Synopsis: Eve’s family is missing: her journal holds the key to locating them. As her world and reality begin to unravel, she must unlock the mystery of the visions and transmissions she is experiencing.
Is she a prisoner, a patient… or dead?
Lucy Harrigan (Joy)
Tereza Kamenicka (Lila)
David Allard (Francis)
Usifu Jalloh (Gordon)
Imagination, belief, the sacred and spiritual are all inextricably linked. Where one person experiences a vision, dream or idea, another might encounter contact from aliens or angels.
Who decides? Should we be permitted to define our own interpretation of reality?
Subjective truth is debated endlessly and consensus reality appears to be slowly disintegrating, dismantled through the new ways in which we interact and experience the world through the prisms of social media and other portals of meaning which we don’t wholly control.
The solid world we once inhabited, now appears as a dream.
Lightships is a film that emerged before the global pandemic, but now in retrospect, it appears prescient. I had no way of knowing when I completed the screenplay in January 2019 just how much of the story would come to shadow our experiences in lockdown during a global pandemic less than one year later. The masks the patients wear are a haunting reminder of the often prophetic power of film and art, to give strange form to things yet to come. Like the visions that make Eve question her reality, Lightships is a fever dream that I don’t fully recall making.
The visions Eve transcribes in her journal are taken from the book ‘Remembrance’ by Maryann Rada, a celebrated UFO contactee. When I was asked to adapt her book, I wasn’t sure it was even possible. As I read ‘Remembrance’ I recalled the conversations around ‘Naked Lunch’ by William S. Burroughs and the debate around if it was possible for Cronenberg to adapt into a film. ‘Naked Lunch’ was once believed to be a book that could never be translated into film. I was also reminded of the quote “If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” Stanley Kubrick
The aspect of the film that I’m most satisfied with is how the screenplay encapsulates, protects and presents passages from ‘Remembrance’ as the visions Eve records in her journal. This is how Maryann records her own interactions with entities she believes to be alien: through hundreds of journals, she writes and records her experiences of contact and communion, spanning decades. Eve’s journal allowed me to create a screenplay that was respectful to the transcendent nature of Maryann Rada’s work, whilst not being subservient to the source material as gospel. It was important to me as an artist that both the audience and I be allowed to explore the material on our own terms. The power of our interactions with what we believe to be sacred is in our permission to interpret what it means to our lives.
Lightships allowed me to explore and test my own questions on the nature of how humans have recorded their encounters with what they believed to be gods, angels, aliens and the creative idea since time immemorial. Are the sacred and religious nothing more than our dreams run amok, or is the answer even more interesting than the question? Perhaps the truth exists beyond human concepts of true or false.
When we explore the realms of our imagination through creativity, art and storytelling, do we commune with worlds beyond our own?
I’m deeply proud of Lightships. My talented collaborators and I have created a puzzle box; a film that invites our audience to decide for themselves the true nature of Eve’s reality. Like all the best stories, it is a mystery that I’m still unravelling for myself.
Perhaps God is a detective, investigating the true nature of his/her creation on his/her own terms.
ohn Harrigan is a British filmmaker, actor and writer.
Harrigan wrote and directed the immersive horror film Strange Factories which toured the oldest independent cinemas in the UK as a live cinematic event as featured in Filmmaker Magazine and Wired Magazine.
In 2019 he was awarded Best Director at the Brighton Rocks Film Festival and Best Storytelling at the First Hermetic Film Festival in Venice for his second feature Armageddon Gospels.
In his spare time he teaches meditation and lectures in storytelling, drama and creativity for organisations such at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Royal College of Art and The Central School of Speech and Drama.
Lightships his third feature is currently screening at film festivals.
He seeks peace and equilibrium, but finds it hard to locate in a house filled with five cats and three children.