Reliance Entertainment’s Motion Picture Capital has come onboard to produce and finance J. Michael Straczynski’s WWII drama “The Flickering Light,” with lensing to start in November.
Straczynski is directing from his own script, which centers on a group of prisoners from the Marzahn Concentration Camp — exclusively for Gypsies — who were pressed into work as actors, bit players and extras during the 1942 filming of “Tiefland,” a movie directed by and starring Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl.
Casting is under way in Los Angeles, London and Berlin.
Straczynski is also producing through his Studio JMS banner alongside Grant Hill and Norman Golightly. Exec producers are Leon Clarance and Deepak Nayar, along with their Georgeville colleague Marc Rosen; Patricia Tallman will also exec produce.
“‘The Flickering Light’ is based on one of the most surreal and little known chapters of film history and the Second World War itself,” Straczynski said. “During the day, the prisoners were escorted to the studio by armed guard and corralled onto movie sets. They were cleaned up by the largely sympathetic Aryan crew, feasted on food unimaginable to prisoners, then dressed in period Spanish wardrobe as Riefenstahl required ‘authenticity’ on camera. Then after filming each day, returned, once more in rags, to the horror of the camp.”
He noted that some of the actors survived to see “Tiefland” released in 1954.”The Flickering Light” will be shot at Berlin’s Studio Babelsberg, using the same soundstages as “Tiefland,” when it was known as the Ufa Film Studios.
The movie marks the feature directorial debut of Straczynski, whose credits include Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling,” Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor” and “Underworld Awakening.” He also directed, created and produced “Babylon 5.”
Motion Picture Capital was formed by Clarance in 2011 as a U.K.-based specialty financier and producer of feature films. Other Reliance companies include Georgeville Television, IM Global, Lava Bear Films and DreamWorks.
Straczynski is represented by Martin Spencer, CAA and Kevin Kelly of the Gender-Kelly entertainment law firm.