original title: Butterflymania
2019, 90 min., color, French
CATEGORIES : Debut, Fantasy
Eric da Costa (Television News Presenter), Yves Lanceau (as the Guide in the Kingdom of Butterflies), Patrick Paillard (Patrick Paparazzi)
Cinematographer : Yves Lanceau
Producers : Irina Fontaine
INTERVIEW OF CYRIL PLANCHON (COMPOSER)
The movie “Butterflymania” is a movie about insects, but the music is so present that it’s almost like a musical. You have written the song that is performed by caterpillars. Could you tell us about collaborating with them?
Well, in fact, the collaboration happened more with the author of this crazy idea, Irina Fontaine. She called me one night to tell me about her upcoming movie project about the wildlife. She offered me to be part of its creation and asked me to compose the music for it and one song. We have worked together in the past, on her previous movies, and it was always in good spirits. So far, I have very good memories of this cooperation, even if she can be very tough and demanding. So, I liked the idea until Irina explained the whole project. Having adults sing, that is something I know I can do. But having one, two, or even a choir of caterpillars… Let’s just say this was pretty new to me. That’s the least we could say. After considering this for a moment, I thought to myself that it had a funny twist to it. And on top of that, it was a professional challenge, which is something I don’t shy away from. So I jumped right in!
And how did it go?
One really has to know Irina. She is a very demanding woman with a very clear idea of what she wants. Which means that, at times, I failed to instantaneously meet her expectations. However, through trial and error, we managed to reach results that satisfied the both of us.
Aside from the music specifically composed for it, the works of other great classical composers can be heard in the movie. Why didn’t you compose music for the whole movie?
Honestly, finding myself surrounded with colleagues as prestigious as Rachmaninov, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Grieg… is something I had nothing against. Together we formed a great team in which we all provided works that suited the director’s desires. And I sure hope this will satisfy the viewers too! This is what truly matters, don’t you think? Besides, all my colleagues are really nice: none of them is here to claim their share of the copyrights!
Were you asked to stick to one particular genre when composing for the movie?
No, the only thing Irina told me is that she only wanted to work with composers whose music was unforgettable to a point where people would hum the melody just for itself. This is what she wanted for “Butterflymania”. So I had to compose music that all viewers would keep in mind when leaving the theater.
What’s your conclusion?
This is not for me to say: ask the audience.
INTERVIEW OF IRINA FONTAINE (DIRECTOR) AND YVES LANCEAU (CINEMATOGRPHER)
In the end, is “Butterflymania” a documentary or a fiction movie?
Irina: Thank you for asking that question, although I was hoping I wouldn’t be asked that ever again! It is actually really hard to make the movie fit into one category more than in the other. One catchphrase that I like is: « all genres are welcome, except those of the boring or useless kinds ».
I’m interested in the content more than in the form: in this case, it is about the protection of the environment and that of all forms of wildlife. Whether it is documentary or fiction isn’t relevant to me because what I have to think about first and foremost is what is the best way to present the movie. The message in it, which I think is essential and targets the younger generations, has to be brought to their attention. It is some sort of torch that we’re passing on to them, thanks to a medium made of splendid images, a script, a joyful atmosphere and beautiful music. I directed the movie to make it playful and comical, humanizing insects to have them explain their issues in a funny language that could be understood by everyone. Now, where is reality and where lies mystery is for you to decide!
How did the creation of “Butterflymania” come about?
Yves: Nothing happens by chance. I met Irina Fontaine far away from here, in Saint Petersburg. She was the member of the jury at a festival in which I took part. During the closing ceremony, I had the opportunity to talk to her about my philosophy as a wildlife cinematographer very much oriented towards the preservation of Nature. And of course I mentioned butterflies. We got on well from the start. I didn’t know then and there that I was talking to a filmmaker who was also a fierce defender of the wildlife. Needless to say, we hit it off pretty well. Then Irina wrote the script (back then, it was titled « Butterfly Cradle ») and asked me if I wanted to work on it. I loved the subject and gladly accepted the offer.
So, the movie stems from a common idea?
Irina: To be more accurate, it stems from a common desire. With Yves, everything boils down to « feeling ». I have a deep respect for his work, but it should also be said that I’ve discovered in him quite a character. It has been a real pleasure working with him! Often, we would understand each other without even having to talk. My requirements were very precise, but he always managed to bring the right answer at the right time, those answers that would make the project move onwards. As for me, I brought what I think is a touch of humor, a non-conformist take on wildlife, and a story to be told. Honestly, we hope that this alternative stance and the musical accompaniment composed by our dear maestro Cyril Planchon will seduce you.
Yves: And why not? There are actually different reasons for that. I started showing interest for butterflies – and insects in general – when I was ten, in 1951. At first I would only observe, then I started taking pictures so that I could show them to children and a wider audience. But it’s the video that allowed me to truly satisfy this passion of mine. Ever since then, my hands have never been far from a camera.
Tell me, how do we get to appreciate what we cannot see? What we do not know?
Yves: There it is! It seems we can only love depending on if we can actually see the object of our love and depending on how it appears in front of us, right? This is the reason why we wanted to tell that story to our viewers, so that they could feel empathy for characters, which are almost invisible, by teaching them how to look at them through the prism of love.
It seems useless to say that filming the micro-fauna must have been complex…
Yves: Yes, indeed, but when you love your job, it is nothing but pleasure. One just needs to be patient, to be able to crouch down and stay motionless for long periods of time, to finally see a blade of grass move. Thanks to this patience and the knowledge of the micro-fauna I have acquired, I can tell that in a few minutes, in a few hours or maybe a few days, I will eventually be privy of an act of life, of a particular behavior. Every one of these moments is a moment of grace and these fill me with joy.
Which audience are you trying to reach with this movie?
Irina: After running a few tests, such as private viewings of the movie, we can confirm that “Butterflymania” can attract all kinds of viewers. So let’s just say the movie is destined to everyone between “7 and 77” years of age. We are pretty confident that the movie can earn some success because it teaches something, it raises people’s awareness on certain issues, and at the same time, it can move and catch the viewer off-guard.
A short conclusion on “Butterflymania”?
Yves: Life on Earth began with the tiniest invisible organisms and could well end with them. So my work is a commitment to defend this « mini-fauna ». It has been said that beauty would save the world, now will we witness that salvation? For this to happen, it really is time for us to transition from words to action. “Butterflymania” is one of those actions.
Irina: To conclude with, I hope that if one only remembers one thing from our movie, it is that we still have time to react, but soon it will be too late. I can guarantee that when you’ll walk out of the movies after watching “Butterflymania”, you’ll be coming out in a good mood and with a few ideas in your pockets. But you’ll also feel that life can be so much better if we only try!
Become who are you!
One of the central narratives of the plot: the story of the caterpillar, which dreams of becoming a butterfly, with the same fate as the main character from Andersen’s “Ugly Duckling”. How to love that what you do not see and that what you do not know?
This trip is intended for adults wishing to return one day in their childhood and to young people eager to grow faster. Now, we are already in the country of the most modest and inconspicuous inhabitants of the earth – insects. During the observation of those insects, those fragile creatures, we imperceptibly become one of them! The inhabitants of this fascinating world reveal the secrets of their daily lives. We are then invited into a strange theater where the tiniest actors unveil their show.