When Ondine Rarey decided to make a film about her grandfathers, she had no filmmaking experience. She decided going to film school might be the best way to go about realizing the project and applied to the Munich University of Television and Film Germany. Based on a treatment of the film she included with her application, she was accepted.
Time was getting short for the project: the people Ondine needed to interview for the film were in their '80s. Because the first requirement for her degree was a "group film" made with other students in her class, she began trying to get other students interested in her idea. For each student who participated, the University would give $2,500 to FOOLS AND HEROES.
Fellow student Luigi Falorni joined with his $2,500 (and excellent skills as a DP), as did three other students (who ended up being only nominally involved). Ondine and Luigi used the $12,500 pooled from all the participants to finance a whirlwind trip across the United States to film interviews with her grandfathers‚ fellow fighter pilots and conscientious objectors on High-8 (shortly after the trip, several of these individuals passed away).
Based on the interviews, Ondine wrote a treatment to raise completion funds and sent it to public television stations in Germany as well as to foundations in the US. Claudia Gladziejewski at Bavarian Television received a copy and became extremely interested in the project. Because Bavarian Television was only officially allowed to co- produce films made by seniors at the film school, she told her superior and later the press that FOOLS AND HEROES was Ondine and Luigi's senior thesis instead of their first film!
One more trip was made to the United States to look for archive footage and shoot archive photographs, drawings and paintings (this time on digital Beta) at archives reaching from Washington D.C. to Portland, Oregon. All the drawings, photographs and newspapers in the film are originals dating back to the '40s, as are the recordings of the songs used in the soundtrack.
FOOLS AND HEROES was edited for nine months on systems provided by the University. Two versions of the film were completed using completion funds from Bavarian Television Ų a German language version and one in English for the US market Ondine and Luigi made using leftover time at their online and mix sessions