Fragments From Olympus: The Vision of Nikola Tesla

Fragments From Olympus: The Vision of Nikola Tesla
Richard Grove 
Website: Tragedy and Hope dot com
Blog: The Peace Revolution Podcast
Date: 0000-00-00
Subject: Energy


Have you ever heard of an individual who, in the face of gaining enormous wealth and power, chose to give it all up- to achieve a dream of liberating humanity from collectivism? I’m not referring to Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or any of their so-called “Super Friends”, as I’m not speaking of superficial “philanthropy” enacted by existing billionaires in exchange for more leverage and control over others… I’m speaking of a man who truly embodied the concept of power, a man who would have been the world’s first billionaire were it not for his selfless efforts; a man whose sacrifice, meant to benefit all of humanity for all of history, has been maligned, robbed, rubbed out, and obfuscated from view… until now.


Fragments From Olympus: The Vision of Nikola Tesla / A Pre-Production interview with award-winning screenwriter and director Joseph Sikorski


“Joseph Sikorski has an award-winning script, and a potential audience of millions of individuals around the world, who are interested in learning more about Nikola Tesla. Sikorski’s script, Fragments from Olympus: The Vision of Nikola Tesla, also has a cinematographer signed on who worked on The Matrix and Harry Potter projects; demonstrating that the special effects narrative can be effectively captured on film and convincingly relayed to the audience.


Being that Nikola Tesla devoted his entire life to the study of electricity to liberate humanity, I interviewed Joseph Sikorski for this month’s “Power to the People” issue on energy independence, so that he could explain directly to you, why this project is necessary, and how you might play a part in helping this historic film begin production. It is time for Tesla’s 20th century dream of decentralized electricity for all, to manifest into a 21st century reality, and deliver an empowering future.” " Richard Grove


RG:  What led to your journey in screen writing?


JS: I always loved the format of storytelling; where visual elements and combined media can enhance dialogue, transform it- even contradict it. Screen writing also offers a concentrated use of time. All the elements in the final work create a rich tapestry of background sounds, mood music and imagery. What might take ten pages to describe in a novel can be conveyed in five seconds on screen through the creative use of these elements. In a time-centric format, this has always appealed to me.


RG: What led to your journey in directing films?


JS: Mostly a pursuit of controlling the elements I described above and making sure the finished result achieves the original intent. A screenplay is really an unfinished work. Like a blueprint, it may be difficult for others to understand the true meaning. I could never have appreciated the beauty of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater by looking at the blue print. But seeing the realized vision is nothing short of breathtaking. In the case of "Fragments From Olympus", directing became even more important to us after seeing where some production companies wanted to go with the story of Tesla. They wanted to focus more on Tesla's eccentricities than his accomplishments, which sadly, is part of the reason he is not known today. Tesla was victimized by corporate greed, jealousy and history itself, so there's no way I'm going to allow "Fragments" to be a catalyst of his further exploitation. In this case, directing and editing the film is the only option to insure the film remains the tribute to Tesla we intended. Restoring Tesla's credibility will be key to continuing his research in the future.


RG:  Why Tesla?


JS: Nikola Tesla sacrificed everything to bring us into the modern age, including tearing up a contract with Westinghouse which, by today's standards, would have made him the world's first billionaire. He did this so humanity could progress. He also tried to give free wireless energy to the world, until the plug was literally pulled by JP Morgan, who couldn't find a way to meter it. He died penniless and nearly forgotten. To this day, others still receive the credit for his work. Correcting history and vindicating his struggle were key reasons for us writing this. Another was to continue his research. Tesla has so much unfinished work that can improve the world today if there was a large enough public outcry to continue it. We believe the cinema is the best method of reaching the most people, and the quickest most efficient way to achieve this.


RG: How did you begin collaboration with Michael Calomino?


JS: Michael Calomino and myself are high school friends and creative collaborators. In the same way that many teenagers had garage bands, we'd write stories and film them in our basements. He also happens to be one of the most brilliant people I know, which is a big plus in a writing partner.


RG:  Last year you and Michael were advocating the Save Wardenclyffe Mission, and you recently made a donation which surmounted the goal to raise funds for the Tesla Museum in Long Island… what inspired you and what enabled you to take such an inspiring step in this journey?


JS: For the last 12 years I'd have nightmares about the last remaining lab of Nikola Tesla disappearing from the earth as a result of either a property sale, or a vandal's fire. For the past several years, Michael, Producing Supervisor Vic Elefante, and myself worked with Jane Alcorn and The Tesla Science Center to try to raise awareness and funds so they could purchase the precious piece of history. Not only was the building designed by Stanford White, but it is the place where Tesla hoped to send free wireless energy to the entire globe.


Unfortunately, most people in the community never heard of Nikola Tesla, so they didn't see the value of the property. We tried unsuccessfully to raise the money for the TSC.  Then we had an unconventional idea. If philanthropy alone wasn't enough to save the property, perhaps a profit motive could. So we actually added the price of donating the Wardenclyffe property directly to our film's budget- this way before a single frame of film even rolled, Wardenclyffe could be purchased by the non-profit TSC. In return, we would have a free shooting location and a permanent monument to perpetually cross promote the product they invested in. To our delight, this outside-the-box method seemed to work. We received a letter of commitment for the full funds for the film from a private interest, which included the 1 million dollar Wardenclyffe donation.


However, tragedy struck when a sudden illness from one of the principles put our deal in limbo. When an interested party arose and inquired about purchasing Wardenclyffe, we started to look for a replacement to our deal. At the same time, Jane put out an appeal that fortunately for us all, was answered by Matt Inman, an internet comic strip writer known as the Oatmeal. Matt started a historic crowd-funding campaign that saved the day. We wanted to support this effort, so we used all of our film's seed money, and scraped together the rest of the funds, to make the donation. What I didn't realize was that there was a limit on my debit account as to how much funds I could disperse in a day.


After trying to run the transaction several times, I went to my bank, which ultimately raised the limit so I could go through with it.  With the next attempt though, I was flagged for fraud by indiegogo for trying to run the transaction too many times. By the time I reached a phone representative, it was late in the day, but she was finally able to put the transaction through. I heard a noise on the other end of the phone. The customer service rep asked if I had "heard that". She said it was the employees at indiegogo clapping because our donation had gone through, and put them over their goal. Matthew then made his now famous tweet about it. We were so glad we were able to support this great effort in a significant way.



RG:  Describe the journey from finishing the script to funding the film.


JS: After "Fragments From Olympus" was a quarter finalist in one of the largest & most prestigious screenwriting competitions in the country (“The American Screenwriting Competition") we won Best Screenplay at the Long Island International Film Festival.


Because our subject is a period piece with special effects, we were concerned that investors would be scared of risking too much on a big budget epic. We decided we would show them that an epic look could be achieved on an indie-budget by creating a "Teaser" for the work. For less than $700 we created the "Fragments From Olympus" teaser that ultimately became a Semi-Finalist at the International Movie Trailer Festival, where it competed with finished million dollar productions. Our mantra was, "This is what we did with a few hundred; think what we could do with a few million."


This ultimately led to us finding a private investor, and receiving a Letter of Commitment for the funds.  Because of the sudden illness and our letter falling through, this part of the journey is still being written.


RG:  Who’s signed on to the project thus far?


JS: So far we have Actress Sean Young (Bladerunner / Wall Street), Veteran Character Actor Leo Rossi (Analyze This, The Accused) and Cinematographer Howard J. Smith (Harry Potter/Matrix films) who are all on board. We have other exciting possibilities we are working on as well.


RG:  What obstacles stand between the present status and the future completion?


JS: The current obstacle is finding another financing partner who is a good fit for the project- someone who understands the mission beyond the film and our unconventional approach to the production process- a bit of a "maverick" perhaps. It's no surprise to many that the Hollywood system is broken. We believe this is a historic chance for certain independent films to create a new production and distribution paradigm. Obviously though, film is a risky investment, so it will take a special kind of partner or partners, perhaps some more moved by the mission than the potential profit.


RG:  How much do you need to raise to complete the film, and by when do you need to raise it?


JS: We've always had two budgets: one, the lowest amount we felt could achieve a high quality result which was in the $4 million range- the other, closer to the "sweet spot" of successful independent films at $10.5 million. Our original letter of commitment was for 4.5 million, but we may use our current situation as an opportunity to reach for the higher budget, which could lessen the long term risk and be more bang for the buck overall. We're working hard to not skip a beat. We'd like to be back in pre-production by the end of the year, so our production schedule can begin by March 2013.


RG:  How would you explain the dream manifesting into reality, from the end point? For the audience, what does the end result look like, and how will you know when you’ve been successful?


JS: Tesla once said, "My imaginings become realities." From our perspective, this seems to be the case for us too, as we see our marketing plan and strategy come to fruition. The historic success of the recent Indiegogo campaign that saved Wardenclyffe confirms our beliefs- that there is a built in audience for "Fragments >From Olympus- The Vision of Nikola Tesla", an army of pent-up Tesla fans that have been waiting for vindication. We hope to channel their energy to create a viral response of support for what we're trying to do. Not only are we trying to vindicate Tesla's struggle, but trying to correct history, and continue his research, which all can begin through the vehicle of an entertaining film. Because we want to bring Tesla into the popular culture, the genre is more of a true-life mystery thriller than a stodgy bio-pic (which traditionally don't perform well at the box office). By telling Tesla's story through the course of the true-life FBI investigation into his "death ray" research, we can reach a much larger demographic and hopefully inspire an interest in the genius inventor in people who normally wouldn't be exposed to him in the film types they usually choose.  It's also important to note that our film is meant to be an introduction to Nikola Tesla, an overview that we hope will usher in more works that delve into specific areas of his life or personality. The reaction we would like from the audience as they leave would be one of questioning their education and the information they've received through the years as being through the prism of Tesla's adversaries and enemies. We want people to ask the same question we did upon learning about Tesla's achievements, "Why haven't I ever heard of this man?" If we overhear this, we will know we were a success.


Then the next phase of the mission can begin, which is I hope, a renewed interest in his research. For this, I believe we can be a catalyst. I do sincerely believe this film can help make the world a better place. As Nikola Tesla foresaw, "See the excitement coming."






Richard Grove is publisher of TragedyAndHope.Com, and to keep it simple, here's a summary of why the site exists: We exist, and as human beings, we depend on reason to survive and thrive in life; therefore, the content on this site is necessary to an individual’s ability to think rationally about the world we all share.