Arts and Entertainment

Filmmakers to discuss new film on Maury UFO tale

On June 21, 1947, something happened to Harold Dahl while he was trolling the waters in his boat off of Maury Island. Something that he claimed damaged his boat, injured his son, killed his dog and entangled him in a web of secrecy, disbelief, ridicule and intrigue that extended all the way to J.Edgar Hoover and plagued his family for years.

Dahl saw a group of UFOs, or so he said, one of which appeared to be in trouble before raining burning slag from the sky onto his boat.

While UFO sightings seemed to be all the rage during the Cold War era, Dahl’s “Maury Island incident” has the distinction of being the first one on record to be investigated by the military and the FBI. But with the exceptions of UFO enthusiasts, skeptics and locals with ties to the story, most people have never heard of it.

Scott Schaefer and Steve Edmiston, both local award-winning directors, writers and producers, are looking to change that.

On Tuesday night, as a fundraiser for the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum, the Vashon Theatre and Island Green Tech will host a preview of three “webisodes” — a series of episodes to be shown on the internet — created from Schaefer and Edmiston’s short film, “The Maury Island Incident,” which they shot on location here last summer.

Schaefer said the duo would prefer to have a full screening, but doing so could preclude them from participating in the Seattle International Film Festival.

But the two were effusive in their praise of the museum and its staff and are eager to help with fundraising efforts since they did some research for the film there, they noted.

“I started talking to the staff about what I was looking for, and everyone went quiet. ... Then suddenly, ‘we’ll go get the binder.’” Edmiston said. “They brought me this big three-ring binder full of news clippings and reports from the time of the story. It was awesome.”

The two will be on hand at the screening to take audience feedback and engage in a Q&A. The 30-minute film, based primarily on information obtained from FBI case files that were declassified in 1997, is meant to generate interest on a broader scale. Schaefer said the two hope the story can become a TV series, with their film as the pilot episode.

“Think ‘X Files’ meets ‘Mad Men’ meets ‘True Detective,’” he said.

Both Schaefer and Edmiston revelled in the connections they made with people who were familiar with the story and are looking forward to their evening on Vashon.

“We would love it if people would come that have any kind of tie to or recollection of this story or even just this time period locally,” Schaefer said. “It’s so exciting to meet people who can bring new elements and information to the table. It makes for a wonderful night of interaction.”

“The Maury Island Incident” webisodes will show at the Vashon Theatre at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 8. Admission is by a suggested donation of $10, and tickets can be purchased in advance at the Vashon Bookshop.

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