Australian documentary targeting same-sex parenting currently shooting in Sydney
An Australian documentary about same-sex parenting is currently shooting in Sydney, though over 50 children have been interviewed across the nation.
Director Maya Newell, herself raised by two lesbian mothers, wanted to make the film in order to fill what she sees as a gaping hole in the Australian film industry.
“I think there’s a lack of stories about gay families even though we’re in a “gayby” boom,” she said.
“It’s important for these kids to grow up and have their families represented on screens. That’s something I never had when I was growing up and it’s a position I feel I can fill.”
According to statistics listed on the Gayby Baby website, 24 per cent of gay partners are currently raising children.
The film, depicted from the perspective of the children, will take viewers behind the scenes and into the lives of three such families.
“It was important for me to track the families from the perspective of the kids,” Newell said. “We’ve seen (films about) gay and lesbian parents trying (to) conceive but I don’t think we’ve examined the situation from the eyes of the kids before.”
The documentary comes at a time when gay marriage and child rearing are hot topics in media and politics.
“I think one of the big things as well over the last two or three years we’ve had pretty serious marriage quality debates around the world and in Australia,” Newell said.
“So many politicians’ core reason for not allowing (gay) people to marry is because marriage is about children and children need a mother and a father.
“I think that’s a pretty full-on comment for someone who’s probably not even sat down with these kids and talked to them themselves.”
Which is exactly what Newell has spent the past 18 months doing.
Interviewing ‘gayby’ children “Australia-wide” has been an eye-opening experience for Newell, who said sharing experiences of her own childhood created an open and honest environment with children who otherwise may have been reluctant to talk.
“By me sitting down and saying “this is what happened to me,” it helps create a safe, intimate space,” she said. “That’s when you find kids will be completely open with you. Kids are so honest and open and beautiful when they are relaxed.”
Though Newell is unsure if snippets of these interviews (she’s done more than fifty) will make it into the final film, some are available to view on the film’s website, http://www.gaybybabythemovie.com.
What audiences can expect to see in the final product is life in three gay households viewed through the eyes of the children. As Newell puts it, “Stories every child would encounter – transition through high school, puberty… but with an extra element.
“I want to take people behind closed doors and sit at the dining room table.
“I want them to see that Mum still blows your nose for you, you still argue about doing the washing up and in that way there is a commonality which makes the film relevant to anyone.
“But there are also things like the kids beginning to understand (what it means to have gay parents), working out gender roles, working out who you can be. There seems to be a real openness to gender which is a beautiful thing to observe.”
The two thorns in Newell’s side, at the moment, is the absence of a “Dad story” and a struggle for funding.
“The one thing that we’re looking for is a Dad story,” she said. “Gay dads in Australia are a lot rarer (than lesbian families) but we’d love to make contact with one.”
As for finance, Newell has launched a two-month crowd-funding scheme which is due to expire in six days. With a goal of $100, 000, she still has $30 000 to go.
“We’ve raised $70 000 which is pretty cool; our goal is $100 000. We are two-thirds of the way through shooting and have a whole lot of post-production ahead of us,” she said.
“I think this is an exciting new voice to explore, and hopefully this will be the first film to do it.
“We just want to make the best film we can make.”
To make a donation to the film, visit http://pozible.com/gaybybabythemovie