Interview with Filmmaker Kristina Dutton (BIOPIXELS)

BIOPIXELS, 4min., USA, Animation
Directed by Kristina Dutton
Butterflies and moths comprise 12% of all species known to man (180,000 species!), and their seemingly endless biodiversity is visually translated on their wings through color and pattern variation. Incredibly, we humans share these specific wing shaping genes with butterflies, and actually these major molecular paintbrushes are found in numerous other creatures as well.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

This film really came to life through a friendship with butterfly biologists Arnaud Martin and Nipam Patel, who were involved in the production. Arnaud was also involved in the concept, and most of the butterflies and moths in this film are from Nipam’s collection at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. Over 50,000 specimens! It’s a sight to behold. I learned so much from them over the years, and I wanted to share their research along with the beauty of butterfly biodiversity and microscopy.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

We first settled on the idea of an animated short in the summer of 2020, because of COVID. We’d originally imagined a more expansive project, but decided animated shorts would work best, and we made this film along with another that compliments the subject, but with a very different approach. We completed the film 2 years later, in August 2022.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Microscopic mosaics

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

I was lucky to know Brandon McFarland, the animator, from a previous project. He and I had to mind-meld long-distance over phone calls, emails, and Zoom in order to create an arch and manage the thousands of individual images we were working with.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I loved hearing that viewers responded to it as a film, an art piece, and an homage to nature.

It’s also good for me to hear that a few viewers weren’t clear they were watching microscopic images and wondered if it was simply macro photography. Something to consider when presenting such a film!

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I’m a composer who has scored films, and

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Sans Soleil, by Chris Marker.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I’d love to connect more directly with the audience. Perhaps through an online Q&A? Or by responding to questions in the podcast, with notifications to the audience members prior to the podcast. I’ve spent a lot of time on stage as a live event performer, and I love the interaction with the audience.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Great. Very straightforward.

10. What is your favorite meal?


11. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m composing music for a ballet production in San Francisco.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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