GUEST BLOG: THIS MAMA DOES AWARDS CEREMONIES BY HOPE DICKSON LEACH
The next in our series of guest blogs is from wonderful writer, director and mama Hope Dickson Leach, whose first feature film, The Levelling starring Ellie Kendrick (pictured), screens this weekend as part of the Underwire Film Festival in London. I managed to see it at the London Film Festival and it’s bloody brilliant, so do go along and see it if you can!
I made a film. It’s a low budget film, which I wrote and directed and it stars the magnificent Ellie Kendrick who some of you may know as Meera Reed from Game of Thrones. It’s called The Levelling and it’s a story about a father and daughter set on a dairy farm in Somerset six months after the floods destroyed much of the area. It’s my first feature film, and had taken me two years to make. I also have two small children, now aged 6 and 4, who have been on much of this journey with me. And have spent all of it at the forefront of my thoughts as I have battled managing such an enormous endeavour whilst trying to be a mama at the same time.
I’ve written about my struggles doing this for Raising Films, an organisation I co-founded to support parents in the film industry, but today I’m preparing for a busy weekend promoting the film.
On Friday I have the WFTV awards lunch, a screening of my film as part of the Underwire Film Festival, and on Sunday night the BIFAs, for which I’m nominated for a Debut Screenplay award. I have a pile of outfits ready to go, and the usual social anxiety that accompanies me before I leap into a weekend of self-promotion. Because one of the things I’ve learnt recently is that as the writer and director of a small film, ou are as much part of what the press is all about as anything else. People want to know about who I am, how I made it, why I made it, what do I think it’s really about, and what I am going to do next. Plus, being a woman means I also have to talk about being a woman a lot. There aren’t that many of us in the film industry you see. Or rather, there are lots of us (generally awesome) but there are a lot more men. So as well as making a film, and talking about yourself, you suddenly find yourself talking about, and on behalf of, your entire gender. Taking on this challenge in addition to the battle to make films might feel like a bit too much, but luckily I’ve been through this before.
As many of you mamas will also have experienced, becoming a parent challenged my identity in ways I wasn’t expecting. I did a lot of laundry for people who weren’t me – something I didn’t think I was ever going to do, as a fierce feminist. I struggled not being the most important part of my life anymore, and then I struggled right back to make sure I stayed in my life at all. I understood that having children was’t an indulgent choice, but part of our contribution to society. And that’s what got me fighting for a more inclusive industry (and society) with Raising Films.
Through all this I never gave up wanting to make films, and I feel enormously lucky that that is something I’ve managed to do. Parenthood has taught me how valuable allies are, how we have so much in common even though everyones does it differently and how talking can make pretty much anything okay. So though this weekend is intimidating, and will take me away from my children, again, I’m just going to Mama-Up and do it as well as I can. We’re the only ones who can change this world for our children, so if we need to fight for change, then I’ll take that and run with it. The good news is that this weekend comes with gift bags. Consider this not just work, but making it work.
Happy weekends mamas, and if any of you are in London and have babysitters, please come along to the screening – or watch out for it in the spring when it’ll be hitting cinemas nationwide.
Hope Dickson Leach is an Edinburgh-based writer and director and co-founder of Raising Films. She is also the winner of the inaugural IWC Filmmaker Bursary Award in Association with the BFI.