NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - A film crew will be working in Neenah to create a docudrama that revisits a hostage situation that turned deadly.
As WBAY has been following, Brian Flatoff was convicted of taking three hostages at Eagle Nation Cycles in December of 2015 when he went to kill another person who was not there. He was sentenced to a hundred years in prison for the incident.
Hostage Michael Funk was shot and killed by police after he escaped the shop while armed during the standoff. Funk's family later filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Neenah, but a judge dismissed it saying the officers were justified in the shooting.
“It’s been hard, it’s been really hard and it’s - I mean today is kind of a really bittersweet day,” said Kay Reetz.
Cast and crew members like Reetz gathered at Eagle Nation Cycles to start preparing for “The Fifty Million Dollar Bullet”, a docudrama about Michael Funk’s death.
“To tell the whole story, and everything that we’re telling in this movie is factual stuff,” said Reetz. “We have the real body cams, we have the statements, we have everything that we need to tell the truth.”
Executive Producer David Starr heard about Michael Funk’s case only a month ago at an Appleton film festival.
“It was totally beyond my imagination and I said to her that this is a story that must be told,” said Starr. “There is so much twist and turn to this story, you can’t make this up.”
They plan to use about 200 local extras for this project, and some of the main actors in it are people who were actually involved.
“We’re reliving this every day, it’s very hard to deal with for all of us,” said Steven Erato.
Erato was Funk’s friend and is one of the surviving hostages who will be in the film. Much of it will be shot in his business, Eagle Nation Cycles, where the hostage situation took place.
“I want it to be the way it really was,” said Erato.
Erato and others involved say they want the film to show people what happened that day.
“There’s still people who believe he wouldn’t drop the gun and that’s why he got shot,” said Erato. “I mean it is just not true.”
They also want to show who Funk was.
“Michael Funk was not a bad guy,” said Erato. “He didn’t threaten to kill anybody, he was in here hoping that the police were going to rescue him.”
“He was a hard worker, he was a family man, he was a good friend to a lot of people and that was never really portrayed over the years to the public,” said Reetz.
People involved feel this is the story they’ve been waiting to tell for four years.
“I think there will be some healing for those of us, the three of us, that were involved that day, if the truth is told, and I think it will be,” said Erato.
Interviews and auditions for extras will be held at Eagle Nation Cycles on Nov. 19 at 12 p.m. They plan to begin filming in June and hope to have a theatrical release of the film in Dec. 2020.