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Laura Scrivano knew that directing in 2020 would be tough with a toddler and a newborn, (even with her partner’s help!) but when Covid made working that much harder, she adapted, and relied on her community, and thrived in a year unlike any others.


What did your career look like last year in between a pandemic and your young children?

2020 was such a strange, difficult year. I think I’m still coming to terms with everything that has happened. In late January of last year, I found out we were pregnant with our second child. Back then, I thought the biggest challenge of the year would be adapting to filmmaking while juggling a four-year-old and a baby. I didn’t factor having to deal with a global pandemic as well! 

Let’s face it, most shoots have a lot more logistical challenges than feeding a baby!

It ended up being a year of half-starts, constantly moving plans. I feel incredibly lucky I made it onto set twice—once pregnant and once with my newborn—thanks to my wonderful producers at Missing Link Films. They made it easy for me, even with the added complications we now all face making our shoots Covid-secure. Outside of commercial work I spent much of 2020 writing a feature I’m developing and meeting for TV projects—which have nearly all pushed into 2021 due to the pandemic.


Were you afraid that your career would stall because of your decision to have children?

I distinctly remember being pregnant with our now four-year-old, and being utterly terrified my career was over. This was in 2015 and 2016 and I don’t think I’d ever seen an image of a working director with a baby or child on set; a lot of my directing heroes either didn’t have children or were quoted in interviews about making “difficult choices” between making films and raising a family. Thankfully the conversation has really shifted over the last few years and we are seeing a more honest discussion about how to support parent directors, head of departments, and crew so they don’t drop out of the industry due to raising a family. 

NHS – Better Health

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So what actually happened?

It is still somewhat incredible to me that rather than my career taking a hit, it actually blossomed after having my first child in 2016. There were a few reasons for this—as I mentioned, I lucked out with the timing as the conversation around female directors was opening up and the industry was realizing that the lack of women in the industry was often because of issues around childcare and raising a family—and the ridiculous stigma attached to that. 

I distinctly remember being pregnant with our now four-year-old, and being utterly terrified my career was over.

I also was desperate to keep working, so I moved heaven and earth to set up an environment to make that happen. In saying that, I was still very nervous about my first shoot back, which was a music video for Imelda May on location in Paris. I was nervous about having a baby around, and concerned with what the mostly male crew would think about me feeding on set. But it turned out my nerves were misplaced—having a baby on set brought the most wonderful energy to the shoot and the logistics were extremely simple. Because, let’s face it, most shoots have a lot more logistical challenges than feeding a baby!


Can you explain what Raising Films is and what they do for working parents in the UK? 

Raising Films exists to support parents and carers working in the UK screen sector by challenging the demands the sector makes on them. They provide practical support and case studies as well as advocating for change. 

We should all be advocating for diversity in hiring across the industry and working hard for that at all levels—from runner through to producer or ECD

I was so thankful to come into contact with Raising Films at a really pivotal time in my career, specifically when I was trying to get back to directing full time with a 6-month-old in tow. I was accepted into their Making it Possible mentoring scheme which was aimed at providing parents in the film industry with the tools to manage the juggle. The program was amazing and remains the single best professional development program I have done. It was incredibly targeted and understanding and gave me practical tools and (probably, more importantly,) the confidence to be upfront with producers about having a baby and being a working director!


What was the most surprising thing about working while you were breastfeeding your child?

How easy it was!

My first child was nearly 6 months when I started back directing in 2016, and I managed mostly by pumping. This time, I wanted to get back into the directing chair sooner, partly because I was missing it so much after production shut down due to the pandemic, and partly because I knew it was possible from my prior experience!

I think production companies can play a key role in helping support mental health, especially for parent filmmakers, by being open and flexible to their needs and seeing them as an asset rather than a burden. 

I won the Better Health NHS campaign when Siena was seven weeks old, and we shot it when she was nine weeks. Because she was so small I knew pumping would be tough and it would be easier for both of us if I was able to breastfeed her in front of the monitor. I was a bit nervous about how it would go but Ben and Heather from Missing Link truly had my back and were committed to making it work. For them it wasn’t even an issue, because why should it be? I could still deliver a great spot, I was just going to do it whilst having a baby in my arms.

And it ended up being so simple. My partner took Siena for naps and play, and would then just bring her to me to breastfeed. If we were on a break or between set-ups, I’d feed her in a spare room on location; but if we were in the middle of a shot I’d do it in front of the monitor whilst directing. Occasionally I was short a hand or two for the radio, (in which case Ben would relay my thoughts), but that was about the sum of the challenges.  

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How do we make film sets more welcoming for new, and specifically, for breastfeeding mothers?

I think the first step is for the industry to realize how doable it is. That it doesn’t distract from the work or slow down production. Look at how brilliantly the film industry has adopted Covid protocols, and how quick we have been to pivoting to a new way of working. If we can do that, then making small adjustments or considerations for new mothers on set is simple. 

I could still deliver a great spot, I was just going to do it whilst having a baby in my arms.

I also think we, as breastfeeding mothers, need to remember we have the right to feed our child at work and ask to be accommodated. Frankly, if men were the ones doing the feeding, this would not even be a discussion.


How can production companies prioritize the health of their employees who are parents? 

I think production companies can play a key role in helping support mental health, especially for parent filmmakers, by being open and flexible to their needs and seeing them as an asset rather than a burden. Parents are amazing problem solvers as well as being creative and empathetic workers—perfect people to have on set!

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How do we break down the stigma associated with motherhood in the film industry?

Representation is key. I’m really passionate about talking about my experiences in the hope that the next generation of women don’t have to feel the fear I felt when I was pregnant. I also think positive stories of working-filmmaker mums make it seem more possible, both for filmmakers but also for producers, broadcasters, agencies, and clients. Ultimately, we want to get to a point where it is normalized, which will only happen if we keep pushing for visibility and change.

Look at how brilliantly the film industry has adopted Covid protocols, and how quick we have been to pivoting to a new way of working. If we can do that, then making small adjustments or considerations for new mothers on set is simple. 

Do individual companies have an obligation to close the gender gap in wages and work opportunities?

I think we all have a responsibility by speaking up about it. We should all be advocating for diversity in hiring across the industry and working hard for that at all levels—from runner through to producer or ECD. And I think it’s important that companies do more than talk about these issues—I think they have to be drivers of real change if they are serious about their social responsibilities. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than performative activism so their Instagram account looks good.

It is still somewhat incredible to me that rather than my career taking a hit, it actually blossomed after having my first child in 2016. 

There are so many moms who kick ass —do you have a mom icon?

Certainly cinematographer Rachel Morrison, Raising Films co-founder Hope Dickson Leach, and director Marielle Heller (who advocated for a parent-friendly continuous day on her last feature). 

I think we could do with even more kick-ass fictional characters, who just happen to be mothers and parents. But being a child of the 90s how could I go past Sarah Connor in Terminator 2? The ultimate kick-ass mother!

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