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Warsaw Grad nominated for Emmy Award as a Producer

When Austin Francalancia found out Thursday that the documentary he produced was nominated for an Emmy award, he said, “I lost my mind.”

The 2005 Warsaw Community High School graduate produced “The Mars Generation,” along with producer Clare Tucker and executive producers Alexandra Johnes, Edward Felsenthal, Ian Orefice and Jonathan Woods from TIME.

Michael Barnett directed the documentary that follows a group of teenagers at NASA’s space camp as they learn about the science and technology behind a trip to Mars.

“The Mars Generation” is nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Science and Technology Documentary category. The 39th annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards will be presented Oct. 1 in New York.

Francalancia said he found out about the Emmy nomination Thursday morning when the Emmys dropped its nomination list online. He did a quick search for the film and after finding it among the contenders, he called his director, Barnett, first. Barnett was sitting at LAX International Airport in Los Angeles when Francalancia called him. “He had an interesting ride home,” he said.

He then called his parents.

“I was probably the most calm. My dad was really happy. My mom had to walk outside because she was at work, she was crying. They were very overwhelmed. (The film) was a three-year journey, so for it to come to this point is very exciting,” Francalancia said.

“The Mars Generation” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Jan. 20, 2017. It then premiered on Netflix in May 2017.

Francalancia said each step of the way for the documentary – from Sundance to Netflix to the Emmy nomination – has been its own celebration.

He will attend the Emmy Awards in October, along with the other nominees for the film.

With the nomination for “The Mars Generation,” Francalancia said TIME has now been nominated for four Emmy Awards in the last two years. It, along with PBS, won an Emmy in the Outstanding Science and Technology Documentary category in 2017 for its production of “A Year in Space” the same category “The Mars Generation” is nominated in this year. Francalancia said TIME has their pulse on the world and with the company’s ownership of publications like Sports Illustrated, TIME and People among others, the company has so many choices they could go with and he loves working with them.

“When (‘The Mars Generation’) premiered, it was global in every single country, except maybe two that don’t have Netflix,” Francalancia said.

He and others behind “The Mars Generation” were asked to join the American Film Showcase to take the film around the world. They not only showed the documentary in countries like Dubai, but talked to students about filmmaking and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

The American Film Showcase brings award-winning contemporary American documentaries, independent fiction films and documentary know-how to audiences around the world, offering a view of American society and culture as seen by independent filmmakers, according to its website.

“We traveled the world and screened it for kids, letting them see how important this project was and for kids to get involved in something like this,” he said.

Francalancia’s own teachers inspired him in the STEM and history fields.

Chris Parker Bonifield, his former sixth-grade Leesburg Elementary School teacher, got him excited about STEM and he said he took that with him into his career.

“We hope the American Film Showcase and Netflix will inspire a whole new generation of those in STEM education,” Francalancia said.

Warsaw Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert, who is touting STEM education at WCS, was Francalancia’s history teacher in high school. He said Hoffert got him interested in history, which has led to his next project – a scripted series on Belle Gunness, a woman from LaPorte, who is believed to have killed about 40 men.

Francalancia said he’s optioned the book “Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men” by Harold Schechter for the project.

“They think she faked her own death and got away with it,” Francalancia said.

“People, even from Indiana, don’t realize she ran a pig farm. She would place ads in Norway for someone to be her husband. As soon as they showed up, she would kill him and bury him in her back yard. It became like a circus. The sheriff never got any closure. It was an ongoing thing in the early 1900s. No one ever solved it. It’s a big one,” he said.

The project is “out to actresses right now and a couple of filmmakers. It’s moving along pretty quickly. Then we’ll find a home for it,” he said.

Francalancia also said his production company has some exciting documentaries wrapping up right now that they hope to submit to film festivals, maybe even to Sundance again.

As a final note, he said “The Mars Generation” is nominated for an Emmy against some of the best producers and filmmakers in the world. Win or lose, he said it doesn’t matter as the film has already won with how it’s been received.