The hours make employment really, really tricky for parents. But because it's hard to get work, we are made to feel grateful that we work at all, in an industry where we know we're expendable. Someone is always ready to jump in and take our place if our demands are deemed too costly by the powers-that-be. And I don't even blame the "powers-that-be" — especially in the indie world, budgets are already spread thin.
I founded Moms-in-Film
to address some of these issues. We're working on building community, raising funds, and providing advocacy. We recently had a fruitful conversation with representatives at SAG-AFTRA, the actor's union.
One of our big takeaways was that female performers are wary of discussing their needs as mothers. There aren't enough roles for women, especially past a certain age. They understandably don't want to broadcast the fact that they've graduated from "sexy young love interest" (more roles available) to "young mom" (not as many roles). Granted, that's a generalization, but there is a documented paucity of complex roles for women, and on-screen mothers can be particularly two-dimensional.
Attitudes and policies need to shift. The corporate world is beginning to offer paid maternity leave, childcare on-site, and job-sharing
. The film industry, supposedly made up of "lefty progressives," should be a model for others to follow instead of lagging so far behind.
It's not as simple as it sounds; childcare on-set requires special insurance, which is costly, and these insurance policies are not currently structured for short-term projects like film shoots.
While we work towards effecting change, we still have to move forward with our careers. We have to fight for our right to tell our stories, while doing the heavy-lifting: actually telling them.