A NEW DOCUMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS TESLA'S STORY
Nikola Tesla, a once world famous American inventor of the 19thand 20th century, is practically an unknown now in American history. Filmmakers Will Cashen and Carole Bourgeois are working to bring him back to life on the silver screen with their impending documentary, Electricity: The Story and Life of Nikola Tesla.
“The genius of Tesla brought the world from the dark ages into civilization, but sadly he still remains unknown to most Americans,” Bourgeois said.
Making the Film
Bourgeois and Cashen have studied Tesla’s life and inventions for the last 12 years. They are currently filming the docu-drama, and have just finished a feature film screenplay that’s undergone 16 re-writes. After studying hundreds of historical documents, books, and articles, Bourgeois has found information on Tesla’s character nuances, struggles, and personal demons that will reveal new dimensions to him that few people know.
“Tesla has been mythologized in many documentaries because little is known about him as a human being,” Bourgeois said. “His voice was never recorded; he was private and rarely left his room. His OCD sometimes caused him to go two to three days without sleep at a time. Our story about Tesla captures his soul. He left behind thousands of documents about his inventions and personal life.”
Wilhelm used his expertise in engineering, system designs, and motion controls to analyze Tesla’s experiments so that they could be accurately simulated in the film.
“Quite frankly, Will is a genius,” Bourgeois said.
Bourgeois and Cashen have both invested tens of thousands of dollars of their own money into these projects. Four hundred eighty enthusiastic backers on Kickstarter pledged more than $45,000 of the $35,000 goal, but further interest is needed. The films are more than just a fascinating character study of Tesla; they want to prove to the world Tesla was robbed of his title as the greatest American inventor. When they pitch their screenplay to producers, Bourgeois and Cashen stick to their vision.
“Producers think it’s a riveting story, but they’re wary about buying a film that clearly makes the point that Tesla was the greatest American inventor. Tesla deserves to be taught next to Edison in classrooms,” Bourgeois said.
Background on Tesla
According to Bourgeois’ research, when Tesla came to America in 1882, he soon started working for Thomas Edison, and helped him with his direct current system. After Edison and Tesla split up over an argument, Tesla began throwing himself into his work. Out of hundreds of patents, Tesla’s major inventions include the alternating current system and the first remote control which made wireless communication possible. According to Bourgeois’ research, Tesla’s alternating current system and wireless communication invention is the model that is used in modern technology. In 1896, Tesla demonstrated the alternating current system in Niagara Falls with the invention of the first hydro-electronic power plant. International fame and fortune followed, but Tesla’s lavish spending, costly self-funding of his own experiments, stripped bank loans, and stolen patents caused him to become a bankrupt recluse by the time he was an old man. Only a few of his patents were returned to his name after he died, and because Tesla scholars are approaching their eighties, Bourgeois and Cashen are working feverishly to mend his history.
News of the impending docu-drama, Electricity: The Story and Life of Nikola Tesla, was released recently on the Steampunk Tribune, a website that updates steam-punkers on the latest out in steampunk art, clothes, literature, and gadgets. Tesla’s dazzling inventions, fame, eccentricity, reclusive nature, and obscure death made Tesla a cult icon for the underground steampunk genre.
“Steam-punkers are drawn to the gilded age from the late 1860s to 1900,” Cashen said. “Tesla is an iconic hero and underdog of his time.”
Outside of filmmaking, Bourgeois and Cashen are Tesla advocates. Cashen has created a website called “Tesla Community: Help Educate the World.” For steampunkers and anyone interested, Tesla’s patents, inventions, updates on the film, and more can be found at teslacommunity.com. Tesla clothes, bobble heads, DVDs, and memorabilia can be bought at theteslastore.com. Bourgeois and Cashen greatly appreciate donations, as they continue promoting their life’s work.
“Its has been extremely challenging to create what is innately a documentary with so much technology and to accurately meld his extraordinary personal life and struggles with OCD to produce an exciting story, all the while keeping the integrity of historical events within a two hour movie and docudrama,” says Bourgeois.