The indiegogo.com online campaign started by Matthew Inman, a web comic creator better known as The Oatmeal, has raised approximately $1.4 million to preserve Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe lab in Shoreham.
And a pair of Lindenhurst High School alumni and indie filmmakers, Joseph Sikorski and Michael Calomino, were a huge part of reaching and surpassing the goal of the viral online fundraiser, which has raised $1,370,511 to date, according to a press release on Monday from Sikorski and Calomino's film about Tesla: Fragments from Olympus - The Vision of Nikola Tesla.
Lindy Grads Help Out
The duo donated the last of their film's seed money, and raised some additional last-minute funds - with the help of a distant relative of Tesla, Dusan Stojanovic - to make to help achieve the fundraiser's original goal of $850,000.
According to the October 1 press release, the funds will now free up a New York State reimbursement grant of $850,000, and will allow the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, a local non-profit organization, to purchase the property and begin the restoration that's expected "to transform the site into a world-class museum."
When a sudden illness put the deal in limbo as an interested buyer arose, Jane Alcorn, president of the TSC, put out an appeal to raise the money online, the release said.
Inman picked up on this and started the online fundraiser. The release indicated Inman was inspired to start the online campaign because Tesla "gave us so much and we gave him so little in return," as stated in an interview with Forbes magazine.
The effort, the release said, left Alcorn feeling "overwhelmingly astounded," as she described her thoughts about the project's new-found fortune to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Sikorski and Calomino have long been involved in trying to save the historic Wardenclyffe property - the site where Tesla built his wireless telegraphy plant in 1901 with the dream of transmitting free wireless energy to the whole world.
Though the 187-foot tower no longer remains, the Stanford White-designed building still stands there.
In fact, according to the release, a $4 million dollar letter of commitment they received for their total film financing included a $1 million dollar donation for the TSC to purchase the property.
About using the film's seed money to help save the Wardenclyffe property, Sikorski said in the release, “Itʼs a sequence of priorities. The first thing was to support all of the efforts to preserve this valuable piece of history. Itʼs all part of the vindication of Tesla, who sacrificed so much and died penniless. Telling his story is the next part.”
Sikorski, who continues to support the TSC, hopes Fragments from Olympus will find a new private investor and ultimately helps the TSC continue to raise awareness and financing for the maintenance of the museum.
Co-written by Calomino and Sikorski, Fragments from Olympus won Best Original Screenplay of the 2010 Long Island International Film Festival, and was a Quarter Finalist in the American Screenwriting Competition, one of the country's largest script contests.
Actress Sean Young (Blade Runner, Ace Ventura), actor Leo Rossi (Analyze This, The Accused) and cinematographer Howard J. Smith (Harry Potter, Matrix films) have signed onto their project that's now set to film certain scenes on the Wardenclyffe property.
Funds Still Needed
The TSC hopes to continue to raise the funds for a full restoration of the property and ultimate transformation into a museum in honor of the inventor. To achieve this it’ll need help with the on-going effort.
"Building a science center will take a lot more time and money, so in the interim Iʼd love to have a Nikola Tesla Festival on Nikola Tesla Day (July 10). Itʼd just be a big, one-day, outdoor event," Inmann said in the release.
To that end donations for the museum's restoration now could still be through the TSC's website, the release noted.