Meet filmmaker Maya Newell
Filmmaker Maya Newell discusses her upcoming documentary ‘Gayby Baby’ with AAFFN’s Indigo Willing.
At 17, Maya completed her first feature documentary ‘Richard: The Most Interestingest person I’ve Ever Met’, which screened in festivals Worldwide. She completed a Bachelor of Media Arts and Production at University of Technology Sydney/combined University of Westminster London and a diploma in film from Sydney Film School. Recently, her short film TWO, was part of the official selection for Slamdance Film Festival and Silverdocs in the USA and was also the winner of Best New Documentary Talent in AIDC’s F4 competition, Adelaide Film Festival 2011. Maya has recently been on the programing team for Antenna Documentary Film Festival and over the past year has been making films with Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.
As the discussions around LGBTQ families around the world grow in momentum and visibility, it’s become clear that there is a voice missing from the discussion: the voice of the kids.
GAYBY BABY is a documentary aiming to create a voice for children in same-gender parented families and an opportunity to shed light on what their family means to them.
1. How far are you into your documentary project’s completion? How hard is it to get an idea to the screen?
We are about 2/3rds into our shoot, then editing, post etc… so we hope to release end of next year. I have a belief that if you have enough resilience and your ideas are fresh, getting to a screen and finding your audience is very achievable. More than ever, we live in a world where filmmakers have access to screens without big corporations and traditional distribution structures. This is a very exciting time to be telling stories.
2. What main kinds of themes are you aiming to share in it?
Gayby Baby is a film about family. It’s about what is common to all families – love, strength, resilience and problem solving. Raising kids is no easy task. Most of all it’s about being different, and feeling proud of your identity.
3. What ways might your film reflect a side of Australian life that the mainstream doesn’t always capture?
Mainstream culture doesn’t represent gay families. There is a huge scarcity of stories about families like mine. Now there are a few slipping between the cracks like on ‘Modern Family’ and in the feature film ‘The Kids are All Right’, but I hope this is just the beginning. Gayby Baby will be the first feature documentary on this topic.
4. What kinds of stories would you like to see your peers make and the industry support?
Stories with heart. That’s all.
5. What’s next for you?
After birthing Gayby Baby, which still has a while to go yet, I hope to work on many other documentaries that represent the diverse people and wonderful communities that roam this Earth. Got a few stories up my sleeve already.
Some of Maya’s perspectives on families, equal rights and the value of hearing from children of LGBTI parents were also recently captured in her questions as an audience member on ABC TV’s Qanda Q & A show, directed to a panel including politicians Penny Wong and Barnaby Joyce. The show title is ‘Happy Endings’, viewable online here.