I’m not rating/reviewing my own work—that’s up to you, the reader–but I do have some things to say. I was presented with the gigantic task of writing a cradle-to-grave biopic of the genius inventor Nikola Tesla. The logline is “A Beautiful Mind meets Gandhi.” I was astounded to learn about the man, his work, and his place in history. I’d never heard of Tesla before. After plowing through mountainous research, I discovered three visual/dramatic images that leapt out and could be employed as recurring themes. One–wheels spinning. From Tesla’s childhood water wheel (mentioned in one short sentence in his autobiography along with trying to fly with an umbrella) to his famous migraine-induced vision of the AC generator to the speedometer, spinning wheels characterize his work (in stark contrast to the straight-line, square thinking of most science). Even his laboratories were organized within a circle (recalling Dante’s Circles of Hell). Two–imaginary companions. In his autobiography, Tesla refers briefly to “my spirits.” In Margaret Cheney’s monumental biography, she mentions that Tesla’s devoted secretaries overheard him having arguments in voices while alone in his office. He was the quintessential mad scientist willing to experiment on himself, confront mortal danger, and labor endless hours alone through the night. So I didn’t think it too much of a speculative leap that he could have had imaginary companions. (Spoiler alert.) One is the devil out Goethe’s Faust, a poem which Tesla was obsessed with and quoted frequently, who offers him revelations in exchange for his soul. The other is the bullying older brother who died when Tesla was a boy. To me, this internalization accounts for Tesla’s self-destructive behavior, his propensity to challenge society’s bullies, like J.P. Morgan, against whom he just can’t win, and his lifelong bitter rivalry with a bullying Thomas Edison. And three—a courtroom. Tesla devoted countless hours to appearing as an expert witness, a plaintiff, and a defendant. The research makes clear the onerous impact of patent litigation on inventors. Some, like Edwin Armstrong, a Tesla admirer who invented television technology, committed suicide. I thought Tesla’s defense of himself in the Court of Life made an interesting framing image. So there you have it. I hope more readers will give the screenplay a try and write a review. Learning is my lifelong quest.

Tesla, A Worthy of His Time was read by the producer of “Aliens,” “The Abyss,” and “The Hulk.” A List of Sources follows the Screenplay.

Tesla is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

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