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2 Mums and a Dad
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2 Mums and a Dad

Production Story & Stills
Jean Lizza in Conversation with director Miranda Wills
The main question of the film seems to be, what is family? Was that something that is important for you to achieve?
Definitely. In this era, family can mean so many different things. I wanted the film to raise that issue and get people thinking. It’s important to realise that less than half of Australian families consist of mum, dad and the kids. Today we have single parent families, blended families, stepfamilies, and children born through surrogacy. The advent of modern technology, including IVF, allows people who would have never had children to have them. We also have increasing numbers of lesbians and gay men having babies via sperm donors or surrogacy. In a few cases, as shown in the film, lesbians and gay men are choosing to parent together and forming new, alternative forms of family that can include two mums, a dad, and three sets of grandparents. Families like Fiona, Kellie and Darren’s are entering uncharted territory without the legal and social safety nets that conventional families automatically receive, but they do so because they desperately want to be parents, just like anyone else.
The film shows how the law isn’t up to date with these kinds of families. How are Darren and Kellie more at risk than other parents?
Kellie is not legally considered a parent. As Leanne Kelly, the family lawyer featured in the film, puts it - the law is still struggling to come to terms with these new types of family. So the risks for people creating unconventional families are huge. Kellie voices her fears in the film, like if anything ever happened to Fiona, would Darren get access and raise the baby on his own? It’s frightening to think that you could be doing the primary parenting for a child, but because it’s legally not yours, the child could be taken away.
The same concerns are true for Darren. Like Kellie, he’s not legally considered to be a parent because Marley was conceived through artificial insemination. In the film you can really feel Darren’s vulnerability and fears about Marley being taken away. Fortunately, Darren, Fiona and Kellie realise they must work through their issues for Marley’s sake. Sadly, not everyone can and some cases have gone to court.

The highly constructed nature of the situation is fascinating, because it isn’t how most people imagine having a family.
The fact that people will put themselves through such complicated arrangements to have a family shows how wanted and desired these children are. For lesbians and gay men the amount of preplanning is enormous. But the advantages for the children can also be huge, because the child can have 3 or 4 parents who adore them, plus 3 or 4 sets of grandparents.
This story could be happening anywhere, perhaps just next door. I wanted the film to normalise what may seem alien to some people, when in fact, it’s just a part of life. There may be people out there who have never known a gay or a lesbian person. Hopefully, this film will allow people to understand that it’s not an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ situation, and that having a baby is a universal story that can bring people together. If the film can do that, then I think that is a powerful thing to have achieved.

How did you go about finding these characters?
Filming 2 Mums and a DadI was aware that people were creating families in this way, especially in the gay and lesbian communities. While most lesbians want their child to know the sperm donor, few want the donor to be an active dad. I was interested in a three or four-way parenting scenario because it really revolutionises the traditional 2 parent model. I started frequenting gay and lesbian parenting groups and met Darren. I knew immediately he’d be fabulous for the film because he is so engaging and a natural storyteller. But the lesbian couple he was trying to have a baby with weren’t interested in being filmed. I met Darren again one year later when he was trying with a new couple who might be interested in being in the film. He was the convener of Gay Dads Victoria and keen to get the message out there. I met Fiona and she said yes straight away. I don’t think any of us realised what a rollercoaster ride the journey would be!
Were there a lot of trust issues involved? Did you have to build a rapport with them or where they very forth giving from the beginning?
Establishing trust is critical to making a documentary; you have to be able to strike a chord with the people you’re filming. Darren was always very keen to be involved, and my partner and I had a natural rapport with Fiona and Kellie. However, as filming progressed and tensions started to rise between the three of them, maintaining trust became more challenging. Access is one of the key issues in the film, simply because it symbolizes how much they all want this child. I had to work very hard to make sure that I was as neutral as I could be within that complicated triangle. One of the things I said from the beginning was that I wouldn’t disclose information from interviews so they could feel safe to confide in me. Fortunately, they ended up being so open with each other that by the time they saw the finished film they had already discussed those issues.
The biological urge to have a child really united Fiona and Darren at the start of the film, but it was those same passions that kept them apart later on. It was a surprise twist when Kellie became the mediator and held the whole thing together. If she hadn’t, I don’t know where they would’ve ended up. Now they’re all working together and it’s not always easy, but they want to make it work for Marley’s sake.

Opponents of these sorts of families such as religious groups talk about the lack of a father figure and how that is going to be detrimental for the child, yet studies of lesbian parent couples show that at least 80% are in favour of the child having some sort of relationship with the father, which is contrary to what most people think.
One of the reasons I wanted to make this film was to represent these sorts of families and how they work to a wider audience. Most people can relate to the joys and challenges of parenting, and I hope that allows an audience to transcend what some would see as a heterosexual/ homosexual divide. And as for the idea that children raised in these families are disadvantaged, international studies show that kids in lesbian parented families are just as well adjusted as any other kids. I think a film like this is really important for generating awareness, especially in a time of very conservative government in which only conventional nuclear families are recognised.
Darren, Fiona and Kellie
1 Darren, Fiona, Kellie and Marley

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