Heather has Four Moms
Heather has Four Moms; Interview by Cesar Solla
I can only imagine what fun it must have been to discuss, joke around, and possibly feel awkward in creating this story! What was the process in developing this short film?
Writer/Producer, Rani Deighe Crowe: Jeanette and I were having coffee with a friend who was sharing stories about their family. We just looked at each other and said, “This is our next film”. We had been looking for our next project. We realized we hadn’t seen much about gay parenting or shared custody looks like in a lesbian family in media. We wanted to see that representation. We also knew we were telling a universal story about parents coming to terms with their child coming of age. It is that age where a daughter starts to push against their mother, so imagine the complications with four moms. And we knew we wanted to see it from Moms’ perspective. Especially Mom number four, who has to struggle with insight and clarity into Heather, but feels subordinate to her wife, Heather’s birth mother, when making big parental decisions.
We were shortlisted for the Kevin Spacey Foundation Emerging Artist for the project in 2016. As we were preparing to pitch it, we realized it had the potential for a TV series. That informed its development into the next draft.
Director, Jeanette L. Buck: We heard the Disney movie story and it made me ask myself -- who are these women that marched for equality -- who might have escorted women from the street to the entrance of Planned Parenthood -- who are these women that can't discuss birth control with their teenage daughter? Why is that so hard? What's the baggage there? How do we create family and parent with our primary partner, our ex and her primary partner? That's a recipe for conflict and in our case - comedy.
What added to the comedy for me were the unseen details of everyday real life, like the moms in bed with her retainer and her snore machine, yet it's those details that make the story relatable to any parent. How important was this film in sharing the queer family experience in an industry that's still lacking with queer voices?
Writer/Producer, Rani Deighe Crowe: Part of our mission in making films is to create strong female characters, provide more opportunities for women in front of and behind the camera, to increase representation of people who are often underrepresented in film and show stories we haven’t seen before.
In this film, we wanted to provide positive lesbian representation in the family comedy. It is a huge reason for making the film. We also wanted to make a film with queer representation that wasn’t about being queer.
We also wanted to see some diversity of lesbian representation even within our film. A lot of those details are intended to be comical but also to illustrate different types of intimacy. We wanted to see what intimacy looks like in these women’s relationships as they try to help their daughter learn what sex and intimacy means.
Director, Jeanette L. Buck: Representation in media is critical to self acceptance. I will never forget the first time I saw two women kiss on screen. How I could feel my heart open. Something about that moment made me ok with myself in a way that I had never been before. In our film, details like the retainer and sleep apnea machine remind us that we love in all of our imperfectness. They are funny because of their specificity and because they bring us into our own lives and are own bedrooms. I want to make movies with women about women that give women a moment of recognition. A moment of "that's me"
Instantly, what attracted me to the film was the voiceover and the comedic tone because it reminded me right away of a John Hughes film. Were there any films or directors that influenced you for this film?
Writer/Producer, Rani Deighe Crowe: One of the issues we had was determining the protagonist. We really wanted it to be Mom 4’s story, but Heather had to activate the moms. Also, trying to introduce all the moms in a 14-minute film was challenging. And Jeanette had friends who talked about their monthly calendar meeting. That’s when I found the opening of the film with the voice over and the diary. It kind of opens like a teen sex comedy, and the voice over and diary helps us shift the protagonist. So in writing it, I was looking at TV family sitcoms, teen movies like Mean Girls, The Duff, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and heist and gangster movies like Reseservoir Dogs, Goodfellas, and Trainspotting.
Director, Jeanette L. Buck: I think Rani's tone is unique. Recent films that have somewhat similar tones that I went back to rewatch are The Kids Are All Right and Grandma. I also watched the films that Rani references.