There is no question that it has become a popular trend in the film and television industry to adapt and modernize classic fairy tales. Films like Snow White & The Huntsman and the hit series Once Upon a Time on ABC have studios prepping to release a slew of future fairy tale adaptations. Currently in development are adaptations of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Peter Pan, with announcements that Disney will be releasing a live action film of Maleficent as well as Peter and the Starcatchers.


While it is expected for studios to tackle these big budgeted productions, it is nice to see film students taking their own stab at adapting these classic fairy tales.

A team of undergraduate student filmmakers from Chapman University in Orange, California seem up to the challenge. For their senior thesis film, they adapted a dark interpretation of the Peter Pan, providing a new twist on the classic story written by JM Barrie. Their film, titled East of Kensington, has been a project of passion for the filmmaking team over the past three years.


East of Kensington takes place years after Peter has defeated Hook and the Pirates. Peter visits London to return Wendy to Neverland, only to be kidnapped by a mysterious stranger residing in the decaying remains of the Darling House.

The film’s director, Kellen Moore, explains his inspiration for the film’s storyline:

 I was really interested in expanding on the world of Peter Pan… I have my own personal reasons for connecting to Peter’s story and everyone loves the dream of staying a kid forever. To live in Neverland is to live in a fantasy… and the Darling Children who are from a very real London had an opportunity to live in a fantasy. I wanted to explore the consequences the public would instill on the Darling Children for claiming they had a taste of something the world would deem impossible. The idea of reality destroying fantasy was very interesting to me. So ironically, the film’s darkest elements just come from real life.


While the film is clearly a departure from the approach Disney took with their own adaptation, it is interesting to know that the film’s key creative consultant, Andrew Ducote, played Peter Pan in the Disney parks and gained online notoriety as “Spieling Peter.” He was intrigued by the unique approach that East of Kensington took with the well know tale and has been an avid creative presence throughout its production.


The team also had success casting up-and-coming actor, Jack Griffo, to play the role of Peter. Jack has since been cast as a lead in the upcoming Nickelodeon series the Thundermans set to premiere this fall.

Independent films have been flourishing in the age of crowd funding and the team from East of Kensington is currently raising funds on Kickstarter to help send their now completed film to festivals all over the world. They are asking for our help to spread the word of their campaign and film. I’ve personally been moved by their talent and the potential for this well done film. A donation to their Kickstarter gets you a copy of the film on either DVD or Blu-ray, as well as some other unique perks.

I invite you to watch the trailer below. And if you are moved as I’ve been, let me know. Perhaps we can arrange a special MiceChat screening soon.

For more information visit:

Or visit the Kickstarter page HERE.

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Dusty is the founder and CEO of When he’s not visiting theme parks and writing, editing or speaking about Disney and theme parks worldwide, Dusty stays busy as the Executive Director of both the Walt Disney Birthplace AND the Dick Van Dyke Foundation. He also runs O-Zell Soda (the company originally operated by Walt Disney’s father and at which Walt once worked).

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  • Internitty

    This appears to be an amazing piece of work, I am happy to donate to help support their efforts. I am glad to see they have raised more than they had anticipated. Student filmmakers of this caliber need to be supported and encouraged. I hope they don’t delay too long to embark on their next film.
    Well done and thank you Dusty for bringing this to our attention.

  • realsurf

    I suppose this picture appeals to filmmakers and audiences of this generation. I just find it sad that they are continually looking for a dark side in everything – zombies, horror, mosters. There is a function of entertainment to inspire, lift up, and gladden the hearts of audiences.
    This is the enduring legacy of Walt Disney. I hope it will not be the the enduring legacy of our society.

    • I’m not sure what makes you think that the function of entertainment is to “inspire, lift up, and gladden the hearts of audiences”? Are thrillers, dramas and horror films not “Entertainment” in your book? Would Shakespeare’s Macbeth (or any of his beloved tragedies) not make the cut in your limited view of entertainment?

      I absolutely love the idea of this film NOT being like what has come before. Every film does not need to be sweetness and light. And this one is embracing the darker elements of the tale. I love the creativity in that.

      • realsurf

        My comment does not speak solely to this film but rather the preponderance of “the dark side” of literally everything. As I said “there is a function..” NOT the entire reason or purpose of entertainment isto be uplifting.
        Do I think 12 Angry Men is “sweetness and light” no but it is damn good story telling. To place the current crop of movies such as World War Z, The Conjuring, or any Twilight Saga in the same company of Shakespeare, Hitchcock, or Spielberg is both uninformed and sadly misplaced.
        You speak of drama, name one recent dramatic film that lives up to oh, I don’t know, To Kill A Mockingbird?
        Again my comment simply reflects my disappointment with young filmmakers who are obsessed with blood, gore, and SFX. It is the same as with comedians who work blue. It’a a hell of a lot easier to get a laugh with a swear word.

      • StevenW

        I’m not sure the approach of modernizing a fairy tale should be on the dark side as that is what’s being argued here.

        Peter Pan has been adapted in many ways just like other stories. It’s funny because the original stories were in fact on the dark side. Disney’s vision is purely on the bright side. Disney would be the few exceptions to cater to a more lighthearted approach to the fairy tales.

        Since Disney is dead, only the zombies come back to play.

    • johnsquad

      I agree. While horror movies and thrillers are entertainment, there seems to be a dreary look at the world in film these days. So many sci-fi films paint a dark post apocolyptic portrait of the future. Dusty Sage, you are right, but these dark ideas and visions of fantasy and the future, in film, lead me to believe that film makers have a bleak hopeless view on what’s to come. Shakespeare’s tragedies are definately classic fare, but I wouldn’t say that there is a majority of movie goers that holds the story of Macbeth near and dear to there heart like they would Disney’s Peter Pan. Take a look at the top grossing films with or without adjusting for inflation you will see that most of them are classic good vs. evil, happy-ending films. Bottom line, I guess, is that for the most part people want to go to the movies to escape reality, to feel good, and to see a happy ending.

      • Soulquarian

        A dark tone does not signify a bleak dreary film though. One of my favorite dark rides is Snow White. It’s VERY dark for a Disney attraction, but still a favorite…

        I think one of the problems Disney films have created, is a limited view of classic stories and books. Most people are unaware that Walt’s films were taken from quite dark stories. Walt’s Peter Pan is one of my favorite animated films, but I understand that there was a story BEFORE. And as the the director said, there are many dark elements in the original novel.

  • Norman Gidney

    WOW! Fresh out of school you guys decided to take on an effects heavy, period piece. You certainly have Walt’s spirit when he asserted, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

    I like the idea and the overall concept of the film. Very interested to see how this turns out. GOOD LUCK! I know I will contribute.

  • JFS in IL

    I went to Chapman back when it was merely a college – Bab Bassett had just arrived to teach the first film production class (about 1980ish, I graduated 1982)) – of myself, the lone girl, and a small handful of guy students. How much the program has grown since then! I look forward to seeing this production!