On Board

A "ship of fools" indeed: madcap teenagers, a lush head of security, a pastor who loves riddles, a captain off death-row, a martial artist challenging a boxer — and a serial killer.

A once proud detective, Martin has been devastated by his failure to save a Floridian single-parent family from a serial killer. Guilt overwhelms him and he disappears in skid row.

The captain of a cruise ship, saved from death-row by Martin, goes to search for him, with the aid of the ship’s pastor, who has a touch of the other-worldliness. They find Martin in a dark lane: an alcoholic derelict, hardly recognisable.

The captain takes him on board and makes him head of security in the hope of giving him dignity, a seeding in a normally futile attempt to wean an alcoholic off dependency.

The captain organises for Martin’s family – wife Francine and daughter Petra – to be on board in the hope of reuniting the family after a year’s estrangement.

When a girl is raped and killed on board, Martin comes alive to the task of finding the murderer, whom he believes has all the signs of a serial killer in the making.

There are many suspects. There is too the fear of a second killing.

Meanwhile, subplots abound.

The pastor tries to tell truths about certain passengers by means of using non-intrusive, clue-ridden statements the kind the Fool makes in Shakespeare's King Lear to help Lear understand his predicament without incurring his wrath.

The pastor's primary focus is on John, a failed farmer, whose well-hidden desire is to commit suicide (in the guise of an accident) to financially benefit his adult children, whom he feels he has let down.

In another subplot, a teenage karate expert is determined to publicly challenge a young boxer on his way to America to fight for the world middleweight title, unaware of the boxer's violent history outside the ring, including killing a thug.

We later find the karate expert is involved in a deal with a vitamin-producing company whereby if he beats the boxer and its filming is posted on YouTube, with him promoting the vitamins, he will receive five cents per hit. With predictions of over a million hits, the karate expert is set to make a small fortune.

The two finally clash in the ring with the boxer easily beating the karate expert by using footwork to exhaust his unfit opponent. But it takes tremendous willpower for the boxer not to kill his vulnerable opponent.

A third subplot involves a group of teenagers who seek romance and adventure. One teenager competes with the son of the billionaire owner of the cruise ship for the affections of good-looking Petra, their efforts made more difficult as she's preoccupied with her father's desertion – her anger is so great that on sighting her father she attacks him with flailing fists.

All along there is the tragic fourth sub-plot of former SAS personnel, Mike, who has lost his daughter to a killer. The loss has broken his marriage and broken himself – both due to seemingly inescapable guilt for not being there to save his daughter.

In a Poirot-like denouement, Martin gathers the suspects and explains his efforts in finding the killer before finally naming him.

Act 6 ties the threads together in a positive manner, with the promise of a sequel as Petra proclaims to her father they should go to Florida and resume the search for the serial killer responsible for wiping out two all-female families.

On Board is the only screenplay I wrote to appeal to almost all demographics and to cater to many genre tastes.

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Starring Roles For:
Actor aged c.45
Actress aged 18
Actors aged 18
In the Vein Of:
Redemption films
Who-Done-It films
Love Boat TV series
Author Bio:
UPDATE: 15 APRIL 2023 Great news! Today I have completed a rewrite of Counterchance. Please, if you have read the screenplay before, read it again. Up to 96 per cent of errors in word usage and syntax have been spotted and corrected. Many ambiguities in expression have been set right. Several drops in story consistency have been detected and straightened. In my opinion, Counterchance has the ingredients for a huge commercial success while at the same time being a thinking person's film as it explores the theme of crime and punishment without being didactic (ie, the story comes first, not the theme).

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