'If Vladimir Nabokov had never written a line of fiction, he would have an honoured reputation as a naturalist, and an expert on a large group of butterflies known as Blues.'- Stephen Jay Gould
My name is Michael House, the director of this film. A few years ago I read an article about Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita. In this article Nabokov was quoted saying 'If I could choose, I think that I would prefer to be remembered as a Lepidopterist, instead of a writer'.
I learned that throughout his life Nabokov had been a passionate Lepidopterist (one who studies butterflies). As a boy in his native Russia and on holidays in France and Germany, Nabokov collected butterflies, as a student at Cambridge he published his first scientific paper on butterflies, and in his forties he became the world expert on the large subfamily, the Blues. He caught specimens of new species, he identified many new species he or others had caught, and he was the first reviser of the South American representatives of the Polyommatini tribe. Nabokov even named new butterfly species in honour of his friends Neonympha dorothea for example was named after Dorothy Leuthold who drove Nabokov and his wife on their first American butterfly hunt to the Grand Canyon in 1941.
Nabokov made numerous contributions to lepidopterology, within the small part of it in which he could concentrate in his few years as a laboratory scientist. He applied rigorously new techniques like genitalic dissection, even identifying new diagnostic features of Lycaeides genitalia, and analysed wing patterns to a finer degree than had ever been done. His work became the standard first for North American butterflies in the complicated genus Lycaeides, and then in the whole South American tribe of the Polyommatini, which he fearlessly revised from very few available specimens, in a way that has stood the test of massive new evidence from the last twenty-five years.
A group of Harvard scientists recently did DNA testing on the Blues, which Nabokov theorised about in the 1940s. These scientists proved that Nabokov had been absolutely correct in his theories of the Blues migration.
I was surprised to learn this 'other' side of Nabokov. I read all I could on the subject, discovering that Nabokov was an extraordinary scientist without any formal training in biology.
Up until this point my experience with Nabokov was limited to his iconic novel Lolita. 50+ years after its publication Nabokov's Lolita tops 'best novel of the century' lists, still creating controversy among its millions of readers.
For over two years I have been researching, filming and gathering information for this documentary film about Nabokov's passionate love affair with butterflies and the story of his Lepidoptery pursuits.
Working with Brian Boyd, Nabokov's official biographer; The Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia; numerous Lepidopterists including Dr. Kurt Johnson author of Nabokov's Blues and the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology where Nabokov served as curator in the 1940s (after he and his Jewish wife Véra escaped Nazism to America), I have brought together a project that will explain the lesser-known Nabokov. The film will tell in simple language what Nabokov contributed to the study of butterflies, how his work plays a role today in biology studies and how science and art came together for Nabokov.
One impact this film will have is the widening of peoples understanding of the interconnectedness of scientific work and artistic work. Often separated these two disciplines compliment one another, Nabokov being a ideal case study to explore this fact.
Another big impact of this film will be to awaken the viewer to the infinite wonder of nature via Nabokov's passion for butterflies. This idea is at the heart of the film. An important aspect of the project is to explain that one of the 20th centuries most respected novelist spent vast amounts of his time immersed in the natural world. In a world that often separates science and culture this film shows how Nabokov used butterflies to join them together.
I strongly feel that telling the story of a person such as Nabokov, whose love of nature & science has resulted in furthering habitat protection and deepening biodiversity knowledge is very important. Its a story that should be made widely known.
What We Need & What You Get
We need $91,400 to finish this film. We have thus far been funded by donations from friends and family, now we are at the point when it is time to complete this film and release it. We need money to cover - additional interview filming, various post-production costs such as sound design, colour grade, music, audio mix, motion graphics, subtitling - the most costly expense will be archive footage licensing.
This film will get made, my target is to finish it by mid-2014 with your support this can be done. If we don't meet our goal for this campaign I will continue to work on the project, but with your help I can complete Lolita's Butterfly to the very highest standards in the near future. In all cases, even if a second campaign is needed, the film will be released.
Since I have begun this project two key figures in Nabokov's story have passed away including his son Dmitri, my point is time is a real consideration for this film - help me get it done now.
It is important to me that I encourage and practice green film making. This film will be created in ways that don't cause damage to the environment.
Over the past 4 years I have made five feature films on art during which I have developed a method of using SKYPE along with local camera operators to conduct interviews all over the world. I stay in Paris and conduct the interview via SKYPE (or phone) while a local camera-person films the subject, the footage is then sent to me over the Internet. This is one way I keep production costs down and keep travel omissions low for the production.
When completed Lolita's Butterfly will be made available to viewers worldwide on http://swimcinema.com - this is an international platform for films on art that encourages green consumerism.
Once the film is done it will be shown internationally at film festivals and by broadcasters, it will also be offered to schools and museums for use in classrooms and study groups.
Please help us finish this film by 'pre buying' it. Once it is finished you will receive an HD download of 'Lolita's Butterfly' one month before it is released to the general public, we will also include an immeditate download of The Magnifcent Tati our internationally acclaimed film on French cinema icon Jacques Tati.
There are some additional great gifts if you choose to get involved: limited edition DVD with special extra material, posters of the film, original paintings of butterflies (featured in the film), invitations to the premiere of the film in the company of the director & those who appear in the film (travel expenses excluded), even the chance to become a named associate film producer.
As a Sponsor you can use this film to promote your business, your name (or your business name) will appear in the premiere spot of the opening credits... This film was made possible through the support of (your company).... for a mere $15,000 you will receive global exposure.
I am an American composer and film maker based in Paris, I am from from San Francisco. I have made five feature documentary films on major artists (Revealing Mr. Maugham, The Magnificent Tati, Eugéne & Berenice - Pioneers of Urban Photography, Meeting Shakespeare & Fred Lyon - Living Through the Lens). All of my films have been shown on television throughout the world and screened in festivals such as The Telluride International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival & San Francisco's LBGT Film Festival. I was a judge at the FIFA International Film Festival in Montréal, Canada in March 2013. I make factual films on art because I feel creativity is vital to living a healthy, happy life and that the history of art is a very valuable subject for everyone.
Please help us in our big push to get this film about Nabokov and his Butterflies made - it is a subject that deserves to be shared - it's a celebration of nature, science and art.
Other Ways You Can Help
Spread the word, use your Facebook page and email contacts to help share this endeavour, recommend this project to friends, associates and organisations and send them the link to our Indiegogo campaign page. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We want and appreciate your feedback so all comments and insights welcome, thank you.
*Be sure to check the 'updates' tab at the top of this page (between the page title and video), every few days we will post new developments on the project.
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