WIDENING THE LENS COMPETITION Q&A with Marley Morrison

Winner of the 1st Prize Pitching Award

Marley Morrison
Director of Hazey Jane Films
From: London

  1. How do you feel to have been part of the Widening The Lens competition?

I am very humbled and honoured to be part of the shortlisted filmmakers and to have won the competition. I’ve met with the other filmmakers and connected with those that share the same vision of increasing diversity in film.

  1. What story idea did you pitch?

Baby Gravy is a short comedy set in a service station just north of Luton. It is about a lesbian couple awaiting the arrival of a sperm donor they have met online and the desperate events that occur when he doesn’t show.

  1. What inspired the theme?

Having children is the most natural thing in the world. But for same sex parents it is more like a military operation. Our natural desire as humans is to pro-create, to leave something of ourselves behind to prove we were here. The idea for this story came when I was asked how I would have children with my partner. I started looking into AI, sperm donors and the routes that same sex parents would take to start the process of raising a family. The idea for the film came out of an emotional Facebook post by a woman who had been trying to find a sperm donor for two years and was continually let down at the last minute or asked to do strange sexual favours in return for the donation. I felt the struggle and pain in her words as she tried to navigate her world whilst trying her best to live a so-called ‘normal life’. Same sex parents have just as much love to give to a child as straight parents do and this film hopes to identify the human within us all and address the lack of gay female characters on screen.

  1. How does it address diversity and the idea of challenging limitations of character and story development?

The story is about two gay women and the struggles they go through just to be ‘normal’. It challenges the audience’s views on what women want and what they are capable of. The story is written in a way that forces the audience to confront certain prejudices and find a way through them, giving us an insight into a world many know nothing about.

  1. Does your film stimulate audience debate?

The film stimulates a debate on same sex parenting. A lot of people have very strict conservative views on what a ‘family’ is and I’m here to challenge that notion. Questions will be asked about what makes a good parent and what is important for the child’s development. I hope this film encourages discussion around this subject and we can come to an agreement that love is what makes a family not genetics.

  1. How did you get into filmmaking?

I started off making seven-second comedy videos on Vine and then grime videos on my iPhone for friends and soon progressed to short films and features. I have a passion for storytelling of any kind and believe you can find a story anywhere.

  1. What’s your top tip for other new and emerging filmmakers?

Be curious. If you want to be a filmmaker you have to be interested. Be an explorer. Go places. Meet people. Do stuff. Look for beauty in the darkest places. Also, start before you are ready. If you wait for a chance or something to happen you will wait forever. Just get out there and make something, don’t wait to be given permission.

  1. What‘s your experience and thoughts regarding a lack of diversity within the film industry, both on and off screen?

Although an ever-increasing number of people are opening up to the possibility of being with a same sex partner and become more sexually liberated the stories on screen do not currently reflect that. Gay and lesbian characters are often depicted as stereotypes or filtered through heterosexual eyes and defined in heterosexual terms. So it is important that filmmaking reflects the times and embraces the multi-cultured and diverse society we live in. That means we have to make stories about gay women because guess what ‘they exist’, and not just to serve the fantasy of a heterosexual man. They have lives, hopes and dreams and deserve a platform to tell those stories.

In my experience investors are cautious about investing in what is seen as a ‘niche’ market when it comes to films by or about WOMEN, BAME or LGBT characters. Being a female writer/director I am often trying to convince white straight men to fund films that they may feel they can’t relate to.

It’s frustrating to see such incredible talent bypassed. We pride ourselves on being a diverse and liberal country but a huge percentage of the media we put out is completely biased in its representation of British people. Everyone wants to see themselves on TV and when they are either not represented at all or continuously depicted in stereotypical terms they can feel they are not a part of their own society.

The balance of diversity is evident for us all to see on screen and in numerous reports that have been conducted and I think the only way to solve this is to put a broader range of people in positions of power and as filmmakers continue to tell the stories of our communities in the most honest way possible. Only then will we make things more inclusive for future generations and prevent whitewashing of our TV screens.

  1. What are your ambitions for the film concept after the festival?

To shoot the film! With the help from the festival and the connections made I hope to be in a position to get on and make the film in January 2017.