May 2021 Amid all of the excitement for the return of the \u201cgreatest spectacle in racing\u201d\u2014the Indianapolis 500\u2014this May, I am thrilled to share a brief history of the Hoosier who is responsible for the very first Indy 500\u2014Mr. Carl Fisher. His extraordinary contributions to the world of racing and automotive ingenuity have been portrayed by Bloomington native and award-winning screenwriter and film producer Angelo Pizzo. Carmel resident Justin Escue has been working on bringing this epic screenplay \u201c500\u201d to the big screen. Escue is founder, director and producer at My First Bike Productions. From Indiana to Hollywood and Back to Indiana How do you sum up the creative genius and talent into a short article without omitting so many of the successes realized by both Pizzo and Escue? I shall begin with Pizzo\u2019s outstanding works \u201cHoosiers\u201d (1986), \u201cRudy\u201d (1993) and \u201cMy All-American\u201d (2015). These films are more than \u201csports\u201d stories. These films, along with Pizzo\u2019s other screenplays, depict a person\u2019s journey that often touches on relationships, redemption, fortitude, perseverance and the human experience. After spending some time in Hollywood, Pizzo moved back to his hometown of Bloomington in early 2004, where he continues to write and produce. He is currently working on two new scripts that he wrote during the pandemic. Angelo Pizzo Fellow Hoosier and creative type, Escue was raised in New Palestine, Indiana, and got his start in the performing arts as a musician. He explored the world of filmmaking and acting while at Ball State University, where he began producing and directing feature-length and short independent films. After graduation, Escue moved to Austin, Texas, where he worked on big budget films. His path led him to L.A., where he continued to work as a writer, producer and director before moving back to his Hoosier stomping grounds where he is currently working on multiple projects, including the \u201c500\u201d film. A few of Escue\u2019s production and directing credits in both film and television include \u201cCypher\u201d (2021) (TV series), \u201c#2WheelzNHeelz\u201d (2017) (TV series), \u201cTo Do List\u201d (2007) (short), \u201cOpen Mic\u2019rs\u201d (2006) and \u201cSaving Star Wars\u201d (2004). A Story a Hundred Years in the Making Many devout fans of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and the Indianapolis 500 may know who Carl Fisher was, but as a self-professed fan, I learned from Pizzo and Escue that this man\u2014born in Greensburg, Indiana\u2014was so much more than the guy who was the driving force behind the creation of IMS and advocate for the development of automobiles, aviation and transportation. Fisher led the Lincoln Highway Commission, and as a real estate mogul, Fisher transformed Miami Beach from undesirable swamplands to the vacation mecca and vibrant city that it is today. Escue shared with me that Fisher Island, Florida, was in fact named after Fisher. Just a few of Fisher\u2019s other ventures include the Dixie Highway and the Prest-O-Lite Company that produced carbide-gas-fired headlights. Pizzo\u2019s screenplay depicts Fisher\u2019s life in and around the development of IMS and the Indianapolis 500. Pizzo also touched on several aspects of Fishers life that made him both a hero and a heretic, depending on the viewers\u2019 perspectives, including his marriage to Jane Watts, who was 15 when they married. When asked what about Fisher\u2019s life and Escue\u2019s idea to bring Fisher\u2019s story to the big screen compelled him to write the screenplay dubbed \u201c500,\u201d Pizzo replied, \u201cIt was a combination of factors. I\u2019ve been a passionate IndyCar fan all of my life. So, when Justin brought up this idea of the \u2018origin story\u2019 about how it all started, it was kind of in my wheelhouse.\u201d Pizzo emphasized that \u201c500\u201d is not a \u201cracing\u201d story but is the story of Carl Fisher and the journey he went on throughout his life. \u201cI have two different parts of the audience that I serve,\u201d Pizzo explained. \u201cThere are those who are aficionados and have a passion for the particular sport , and then I also have to serve those who could care less. For example, the ideal compliment on a movie like \u2018Rudy\u2019 is someone saying, \u2018I laughed. I cried. I love that movie, but you know, I don\u2019t like sports. I don\u2019t like football. And I don\u2019t like Notre Dame.\u2019 That\u2019s my target audience. So, in terms of the character of Carl Fisher\u2014he was an extraordinary and complicated figure. I could write 10 movies about him. He was one the great salesmen, entrepreneurs and visionaries of the 20th century.\u201d In the script, Pizzo touches on the fact that after the first Indy 500, due to the controversy surrounding the multiple fatalities involving both drivers and spectators and the declared winner of the first race\u2014some still debate whether Ray Harroun was indeed the first winner\u2014there was almost never another Indy 500. \u201cCarl was relentless,\u201d Pizzo shared. \u201cA characteristic that we all hope that we have in ourselves because that\u2019s the way things get done and dreams are realized. The first race was a disaster, so it\u2019s definitely a part of the story and how Carl Fisher recovers from that.\u201d A Director\u2019s Dream to Create \u201c500\u201d in Indy and Carmel, Indiana Escue\u2019s vision is to film this historic and exhilarating script in Indiana using local crews and talent. \u201cAngelo has found a way to capture the spirit of who didn\u2019t have kids, so he had no legacy and is mostly forgotten,\u201d Escue stated. \u201cWhen we started to research who Carl Fisher was as a man and all the things that he did, it\u2019s insane to me that the story hasn\u2019t already been told\u2014especially here! And to have someone like Angelo with his pedigree be the guy telling Carl\u2019s story is amazing.\u201d Escue continued, \u201cAfter graduate school at Ball State, I went to Austin and started working for Robert Rodriguez and Richard Linklater. It was 2000, and they had started building their first studio out there. I was sort of on the ground floor of this. They took a city that had relatively not a lot of production, and I watched it grow into this huge, booming community of film production. And right now, Austin is like No. 2 behind Los Angeles.\u201d Though Escue knows that there won\u2019t be any issues finding qualified and talented crews in the local area and region, the issues of funding for the film and support from local municipalities are his greatest obstacles right now. Escue is seeking individuals and corporations who want to be a part of something big and quite possibly iconic that will complete Pizzo\u2019s trilogy of Hoosier stories made into films. \u201cMy biggest hurdle is finding a group of people who are alternative-minded, who want to do something different and see the vision of something that\u2019s artistic,\u201d Escue shared. \u201cCarmel is a very artistic community, but we\u2019re trying to find people who want to help bring production to this city like Austin did. I\u2019m trying to create jobs and sustain a business model that\u2019s working in other cities. If I can bring this film and any subsequent series to Carmel and to Indiana, that would change everything.\u201d For more information on My First Bike Productions and Justin Escue, and for anyone interested in learning how they can contribute to making \u201c500\u201d come to fruition, visit myfirstbike.net.