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.

• 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 (a traditional karate black belt who is nothing like a UFC or an MMA fighter). But it takes tremendous willpower for the boxer not to kill his vulnerable opponent.

• A group of teenagers 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 (Martin's) desertion – her anger is so great that on sighting Martin, she attacks him with flailing fists.

• A former SAS personnel, Mike, who has lost his daughter to a serial killer – and has never fully recovered from the guilt of not having been there to protect her – now must come to terms with the ship's serial killer.

In a Poirot-like denouement, Martin gathers the suspects and explains his efforts in finding the killer … before naming him. There is 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 (please note: a partial sequel has been made, partial because it is subsumed by another of my screenplays called Counterchance, which is mostly about an FBI agent seeking to save his family).

On Board is the only screenplay I wrote to appeal to many demographic groups and to cater to several genres. Though somewhat eclectic in nature – and hugely expensive to produce (involving a huge number of creative) – it has the promise of enormous commercial success.

[Please note: a rewrite of On Board has been completed on 30 July 2023].

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:
Last updated: 29 October 2023.

I became a hobbyist screenwriter in 2007 when I purchased version 7 of Final Draft. I’ve since completed 12 screenplays and one TV pilot.

My screenplays are: 1. Counterchance. “When life-saving miracles happen”. 2. Glorious Revolution. “Unintended consequences”. 3. Howlingween. “A holiday into hell”. 4. Howlingween 2: Clarry the Clown. “An island paradise becomes a trap”. 5. Howlingween 3: Red River County.

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