Meet Later Mom Filmmakers of Pushing Motherhood: Sybil Azur and Linda Cevallos-French

pushingmotherhoodgraphicWhile I have yet to watch the new (81 minute) feature film documentary from Tempo Entertainment, Pushing Motherhood (now on Vimeo on Demand), it certainly sounds compelling, and I wanted to share a Q&A with the two filmmaker later moms.  It tells the true story of best friends embarking on late-in-life motherhood, and offers commentary from experts, and sharing by other later moms.

The film looks to answer why they and a growing number of women have pushed motherhood, and examines the costs and benefits of deferring motherhood into what medical professionals call “advanced maternal age.”

Their stories are reinforced by the interviews of 23 other women with diverse narratives; singles and marrieds; those who always wanted and those who never wanted to be mothers; same sex partners on opposite sides of 35; those who got pregnant easily and those who are still struggling; those who have adopted, used surrogates, or employed reproductive technology; and those who are child free due to ambivalence, circumstance, or choice.

The documentary also explores some of the many options available to women today, including assisted reproductive technology, adoption, acupuncture and holistic medicine, gestational carriers, egg freezing, and egg donation.

Click HERE to view the trailer.

pushingmotherhoodposterWhat was your inspiration and point of view when you first started developing and collaborating on PUSHING MOTHERHOOD? What was your motivation to make the film, and how did it evolve?  The idea for Pushing Motherhood was born on a November evening in 2010. We were discussing the fact that many of our friends were struggling with infertility after deferring motherhood into their 30’s and 40’s. Their experiences covered the gamut of possible scenarios. Some had had multiple miscarriages; some chose to use surrogates; some were on the road to adoption; some had spent thousands of dollars and had gone into debt after multiple rounds of in vitro fertilization; others were lucky enough to get pregnant on their first try.

Why had everyone pushed their fertility to the edge and waited so long to become mothers? Was it our careers? Was it because many of us hadn’t found the right partners until later in life? Was it because divorce had forced us to start over again? Why had motherhood been at the bottom of the priority list for so many of us?  We wanted to answer those questions, so we decided to investigate by asking our peers (with cameras in tow) to see if we could find some answers.

What would you like the audience to ‘take away’ from the film? What is the most important message in this film to you?  While making the film, we realized that we were largely clueless about the realities of a woman’s fertility. We knew the basics of course, but in interviewing the experts, we discovered that there are a lot of important choices one can make when trying to build a family.

Even more, the 23 other women that we interviewed not only shared their stories with us, but also opened their hearts in ways that many had never done before. Trying to have a baby is a deeply personal and emotional journey, and this is a conversation that needs to come out from behind closed doors. Through telling our own stories, we hope to encourage viewers to talk to one another about their struggles and successes, and take control of their reproductive lives sooner rather than later. Knowledge is power!

pushingmotherhoodproductionWhat was your biggest challenge in developing or producing this project?  Our biggest challenge in development and production was that we were documenting our own journeys while simultaneously gathering information about fertility along the way. Often times it was difficult not to become discouraged or anxious about our own chances of becoming pregnant. We really had to look to our husbands and each other to keep moving forward both for the sake of our families and the film.

Secondly, because we were filming as events unfolded, we didn’t know how or when the story would end. As first-time filmmakers, we really had to trust our instincts and the people around us, and have faith that the film would organically find its way to a conclusion. We’re so happy that we were patient with ourselves and with the process, because it undoubtedly did.

When did you meet your collaborators? How did those partnerships come about?  The two of us met while playing dancing ghosts in a music video for a boy band called “The Guys Next Door.” Sybil was still in high school and Linda had just graduated from the California Institute of the Arts. A few years later, we really connected while dancing on tour with Reba McEntire. By the end of the tour we had become best friends, and nearly 20y years later, we’re still going strong.

Pushing Motherhood marks the first time we’ve worked together as producing partners. Linda and her husband Brian had already formed their production company, Tempo Entertainment, and had experience producing various projects when the idea for this documentary came about.
Linda and Brian met while on the road with Smokey Robinson (Brian is production manager, Linda was a dancer), and Brian generously and patiently shared his time, knowledge, and skills with us every step of the way.

Inevitably there were bumps in the road, but we worked hard to ensure that our friendship survived the stresses of producing a film. We had to learn how to recognize our weakness, highlight our strengths, and communicate effectively and respectfully in order to secure our partnership. Ultimately, our deep bond as friends is what brought the project to life.

With Dr. Mark Surrey

With Dr. Mark Surrey

What made this project come together and be successful?  The completion and success of the film has truly been a serendipitous event. From the beginning, we’ve recognized that this documentary isn’t about us. Yes we are the protagonists, but our objective has always been to inform and empower as many women as we can reach. We believe that because of that, this project has found its way to everything it needed to become a reality.

We have been extremely blessed to have a wealth of talented and generous people donate their time, money, and talent to make this project come together; without hesitation, well-known musicians like Gary Gold, Billy Alexander, and Lindsay Walker lent their music for the score; world renowned experts, authors, and journalists cleared their schedules and made their resources available to us; award-winning documentarian David Leaf offered constructive criticism and advice; friends reached out to their friends to spread the word and expand our network; and 337 Kickstarter backers including Smokey Robinson, Reba McEntire and a wealth of our loved ones and beyond donated $51,223 to help us realize this dream. It has truly been a grassroots effort every step of the way.

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