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Spielberg’s film, which she aims to complete in 2015, is aimed at a North American audience and highlights the stories of American and Canadian fliers. She speaks of them with obvious awe.
“These men are heroes and the stories of their exploits are incredible,” Spielberg said. “It is an honor to talk to them and to show others what they did.”
Mike Flint is similarly ebullient. An enthusiastic promoter, he hardly pauses for breath – or for anything else – when describing his documentary.
“I’ve been preparing for this film all my life, ever since I heard my dad talk about his experiences as a fighter pilot,” Flint said.
Flint, the former head of the story department at Paramount Pictures, pegs his budget for the documentary at about $4 million, or three times larger than Spielberg’s. He says he has two-thirds of the amount pledged or in hand.
By far the largest backer of the film, and its executive producer, is Mark Lansky, who is also producing a film about his uncle, Meyer Lansky, best remembered as the “accountant” of the Lucky Luciano and Bugsy Siegel organized crime empires. That film, “The Devil Himself,” will focus on his uncle’s role in breaking up pro-Nazi rallies in New York, aiding the U.S. war effort by keeping dockworker unions in line, and clandestinely supplying an emerging Israel with money and weapons. The film is based on the book “The Devil Himself” by Eric Dezenhall and others.
Mark Lansky, a self-described retired businessman and financial adviser, would not give specific dollar figures, but said he and a small group of fellow investors are covering the bulk of the Flint film’s budget. The motive, he stressed, is his conviction that “those who support Israel are blessed.”
Dvir in making “A Wing and a Prayer” has the advantage of hands-on experience in the genre – he teaches documentary filmmaking at the University of Florida – and the handicap of a very modest budget of $189,000, mostly his own money.