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Emma Lazenby
BAFTA winning 'Mother of Many' by Emma Lazenby

BAFTA winning 'Mother of Many' by Emma Lazenby

APEngine talks to Emma Lazenby on her film Mother of Many, which won Best Animated Short at the BAFTAs this year. Produced by Sally Arthur from ArthurCox, the film explores scenarios of childbirth and the vital, everyday work of midwives.

How did you get into animation and reach the point where you began to make Mother of Many?

At University (Hull) I chose a graphics degree that did animation because I really wanted to animate  – and once I started making things move I didn’t want to stop.  I have been working in the industry since I graduated in 98.  For my degree I made a film (it was about Alzheimers – I am very proud of it) and I haven’t made my own film again until now.  I have been working as an animator and designer and increasingly as a director.   I lived and worked in Scotland, then London and now Bristol – which was a great move for me.

You MoM blog appears to be a sporadic, yet very honest and open diary of production. Was it a good way of releasing all your thoughts when they started to boil over? Writing for yourself rather than anyone else?

I never wrote the blog for anyone to read – it wasn’t public at all for a long time.  I made it public for a few good friends to read but never expected it to be seen widely.  It was a good way to show myself that I was constantly moving forward.

You described your time in production as being completely submerged in the film, whilst not really knowing what it looks like. How important was it for you to stop, stand back and watch it as a film?

Now – after making this film I hope I will stand back a lot more next time.  It is really important to but I don’t feel like I got much distance from this film, it was an intense film to make.  It is only now (after a few months) that I can see it as a whole.

And you said part of being completely immersed in filmmaking is shutting yourself away from people and emails. Did it take a lot of discipline to cut yourself off?

Not really – I was just obsessed with it.

Thinking back, were the deadlines good for moving things forward or did they just cause panic?

I always thought the deadlines quite unhealthy.  But they are part of the process  and make you always keep working and moving forwards.  The panic was there but in some ways it was a constructive panic and without it – it probably would have been a different film.

Has making Mother of Many changed your perspective of pregnancy and birth, compared to growing up with your Mum working as a midwife?

Nobody ever had told me about childbirth in detail until I started to ask.  People just don’t talk about it often even though it is a giant thing to go through.  My view of it has changed – I am a lot less scared of it after looking so in-depth.  It is an amazing experience to go through and everybody does it.  It has made me look at all women with wider eyes.  I listened to and watched a lot of birth and found it overwhelmingly stunning.

Do you think series like Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute is helping to lift the mystery around one of the most natural human processes?

Yes, it is an amazing program.  It seems to show birth so realistically.   Hopefully it will put a lot of teenagers off.

Did Mother of Many ever feel different from anything else you’ve done? Did this one feel special?

This is the first time in my professional life that I have made my own film, so it felt very different and very special because I was passionate about it from the moment I had the idea and still passionate about it now.  Midwives do an amazing job every day and should  be celebrated more.  And childbirth is so unpredictable and beautiful.

How does your Mum feel about the film? When you had the idea for the film, during production and now you’ve won your BAFTA?

Mum is very modest – and to begin with I think she was a little embarrassed that I was making a film about her.  During production she was a huge help – she talked me through procedures and through birth from beginning to end.  I rang her most days at the beginning.  With the BAFTA she is just so ridiculously proud and happy.  And I am as proud as ever of what she has achieved.  She is an amazing woman.

Do you think your personal experience and how you feel about your Mother’s previous career made it all come more naturally to you whilst making the film? Do you think this personal experience shines through in the film?

Personal experience… because I haven’t experienced birth since I was born, I had to research and look at birth from the outside and constantly try to get in.  If I had had personal experience of it – it would have been a very different film I am sure.  That the film is about my mum – who has worked ridiculously hard through most of my life, who I have always been in awe of… I hope that shines through.

Was there a particular moment that your BAFTA nomination really sunk in?

A few days before I went to London the nomination sunk in and I got very giddy.  Up to that point I had been in a big disbelief.

During the whole BAFTA process, from nomination, to thinking about the speech, to pampering yourself in preparation, to accepting the award, how did it feel when you actually got a chance to contemplate what it all meant to you and the film?

The whole BAFTA experience has been so surreal and out of the world I am used to.  It has been amazing.  I still haven’t touched the floor and contemplated a great deal, but it has given me a big boost in confidence and makes me want to keep doing what I do.

So is the BAFTA in your bathroom?

Mostly – but I worry he will rust or turn green so I let him sit in the front room a bit too.

What’s next? Are you still considering the career change to midwifery?

At the moment I am making a film about radiotherapy, it is exactly what I want to be doing (though at the moment I am a little submerged). I am taking charge of my career in animation and trying to make it more worthwhile – and it is working so I will carry on. But the desire is still there for midwifery and I am considering being a doula (birthing partner) on the side.

Emma Lazenby describes her experience of making Mother of Many and how her own mother inspired her to make the film, in her insightful production blog, MoM. A trailer is also available to view online, here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 | Tagged with , , , ,

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