Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family is an animated adaptation of the short story written by noted American horror author H.P Lovecraft in 1920. The film is fiscally sponsored by The New York Foundation for the Arts, one of the oldest and most reputable programs of its kind in the U.S and will be created by award-winning independent animator, Einar Baldvin. A fiscal sponsorship with NYFA, grants the project an non-profit status.
One of Lovecraft's earlier stories, Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn is a macabre tale filled with insanity and death dealing with the tainted ancestry and madness of the once noble Jermyn family line. The story takes place over a period of 200 years in England, The Americas, and The Congo. It follows different members of Jermyn family, and chronicles their fall from grace following a trip to the Congo during the 18th century.
Einar Baldvin (director, animator, creator)
Einar Baldvin was born in Reykjavik, Iceland. A CalArts (BFA) and USC (MFA) graduate, his animated shorts have played all around the world, including at the prestigious Annecy, Ottawa, Zagreb, Holland, Stuttgart and Hiroshima international animation festivals as well as the Telluride Film Festival and Clermont-Ferrand.
His latest film, The Pride of Strathmoor (2014) won the jury prize for best animated film at Slamdance as well as The Grand Jury Award for Best Animated Short at the Florida Film Festival, Best Nordisk Short at Nordisk Panorama and The New Talent Award at Fantoche International Animation Festival.
Einar is the writer and illustrator of Starburns Industries' (Rick and Morty, Anomalisa) upcoming dark fantasy novel The Crawling King
During the writing and production of The Pride of Strathmoor, I remembered Lovecraft again. I had not exactly forgotten him, having read his stories as a child but for some reason I felt his influence strongly. Even at a young age, his abject racism, fueled by an almost comical paranoia stuck out to me and now, as I was writing and animating a film about a similar character - I channelled the memories of his stories and his worldview into my film.
It was not clear to me until I finished the film and revisited Lovecraft’s work how much of an impact he had had on me; and as I revisited the stories I knew his work was something I wanted to tackle next.
Having revisited the complete works of Lovecraft, I settled on a lesser known story of his, Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family. Perhaps the most blatantly transparent story involving Lovecraft’s deep obsessions with race, ancestral taint and madness, it might also be the greatest of his earliest works - a fever journey through the dark jungles of Africa, England and an American circus and a story of the wider implications of the colonization of Africa.
An adaptation of Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family is also perfect follow up to my earlier film The Pride of Strathmoor which dealt with many of the same themes. While The Pride of Strathmoor tells the story of a fictional, obsessive white supremacist through his supposedly real journal. Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermyn, is the pure obsessive fiction of an actual white supremacist. A man whose personal writings and fiction represent a similar worldview to that of Strathmoor's protagonist.
Take for instance this extract of Lovecraft’s letter to Belknop Long:
“The organic things—Italo-Semitico-Mongoloid—inhabiting that awful cesspool could not by any stretch of the imagination be call’d human. They were monstrous and nebulous adumbrations of the pithecanthropoid and amoebal; vaguely molded from some stinking viscous slime of earth’s corruption, and slithering and oozing out on the filthy streets or in and out of windows, and doorways in a fashion suggestive of nothing but infesting worms or deep-sea unnamabilities. They—or the degenerate gelatinous fermentation of which they were composed—seem’d to ooze, seep and trickle thro’ the gaping cracks in the horrible houses...and I thought of some avenue of Cyclopean and unhwolesome vats, crammed to the vomiting-point with gangrenous vileness, and about to burst and inundate the world in one leprous cataclysm of of semi-fluid rottenness.”
Houellebecq has the following to say about that passage:
“Indisputably great Lovecraftian prose. But what race could possible have provoked this outburst? He himself no longer knew; at one points he mentions the “Italo-Semitico-Mongoloids.” The ethnic realities at play had long been wiped out; what is certain is that he hated them all and was incapable of any greater specificity. His descriptions of the nightmare entities that populate the Cthulhu cycle spring directly from this hallucinatory vision. Racial hatred provokes in Lovecraft the trancelike poetic state in which he outdoes himself by the mad rhythmic pulse of cursed sentences; this is the source of the hideous and cataclysmic light that illuminates his final works.”
Houellebecq is exactly right. There is no separation of the opinions from the art the opinions that fuelled the writing. This is the guiding principle of my film adaptation of Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family — to infuse each frame and the depiction of each passage with the deep fears of Lovecraft himself. The fears that inspired him to write that story of a curse from Africa that doomed an entire lineage.
As such, the film will be a portrait of Lovecraft as much as it will be an adaptation of his story. The sense of mystery, adventure and morbid curiosity will be there but underpinned with the dark sense of something being fundamentally wrong with the vision and the world as a whole. The film will be animated in a style that pays tribute to the era in which the story was written - the classic Hollywood style of the early twentieth century. But it will be a tainted version, a darker, more gothic in style with the added degeneration of a hundred years to fit a demented message from a time gone by. Like Lovecraft’s most famous monster Cthulhu, it will be appear like an ancient evil being, sprung out of darkness to unnatural life.
The style is fitting, many of the early American cartoons dealt with adventure, often the exploration of Africa , journeys into decaying mansions and demented carnivals . When we look at them now, they are formally creative, unbound, thrilling and often refreshingly dark — filled with skeletons, demons, knives and ghouls. But to the playfulness and adventure and casual darkness there is the real and omnipresent darkness of the past, the darkness of colonialism and slavery, blatantly obvious in
their depictions of Africa and its inhabitants. The same dynamics are at work in Lovecraft's story which straddles between playfulness and macabre darkness to the historic implications of the story itself.
Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermyn can be a true heir to all of this, those elements being at the forefront of the story.m. Like Lovecraft himself and his work, it will be harrowing but hold limitless layers of morbid fascination for those willing to succumb.
Andrew P. Alderete (producer)
A former neuroscientist, Andrew has spent the past decade working in Hollywood on films/tv including working at Universal Pictures (Fast Five, Bridesmaids, This is 40) and as Creative Executive/Assistant to producer Dana Brunetti at Kevin Spacey's Trigger Street Productions (House of Cards, , Captain Phillips, and 50 Shades of Grey). He now works in film concert tour publicity including the worldwide tours of the Harry Potter, Dreamworks Animation, Godfather, and the Gladiator Live Film Concert Series. Alderete has also developed and expanded brand exposure including biotech startup Xenotope Diagnostics, Inc., and other media companies including KNR Productions, the Trigger Street website(s), and the Trigg.la Podcast Network. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College with a MFA from CalArts in Film, and continues to produce experimental shorts and soundtrack scores in his spare time.
Natalie Metzger (producer)
Award-winning producer and director, Natalie Metzger explores the dark, surreal side of human nature with her “visually rich and thoughtful work”. Metzger's work has been showcased in over 50 festivals around the world, receiving 15 awards including Best Director, Best Woman Filmmaker, Best Feature Documentary, Best Music Video, Best Experimental Film, Most Controversial Film, and multiple Telly and Aurora Awards.
Metzger’s feature documentary SPECIAL BLOOD currently screens around the world to sold out audiences. She also produced the film THE ROBBERY which is an Official Selection of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and SXSW. THE ROBBERY was one of 6 films that she produced for the Fullscreen series THE MINUTES COLLECTION, which was an Official Selection of the Atlanta Film Festival and Nashville Film Festival. Metzger also produced the YouTube Red series MATPAT’S GAME LAB, winner of a Streamy Award for Best Virtual Reality series and nominated for Best Non-Fiction series. Also an accomplished writer, Metzger won the Gold Prize at the Page International Screenwriting Awards for her sci-fi script IMMORTAL.
Metzger holds a Master of Fine Arts from California Institute of the Arts and a Bachelor of Arts from Emory University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude and received the Sudler Award in the Arts and the Pioneer Award.