Being a mum is difficult to juggle with life at the best of times. It’s a constant conflicting perspective of being totally in love with your new bundle of joy and being incredible frustrated by the never-ending struggle of figuring out what it wants!
Although, I should say, I cannot speak from experience.
Motherhood and work have always created interesting if not sometimes heated discussions about issues like maternity leave, government subsidies, women’s rights etc. And its no different when it comes to film. The stigma still exists that once a woman leaves to have a baby that’s it! Her career is over and there’s simply no going back. Especially when it comes to film directors who are handed the incredibly large responsibility of making film project come to life. It seems that men simply don’t trust women who are having children to be able to manage a set afterwards. Which is just ridiculous.
Hope Dickson Leach recently wrote an article for The Talkhouse in which she speaks of her experience with childbirth and getting back into the film industry:
“When I became a mother, I disappeared. From my friends, from my work, from myself. Motherhood was such an intense, all-encompassing experience that I didn’t even know I was lost in it. I continued to focus on being a filmmaker, tried to drive projects forward, determined not to let something I had wanted for so long ruin the other thing I had worked so hard for. But something had to give. In the end, it was me.”
But this didn’t discourage Hope in the slightest instead she and others initiated a campaign surrounding working mothers in the film industry called Raising Films and even used her experience as the inspiration for her first feature film The Levelling which just premiered at TIFF and played in competition the London Film Festival, where she won the inaugural IWC Filmmaker Bursary Award.
Of course there have been other amazing women who have had children and continued to produce film work but what is important to recognize about Hope’s story is that she refused to give in to the created stigma’s and instead used her struggles to create a network for others and to fuel her fire for her very first feature film.
Women are not incapable of working after childbirth and it should certainly not be used as an excuse to discredit women when it comes to choosing them as directors for film projects. Hope Dickson Leach is a clear example of this.