Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Documentary Film About Victorian Anthropomorphic Taxidermist Walter Potter? Yes Please!

As many regular readers know, these last few months I have been hard at work on a new book about Walter Potter, the British Victorian anthropomorphic taxidermist best remembered for such epic tableaux as Kittens’ Wedding (4th image), Rabbits’ Village School (3rd image) and The Death and Burial of Cock Robin. The tiny museum in which he showcased these tableaux--along with sundry freaks (bottom image) and curiosities--was open to the public for nearly one hundred and fifty years until it was, tragically, divided at auction in 2003.

Entitled Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy, this new, lavishly illustrated book will celebrate the life and work of Walter Potter; it aims to reunite--if virtually!--his curious collection which is now, sadly, scattered around the world in a scores of private collections. It features droll and informative text by Potter scholar and collector Dr. Pat Morris; a charming foreword by pop art legend (and Potter enthusiast) Sir Peter Blake; and dozens of brand new photos of some of the most important of Potter's pieces.

The publisher and I invited Ronni Thomas--the man behind the Midnight Archive web series--to produce a video trailer for the book. Ronni became so completely captivated with the subject that he has decided to create, in addition to said trailer, a brand new documentary film based on Walter Potter's life and work.

I think we can all can agree that what the world really needs is a documentary film about the amazing life and work of Walter Potter. And in order to raise funds to complete this project in the style it deserves, Ronni has done what kids today do: He has launched a Kickstarter campaign, from whence the short film above.

I implore you to join me in supporting this worthy cause. And not just out of the kindness of your heart! Funders of this project will also receive a variety of exciting awards including (but not limited to) deluxe DVD/Blue Ray versions of the final film, a special advance copy of the book Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy, special limited edition Potter postcards featuring never before seen photographs, and even, for the highest bidders, a custom film made especially for you. You will also, of course, receive film maker Ronni Thomas' undying gratitude, and contribute towards making the world a better place.

Following is more about the project, in Ronni's own words; You can find out more about this very worthy campaign (and join me in making a pledge!) by clicking here.
The Taxidermy Wonders of Walter Potter: A Short(?) Film
A short documentary featuring the life and strange artwork of amateur taxidermist Walter Potter by Ronni Thomas of The Midnight Archive.

Walter Potter was a Victorian self-taught taxidermist from Sussex, England who is best known for his large-scale anthropomorphic taxidermy tableaux including The Kittens’ Wedding, Rabbits’ Village School and The Death and Burial of Cock Robin. Until very recently, his truly unique collection has only been seen in its entirety by those fortunate enough to have visited his museum before the contents were auctioned to private collectors in 2003. For the first time – and with the help of historians, photographers, and collectors of his work – I intend to document Potter's life, creations and legacy in the latest installment of my award-winning Midnight Archive web series. The Midnight Archive generally consists of short (3–5 minute) pieces, and I have for some time been eager to grow these short 'episodes' into greater and longer stories. I feel that an episode about the life and work of Walter Potter is the perfect project to take to this next level. To do this right will require a little more than the casual subway ride around town. A project of this size will require a budget to make it happen, and I am hoping that I can persuade Potter fans and enthusiasts to pitch in to help make this the great film it deserves to be.

This film will feature some of the very first footage of these fantastic creations over one hundred years in age, many of which are now scattered around the globe in the homes of private collectors and thus nearly impossible to see. Among the collectors I will seek out to play their part are Sir Peter Blake – seminal pop artist, designer of the Sgt. Pepper album cover, and enthusiastic Potter collector – and artist Damien Hirst, who allegedly tried to pay one million pounds to halt the auction and keep the Potter collection intact. The film will also take you behind the scenes into an assortment of fascinating private collections in the US and the UK.  Most importantly, and as always with the work I do, the piece will be thorough, dynamic and beautiful. Please donate all you can!

Risks and challenges
So, Potter's work is now scattered around the globe and owned by many different collectors. Many of the people are not easy to pin down, or are wary of talking to just anyone. Using the track record and proven integrity of The Midnight Archive series, and my connections with the co-author Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein and publishers of Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy – the delightful new coffee table book coming out this September – I have not only unprecedented access to many never-before-seen photographs, but also to many of the narrative's key players. Most importantly, if anyone is already familiar with the work I have created thus far, it becomes clear that I can do humble justice to this subject. I have many relationships with festivals and distributors, and I am well respected as a filmmaker, so I expect to gain a maximum amount of exposure for this project.

I will do this project whether or not this fundraising is successful; it will, however, be a longer and more in-depth work if we manage to raise the money. We're not asking for much, and all funds will go into the film itself (no first-class tickets on this shoot). Much like Potter himself, my intention is to make a great work of art, not capitalize on it...
Again! You can find out more or make a donation by clicking here.

  • Bunny Schoolhouse: Found here 
  • Kitten Wedding: The Telegraph; by Marc Hill/Apex
  • 8 legged kitten postcard: Found here

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