Patterson & Bonaparte Documentary
Discover how a Baltimore belle overcame her tragic marriage to Napoleon’s brother to become one of the world’s most fascinating women.
What's the Film About?
An independent production of Make Your Mark Media, this one-hour documentary will tell the story of one of America’s first international celebrities – Elizabeth Patterson. Her story is romantic, with twists and turns worthy of a spy novel. Like a Shakespearean tragedy, its compelling, flawed characters are caught in a web of high-stakes world politics and driven by powerful human emotions.
The eldest daughter of a wealthy Baltimore merchant, eighteen-year-old Elizabeth met the debonair Jérôme Bonaparte in 1803. Within a few months they were married. In 1805 they crossed the Atlantic to present the pregnant Elizabeth to Napoleon. But the Emperor banned "Miss Patterson" from French soil and soon annulled the marriage - he had other plans for Jérôme.
A woman far ahead of her time, Elizabeth raised her child alone and forged an independent life, investing in stock and real estate and trying to secure a title for her son. Her wit, beauty, brilliance, and fierce drive enabled her to travel in elite diplomatic, social, and literary circles in America and Europe.
To her disappointment, her son and grandsons never entered the European nobility, but her grandson Charles gained prominence as an attorney and served in the Cabinet of Theodore Roosevelt as Secretary of the Navy and Attorney General.
The film will bring Elizabeth’s life and legacy into focus with meticulously researched documents, artifacts, imagery, and period settings.
Maryland Public Television will distribute the program nationally to public television stations, reaching a large general audience.
Award-winning actor Ed Asner will narrate the film.
Why Do We Need Your Support?
The purpose of this Kickstarter campaign is to raise matching funds for grants. (We have applied for a $50,000 grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.) If this Kickstarter campaign is successful, we can begin production in July.
Our total budget for the film is over $350,000. We will be applying for other state and federal grants and are seeking funding from corporations, banks, and other organizations.
Public television does not provide any direct funding. Maryland Public Television will coordinate national distribution and provide other support.
Why Is This Story Important?
Over the past fifty years, feminism has completely reshaped the way women think about their life choices, their families, and their finances. This often results in women and girls today feeling disconnected from historical women, whose options were so limited and whose lives seem one-dimensional. Elizabeth Patterson, a woman far ahead of her time, raised her child alone and forged an independent life. As an astute investor in stocks and real estate, she parlayed her annuity into a sizable fortune of over $1 million. Few and far between are the role models from America's early years who might be seen as suitable inspiration for today's women and girls who wish to make their mark as distinct, successful individuals.
Where Will My Pledge Go?
Your contribution to this Kickstarter campaign will go toward part of the production budget - filming at locations in Maryland and recording Mr. Asner's narration in California.
We had a successful Kickstarter campaign for our first film, Anthem. I know we can do it again!
What Is The Timeline?
Pre-production research and planning for the documentary are already underway. Filming starts in July 2016, running for about one year at locations in Baltimore, Annapolis, and elsewhere in Maryland. We hope to film in Cassel (Germany), Paris, London and Denmark as well. This phase also includes interviews with numerous scholars, curators, and other experts.
Post-production in the second half of 2017 involves editing all the raw footage, as well as incorporating an original music soundtrack composed by James J. Kavinski, to fashion the most compelling narrative. This phase runs through the end of 2017. Once the final version of the film is delivered to Maryland Public Television, broadcasts could begin by early summer of 2018.
The Production Team:
Mark Hildebrand will serve as the film’s producer, director, and editor. His 2012 film Anthem: The Story Behind The Star-Spangled Banner has been aired more than 3,000 times on public television stations across the country. Maryland Public Television aired his latest film Brookeville: Capital for a Day in August 2015. Hildebrand has been executive director of Make Your Mark Media since 2009.
Julien Jacques will serve as director of photography on the film. He was co-editor and cameraman on Anthem: The Story Behind The Star-Spangled Banner and director of photography for Brookeville: Capital for a Day.
James J. Kavinski will compose and record an original score for the film. His music can be heard in the preview video for this project. He composed the soundtrack for Brookeville: Capital for a Day.
Alexandra Deutsch will serve as the film’s lead historian. Chief Curator of the Maryland Historical Society since 2009, she curated “Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte and Her Quest for an Imperial Legacy.” Deutsch’s book on the life of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, published by the Maryland Historical Society, will release in 2016.
Other scholars involved in the project for research and potential film interviews include author and journalist Richard Brookhiser, historian and MdHS CEO Mark Letzer, Annapolis historian Jane W. McWilliams, French historian and filmmaker Charles Germain, and Oxford scholar and British maritime historian Justin Reay.
Award-winning actor Ed Asner will narrate the film.
Please Pledge Any Amount
Remember - your pledge will not be collected if our goal of $50,000 is not reached within the 30-day campaign period. Although we encourage large donations, you can still help by pledging $5 or $10. And you can help even more by telling your friends and asking them to give what they can. And if they tell their friends ... well, if 5,000 people pledged $10 that would meet our goal!
Make Your Mark Media, Inc. is a nonprofit organization with tax-exempt status. If you want to make a tax-deductible pledge you can do it through this Kickstarter campaign (but you can't claim one of the rewards) or you can contact me (Mark Hildebrand) through our website - www.mym-media.org.
Risks and challenges
Fundraising is our biggest challenge. We have a great story, the experts to help us tell it, and the cooperation of the Maryland Historical Society, the Maryland State Archives, Historic Annapolis and the B&O Railroad Museum.
With two documentaries that have aired on public television, we have a proven track record. Maryland Public Television has expressed their support for national distribution, but that also requires funding.
The total budget for the film is over $350,000. We are applying for grants and seeking corporate sponsorship. We will be fundraising throughout production.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)