Avant-garde film by Vail native launches for streaming on Prime Video
“The Promise of the Butterfly” could be the first by a Vail Valley native to hit Amazon’s streaming service
“The Promise of the Butterfly,” a film directed and co-produced by Vail native Meredith Kirkman, and her creative partner Andrew Tamarkin, is now streaming on Prime Video. It is one of the first, if not the first film by a Vail native to receive wide distribution on Amazon’s streaming platform.
“It’s very satisfying, because there is so much hard work that went into this. I think there is something special and challenging and hard about the fact that we really did start as a team of two, and we still really are a team of two,” Kirkman said.
The film premiered at the 2019 Vail Film Festival, sharing the story of protagonist Doran, who works as a part-time flower delivery boy and spends his free time journaling and biking around Chicago. An avant-garde coming-of-age story, Doran’s life changes when he meets a mute dancer, who takes him on an unexpected journey inside himself.
“It’s the kind of movie that has enough space in it to have some moments of reflection for your own life, too,” Kirkman said. “It’s a slice of life story. It really does have some beautiful moments for you to reflect inward.”
Funnily enough, just as Kirkman and writer and co-producer Andrew Tamarkin finished fleshing out the film’s idea, “The Shape of Water” was garnering critical acclaim for its focus on a mute protagonist and magical realism. That was in late 2017 and early 2018. They spent most of 2018 working on the film and wrapped up post-production just before its private premiere at the Music Box Theater in Chicago.
Part of what contributed to the magical realism was not only the storyline and its artistic nature, but also a commitment to showing Chicago in a different light. Many movies and TV shows focus on Chicago crime and grime rather than its beauty. Kirkman and Tamarkin wanted to showcase the parks, the lake and the beaches.
“When the sun came out, and it one of those warm beautiful days, it’s hard to compare Chicago,” Kirkman said. “I just got a comment from a gal who whose parents worked there for a few years and spoke highly of the city but she had never gone. And she’s like, ‘I feel like I know Chicago now.’”
Perhaps one of the proudest aspects of this film was how many young people were involved in producing it. Kirkman and Tamarkin met while they both attended college in Chicago, and as they built the idea for “The Promise of the Butterfly,” they knew they would be using resources connected to their universities to make it happen. Typical student films typically involve a cast and crew of a dozen or so people, but by the end, they said 100-120 people worked on the project.
“It maybe it started as a student idea. Neither of us were in film school,” Tamarkin said.
“We were friends with a lot of people we were working with. That was very important from day one. I wanted to make it as professional as we can make it,” Kirkman said.
Another prominent aspect of the film is its desire to share as much art as possible. Tamarkin composed and performed the piano score for the film. Kirkman, whose college education was in performing arts, choreographed dance sequences. The film is divided into five chapters, nodding to acts in the theater, or chapters in a novel.
And showcasing art is one of the ways the film delivers on its message. At its core, Kirkman and Tamarkin call their first feature-length production an “ode to the millennial artist.” When Tamarkin graduated college, he noticed that his peers had no idea what they wanted to do.
“They had just spent four years studying something and they were still questioning what they wanted with their life, and I thought that was really important,” he said. “It’s not about deciding ‘I’m going to do this for the next 70 years of my life.’ It’s deciding to have passion about something. And that passion will guide you in the right direction.”
Since “The Promise of the Butterfly” wrapped, Kirkman and Tamarkin worked on YouthPower365’s HER Film Camp, where girls and non-binary youth learned introductory film production while making their first short film, “Elena.” Kirkman served as the camp’s executive director and the film’s director. It was written by Tamarkin, now in post-production and set for a spring 2021 public release.
To learn more about The Promise of the Butterfly and its creators, see: http://www.thepromiseofthebutterfly.com.
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