Award-winning director Maxine Trump (no relation) is close to wrapping the important film, To Kid or Not To Kid, which aims to dispel the myth that making the decision to live childfree is weird, selfish or somehow wrong.
I recently caught up with Maxine to talk about why she is making this film, wonderful synchronicities and deeply personal moments during its production.
What inspired you to make To Kid or Not to Kid?
I was once at a panel discussion about film distribution. I’m an independent filmmaker, so a lot of the information was quite valuable. At one point the speaker asked the audience, “How many of you make films to make money?” A few hands went up. “To get critical success?” More hands. “To enable you to make more films?” Even more hands.
“You’re all wrong,” he said. “You make films because you have to.”
I know exactly what he means. When it really comes down to it, I make a film because there’s something about it that won’t let me go.
To Kid or Not To Kid started when I was making the decision to not have children and I felt society was beating me up for even considering the idea. It felt like I was “coming out,” and all I was doing was deciding that I didn’t want kids! I had to retaliate. I grabbed my camera and started filming.
Your film is the first of its kind. You’ve told me about some synchronicities you’ve experienced in making it – tell us about this!
I’ve been working on it for four years, and right now I’m deep in production. It’s been an amazing journey that’s taken me to places I would never otherwise have gone, from interviewing an author who wrote that people must have more children to developing a strong relationship with a brave young woman fighting to get sterilized.
Along the way, many messages have come to me saying this film needs to be made. I’ve connected with many writers on this subject, and feel we are spiritual kin - sympathetic members of the same team. I came across childfree groups, and was pleasantly surprised to find so many of them. It also unnerved me that people had to create these groups in order to have a place where they wouldn’t feel alienated. And when I’ve approached them, they have told me how much they want this film.
I’ve also experienced the perfect people presenting themselves. I came across a young woman fighting for sterilization who coincidentally lives only an hour from my mum’s home in Wales, UK. Only months after I picked up the camera, the very first summit for women who don’t have children began. I got so many incredible women on camera telling me their reasons why they can’t, or why they’re not, having children, all in one place. That is filmmaking gold.
When I was trying to find a large family to interview, I was having dinner with my cousin-in-laws, and it turns out that they live next door to a family of seventeen. I started filming with them the very next day. The day I filmed my sister, a preacher, she did not know the subject of my documentary, yet her sermon just happened to be about why people have children.
Many times messages of encouragement have come when I’m exhausted from fighting to get the film made, stressed about funding, or just plain worn out. I feel emotional support coming through all of these synchronicities.
What has been one of the deeply personal moments in making the film?
As this is such a personal film, I’ve had to have complex emotional conversations with the people I love the most — all while the camera is rolling. My mum has done her best to understand my decision, but she is clearly still upset by it. After I started production, she suffered a serious stroke, which impacted her both physically and emotionally. She was having quite a difficult recovery when I interviewed her for my film.
I couldn’t have picked a worse time for the interview, but knew I had to do it. It was one of the hardest interviews I’ve ever filmed. I was simultaneously confronting the idea that my mum was different from who I thought she had been, trying to make her understand why I was making my decision, and making sure that the camera and sound equipment were working properly. I had to be three people at once: daughter, independent woman, and director. It’s no wonder there’s a part of this interview where I can’t hold back the tears. Along with the personal emotions, I was flooded with a sense that the timing for this film was exactly right.
When this feeling comes over me, it keeps me going. I am making this film because I know the time is right, because there’s a voice that is still fighting to be heard, and because I’m tired of being made to feel weird, selfish, or somehow wrong.
I am making this film because I have to.
Maxine is running a Kickstarter campaign right now, and as of 4/14/17, needs only $960 more to raise needed funds to get the film completed. The Kickstarter campaign also offers cool pledge awards for those who support its completion.
Learn more about To Kid or Not to Kid Here.
If you believe in reproductive justice and full reproductive choice, this is a film you’ll want to see and share. I invite you to join me in helping this film be seen!