I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I had no idea Robert Louis Stevenson, author of such classics as Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, spent time fighting death more than once in the Bay Area. I never questioned how the land mass in the bay came by such a whimsical name as “Treasure Island” without featuring an amusement park or a single pirate ship. It makes so much more sense now.
The Scottish-born author’s journey across the United States in 1879 brought him to the brink of death and he spent three months in Monterey recovering. Once he was well enough he carried on to San Francisco where, shortly after taking a new wife, he fell ill once again. To recuperate the author travelled with his family to Mount Saint Helena in what is now known as Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. His recovery at the foot of Mount Saint Helena is the story Siren’s Gaze Productions hopes to tell with support through an IndieGoGo campaign.
Siren’s Gaze was founded during the 2013 Cannes Film Festival by a trio of female filmmakers. Their first project, Death is No Bad Friend, is the story of Stevenson facing his personal demons as he hangs close to death at Mount Saint Helena. They’re seeking between $10,000 and $20,000 to tell this important chapter of often overlooked Bay Area history.
The screenplay is being written by G.E. Gallas who is no stranger to telling the tales of eccentric creatives of the 18th and 19th centuries. Since November 2012 she’s been producing an online graphic novel about poet and painter William Blake called The Poet and the Flea. In her story Blake is visited by “The Ghost of the Flea” who seeks to take advantage of Blake’s grief following his daughter’s death. The story, currently on hiatus, will eventually answer the question of whether or not Blake falls “victim to the fleas corruption.”