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Tesla film to put $1M into preservation of Wardenclyffe property in Shoreham

A still from ‘Fragments from Olympus,’ a film that will tell the story of unsung inventor Nikola Tesla, who built an early wireless tower in Shoreham. Photos from Joseph Sikorski

June 14, 2012 | 09:41 AM
Before a frame of film can be shot, a quarter of the $4 million budget for "Fragments from Olympus" will go toward purchasing the Wardenclyffe property in Shoreham, where inventor Nikola Tesla built an early wireless tower.

The film, written by Joseph Sikorski and Michael Calomino, tells the story of unsung inventor Nikola Tesla, whose developments included radio, radar and X-rays.

"He had sacrificed everything to bring us into the modern age, and it seemed a good mission to vindicate him, and all that he did for us," Sikorski said.

From left, actor Leo Rossi, who plays FBI agent Foxworth; director Joseph Sikorski, and actor Miro Besic, who plays Tesla’s father, Milutin Tesla.
The writers, both born and raised on Long Island, decided that in addition to telling Tesla's story, it was important to save this historic property.

"The greater good here is to save Wardenclyffe and what better way to do that than to actually work the price into the budget itself," Calomino said.

Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, a nonprofit incorporated in 1996, aims to purchase the property from Belgium-based digital imaging systems company Agfa-Gevaert for the corporation's asking price of $1.2 million.

Jane Alcorn, president of Tesla Science Center, said the 16-acre property was a state Superfund site in need of remediation due to hazardous waste there.

Aphrodite Montalvo, spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Conservation said the property was cleaned up in 2008 and received an environmental easement in 2009, meaning the property is approved for commercial and industrial use provided that soil conditions continue to be monitored.

Alcorn said, "We are trying to take a property once intended for the betterment of humans through science and turn it into a place where people can learn about his work, his life and aspects of science his work has impacted."

Sikorski said he first became intrigued with Tesla years ago, while reading documents released by the FBI regarding Tesla's mechanism for generating tremendous electrical force, nicknamed "the death ray." Upon doing more research, Sikorski saw that Tesla's life played out like a movie.

"Tesla's life was wrought with irony and tragedy," he said.

Telsa, who came to the U.S. from what is now Croatia to work with Edison, would spend the majority of his life having his reputation destroyed. Sikorski said Tesla invented alternating current power, which was more efficient than Edison's direct current power. However, Edison, deeply invested in DC power, spent a lot of time discrediting Tesla.

"Edison started a publicity campaign against Tesla, and he electrocuted animals in public using Tesla's method of electricity to show people Tesla's method was dangerous," he said.

Sikorski said the project started gaining momentum two years ago, when they won the best screenplay award in the Long Island International Film Festival, and became a quarter finalist in the American screenwriting competition. He said they shot a teaser for the film on a $700 budget and became semifinalists in the international movie trailer festival.

Once the property is purchased, Sikorski will direct the film, which is to be shot partially on the historic location. He said actors Leo Rossi and Sean Young have already signed on and Howard J. Smith, known for his work on the Harry Potter and Matrix films, has joined as cinematographer.

Calomino said he hopes the audience will resonate with Tesla's efforts to bring electricity to the masses.

"He sacrificed everything that could have been his, the money, the fame, just for the work itself and the betterment of mankind," he said.

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