2014. Kessler said he never heard from the brothers again and was upset to see “Stranger Things” premiere on Netflix in July 2016 with what he said is a similar storyline.

In a suit filed in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County on April 2, Kessler argues the brothers and their associates used the ideas he presented in the meeting for their hit show and never credited him. He is seeking more than $25,000 in damages and lost profits and wants the brothers to destroy all materials based on his ideas.

An attorney for the brothers released a statement Wednesday afternoon, calling the suit a “meritless” attempt to “profit from other people’s creativity and hard work.” The attorney, Alex Kohner, denied the brothers ever met with Kessler.

“He had no connection to the creation or development of ‘Stranger Things.’ The Duffer Brothers have neither seen Mr. Kessler’s short film nor discussed any project with him,” Kohner said in the statement.

Netflix did not respond to a request for comment. Kessler did not return a message left at a phone number listed for him.

According to the suit, Kessler, created “Montauk” in 2012 as a teaser to his larger idea for “Camp Hero,” renamed “The Montauk Project.” The short film, about supernatural events surrounding Camp Hero in Montauk, was shown at the Hamptons International Film Festival in 2012.

For his intended follow-up film, Kessler said in the suit that he wrote a story about a young boy who disappeared near Camp Hero and a group of people, led by a “cop with a haunted past,” who seek to find him. The boy had supernatural abilities, such as telekinesis and the ability to control the weather, but secret government testing of his abilities led to the release of a monster from “an alien world.”

Kessler said he registered a script for “The Montauk Project” with the U.S. Copyright Office on Feb. 18, 2013.

Netflix signed on to produce “Stranger Things,” also originally titled “The Montauk Project,” in 2015, according to the lawsuit. The show recently began development of a third season.

Montauk’s Camp Hero has famously been surrounded by urban legends, from government projects to time travel. The rumors have inspired books and screenplays since the 1990s.

According to Kessler’s IMDb page, he has worked in production on a number of Netflix’s Marvel series, including “Jessica Jones,” “Daredevil,” “Iron Fist” and “Luke Cage,” as well as other television and movie productions.

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