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Form: Feature Film | Genre: Survival / Mystery Thriller

Audience: 20's - 30's, Female | Status: Available For Option


Logline: When a misanthropic navy officer is shipwrecked on a remote island, she must uncover the sinister goings-on between the island's enigmatic inhabitants to escape.

Full Script and Treatment Available Upon Request



Lieutenant Commander Kate Ward is an unfeeling hard-ass: To command her crew, she dispenses with camaraderie and leads by the authority of her rank. This attitude has earned her only a single friend, Sam Kirby, who seems impervious to Kate’s thorny personality. Unfortunately that bond isn’t enough: When the ship strikes a reef amidst a storm, the chain of command goes out the window and Kate loses control of the crew. The ship goes down... and Kate washes ashore a remote island. She’s freezing cold, beaten and close to death, with Sam’s corpse still clinging tightly to her legs. Her survival mode kicks in: She desecrates Sam’s body, slicing him open and using the last heat of his innards to warm her hands so she can open the supply boxes nearby. This macabre display sets the tone for the rest of Kate’s journey.


Kate meets the island’s inhabitants: A tribe known as the Hari, an Argentinian anthropologist (Ascanio Ortiz) and an enigmatic British expatriate (Edmond Dormer). As Kate endeavours to escape the island, she becomes embroiled in the mystery behind a string of disappearances: A number of the Hari’s young women have gone missing. The locals’ troubles stir the memory of Kate’s own trauma, the very reason she lost faith in people to begin with. She remembers why she joined the navy: To help people. Kate’s nobler side shines through, and she determines to solve the mystery by bringing the perpetrator to justice before leaving the island.

“I’m their ranking officer! I don’t give a fuck if they’re worried, I don’t give a fuck if it means I’m gonna throw them in the bilge. If something happens on this ship, they tell me” - Kate


Shellback is a survival/mystery thriller in the style of 1970’s films of the same genre: Films like Deliverance, The Hills Have Eyes, and The Wicker Man. In each case, we see our regular citizens in an isolated environment combating threatening locals and bizarre eccentrics. However, Shellback upends this expectation: Kate initially assumes the locals are a threat, but learns by the end of the film they were never a danger at all. In this sense, Shellback overturns the xenophobic views of the past to create a film about inclusivity and acceptance of other cultures, similar to Dances with Wolves, Walkabout and Rabbit-Proof Fence. Additionally, Kate’s closed-off personality is presented as a coping mechanism to thrive in the male-dominated navy. On the island, Kate realises this twisted shell she’s created to protect herself… can she free herself from it?

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