Maya Newell and Charlotte Mars – director and producer of Gayby Baby. Image from www.richardhartley.com
Our friends at Young Vagabond interviewed the women behind Gayby Baby, an observational documentary told from a child’s-eye-view that will be released later this year. Gayby Baby follows the experiences of kids with same sex parents. Where previous films have navigated the world of LGBTQI parents and their quest to conceive, it’s now time to hear from the kids themselves.
LGBTQI stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Intersex. To find out more check out our posts on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
Young Vagabond editor Haylee Collins chatted to Gayby Baby’s Director, Maya Newell, and Producer, Charlotte Mars about making the documentary.
Young Vagabond: How did the two of you meet?
Charlotte: Day one of university. We looked at our schedules and realised we had every single class together. Luckily we liked each other or it could have been pretty awkward…
Maya: It was part fate, part utter attraction. I remember gazing in awe at [Charlotte] as she intelligently answered all the questions in her 80s tropical fruit jumpsuit.
YV: Why did you decide to make Gayby Baby?
Charlotte: I think when people think about same-sex marriage or gay rights they tend to think about the adults – the people who are gay themselves – rather than the children of those adults, many of whom, like Maya, are grown up now and have something to say about their experiences.
Maya: Most children can turn on the television every night and see some semblance of their family story told onscreen. Gaybies – Babies with Gay parents – can’t. There were so many hilarious, uncomfortable, joyous moments of my childhood that had everything to do with having lesbian mothers. I wanted to make the film that I would have loved to have seen as a child, the film that would validate me and my family.
Poster for Gayby Baby, image from www.out.com
YV: How did you decide that you wanted to make careers out of filmmaking and directing?
Maya: I don’t think that I ever decided I would make a career out of filmmaking and I am not sure that I will. All I know is that right now, I am passionate about telling stories and I suppose if you give everything you really love doing a try someone might call it a career someday.
Charlotte: I love telling stories, and being told stories. As a kid I was totally transported by films and storybooks and would spend hours re-imagining myself in them. I probably spend far too much time within my head in a story…. I don’t think there was ever a question in my mind that I would make and write films.
YV: What advice can you give to young women wanting a career in the film industry?
Charlotte: For me one big lesson has been to tell the stories I know. Not faking anything. Sharing the truth of my reality has been the scariest but most exciting thing for me.
Maya: It is essential that the film industry – like every other industry in Australia – has equal women to men. Every person has different stories to tell, we all have something unique to say.
YV: Who has had the greatest influence on your life so far?
Maya: My two brilliant mothers who have taught me the ways of the good fight.
Charlotte: Look, let’s be honest, probably my Mum. But also, some of the women I’ve been lucky enough to work with – though they probably don’t realise it…also my friends…and Frida Kahlo.
YV: What does work currently involve for each of you on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis?
Charlotte: My day job is working at a film and TV production company, developing ideas and scripts for big TV shows or feature films, and at night and on weekends I write my own stuff, or work on my documentaries or other films.
Maya: I don’t have a regular schedule. The last 7 weeks I spent everyday in the edit for our TV docGrowing up Gayby, which was about 9 hours every day in an edit suite. But today I watched 3 films for inspiration and made an excellent lunch.
YV: Many teen girls struggle with confidence, body image, bullying etc. Were you affected by anything like this growing up?
Charlotte: Absolutely. I still struggle with the confidence and body image stuff. Now that I’m making films I do feel it’s my responsibility to try and offer different portrayals of women on screen. I’m sick of seeing the same narrow type of beauty, it just bores me and I think we can do better.
Maya: I think that the comforting thing is that every teenager and adult struggles with some self-confidence issue or moments of doubt about themselves. This is what it means to be human. You just have to let the feeling run its course and then do things that make you feel good about yourself.
YV: What is your favourite quality about yourself?
Maya: One of the things that I like about myself is that I make a real effort to maintain good ethics in my work and in life in general.
Charlotte: I have an inquiring mind. I ask a lot of questions, which is potentially annoying, but I actually think most people really love talking about themselves, and I love hearing it, so it (usually) works well.
YV: What advice would you give to your 13-year-old self?
Charlotte: Don’t apologize for who you are. Seriously. Wins or losses, try to give no F’s at all about the haters, just take the lessons that come your way.
Maya: Take risks and have the courage to make mistakes. Also, learn to listen to yourself, your intuition is almost always the right choice.
To find out more about Gayby Baby head to www.thegaybyproject.com for details. This interview was originally published in Young Vagabond and has been republished with permission.
Co-founder, creative director and editor of Young Vagabond, Haylee balances a fierce passion for the empowerment of women with her desire to create honest, alternative media. She believes in fighting with words for a better world, so long as it’s done from the heart.