The Coal Monster

The story of a boy in the 1880s who discovers a secret in the coalfields of the West Coast of New Zealand that has been lying dormant for millennia.

I  want the coal monster to be a story of childhood, of the innocence before we realise what the world is really about. It also mixes sci-fi in the form of what appears to be stories from a child’s imagination.

This is an analogy, a microcosm of man speeding up the destruction of the Earth and global warming – living in the Anthropocene (a proposed geological epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change).

The story starts with a young boy being bullied and one of the many occasions that the other children are chasing him, he runs into a cave and the others block the entrance to the cave. While he enters deeper into the cave looking for another way out. He touches the wall of the cave he has visions. These visions are of a race of people that are coal-based and have lived for billions of years.

The boy comes back to this cave is often and over time learns the history of the coal monster’s race and how he fell to Earth millions of years ago, onto what was then Gondwanaland. This impact caused the continents to split and also to deposit coal throughout the world.

The Coalmonster and through him, coal is sentient, the coal mining is affecting the coal monster and in turn Earth because he is now a part of it. The boy tries to tell the adults and anyone that he can that they are effectively destroying a living being as they mine.

As he dies, seismic activity increases. The boy tells elders this but they think he’s mad, the more he cries, the more they laugh. In a story that is similar to the boy who cried wolf, eventually, the mining causes destruction at a scale that is irreversible.

The story takes place and Denniston on the west coast where I grew up at first went to school. I spent a lot of time exploring around the abandoned coal mines, ancient rainforests, rivers and beaches around the area. The story will incorporate many aspects of my childhood, interactions with friends at the time and especially learning from my father who while loving had a very matter-of-fact way of teaching me. I remember being about four years of age and him telling me not to go down to the bottom of the hill where the coal trucks drove past regularly. I asked him why? His answer was simply “because you’ll die”.

I intend to create fantasy-like cut scenes using my design and illustration style to tell the Coalmonster’s story – as if we are seeing it in his mind.

I also intend to introduce early New Zealand history, early Māori history and Māori myth and legend through a Māori boy who is friends with the main character. These stories also coincide with the Coalmonster’s history, which also, in turn, relate to myths and legends from all other parts of the world where coal monster was distributed when he fell to Earth. Did Coalmonster teach all civilisations because he is all over the world?

This movie will also feature the beauty of the West Coast in all its glory as seen through the eyes of the boy and his friends discovering themselves and the beauty around them.

Denniston, West Coast NZ, 2018