The last two years have been the most challenging yet the most rewarding of my career, writes Lauren Pushkin, a Producer Director and Editor in the Media Parents Talent section.
After having my son Jacob in 2010 I came up with an idea for a TV series about what it was truly like to become a parent. I felt there was nothing really out there that looked at expectations vs reality and wanted the story to be told. With fellow PD, and fellow mum, Melissa Cortizo we decided to take all of the experience we had gained over the years in the industry to develop our own series. And so we invested a lot of time, money and passion into our project: ‘Becoming Mum’. In fact that’s a story in itself that’s on the Media Parents blog.
After a year of development we cut together a taster tape which we were really proud of. Then we found the brilliant Executive Producer Gaby Koppel on Media Parents who would help us get it commissioned. Gaby fell in love with our concept and together we took it around to the broadcasters. We managed to meet with C4, BBC3, ITV, C5 and Sky, all who were very enthusiastic and wowed by the project. We ended up with two very different offers on the table and we decided to go with Sky who commissioned a 6 x 1hour series called ‘Becoming Mum and Dad’. (WT)
That’s when the fun really began! Melissa and I became co-producers in the series and joined forces with Spun Gold TV who I had worked with in the past. We spent the next few months driving up and down the country searching high and low for contributors. We would shoot potential contributors, edit casting tapes, attend baby groups and pre-natal classes, or stand in the freezing cold outside hospitals to find the perfect contributor. All the time we were casting we were also co-producing, putting together the rest of our team, looking for deals on equipment, testing cameras, helping with schedules. And of course somewhere in between we were parents and wives too!
We lost a few contributors along the way, mainly because their babies came earlier than expected, but I ended up with two lovely couples. One couple were based in the bright lights of Brighton and the other, closer to home, in Windsor. These couples I have been filming now for one year. I have filmed the birth of their babies, seen them struggle with sleep deprivation, anxiety, stress, lack of support, and even filmed one of these couples’ relationships reach breaking point. On the other hand I have also captured the most amazing joy and wonder, that only a new baby could bring. Because of the subject matter of our series, we were plunged into a sensitive and hormonal environment. The challenge I most enjoyed as a PD was that we had to adapt. Especially in the early months, we couldn’t just go in each day and know what we were filming, however much we planned, because stories were developing before our very eyes. Whether that be problems and feelings of failure from not being able to breastfeed, illness developing with baby or mum, or relationship breakdowns because life had changed so much. One of my contributors even ended up giving up her dog who she had raised and loved from a puppy. He made her anxious when near the baby. I loved shooting this series because both my couples welcomed me into their lives, they opened up to me and were honest and true. And aside of being a PD who was always trying to capture great stories, great scenes and great synch, I hope I was a support to my contributors too just by being there and experiencing everything with them.
As I have been an editor for 12 years I progressed to the edit. At the moment I am just finishing the 5th episode with the exec. It is lovely seeing it all come together. The tone and style of the series has changed along the way, and ideas have both faded and evolved throughout the long shooting and editing period. For me this has been a great learning curve. And like our contributors I have had to grapple with expectations Vs reality. My baby was my idea, and I have had to watch it take on its own shape and form along the way. It is not the series I set out to make, but it has a certain charm, and I have been there from the beginning to the end and I am excited to see it when it is broadcast in early 2014 on Sky.
After two long years, I am finishing the series this week and looking forward to getting my teeth into new and exciting projects whether that be as producer/director, editor or both.
To read the first part of our adventure click here: http://blog.mediaparents.co.uk/2011/07/5-minutes-with-lauren-pushkin-director-editor/