"Over the past 5 or 6 years, we've had pretty intense debate about marriage equality in Australia. Politicians and public figures have been yelling across tables about who's allowed to marry," says Maya Newell, director of the documentary Gayby Baby. "But there's been a voice missing. I'm a child of same-sex parents. And I don't feel as though my perspective has been represented."
In 2011, Maya decided that it was time to make this voice heard. A couple of years before, she had graduated from the University of Technology, where she studied media arts and production and communications alongside producer Charlotte Mars.
The duo spent five years making Gayby Baby. It world premiered last year at Canada's prestigious Hot Docs Festival in April, appeared at New Zealand's Documentary Edge Film Festival in May and sold out four sessions at the Sydney Film Festival in June. Gayby Baby portrays four Australian children on the brink of adolescence, all of whom have gay parents, and all of whom are facing the trials and tribulations of growing up - from choosing high schools to contemplating religion.
"People have said some horrific things about children of gay families - things like, 'they'll be damaged' and 'boys need a father'," Maya says. "With this film, we wanted to give the children a voice and create an opportunity for people to watch the kids and decide for themselves."
Maya found inspiration in filmmakers like Lee Hirsch, whose documentary Bully tackled bullying in American high schools, and Nanette Burstein, director of American Teen.
When it came to financing, she had to get smart. "We were first time filmmakers, so no one knew who we were, which meant getting funding would be difficult. So Charlotte and I ran a large crowd funding campaign. We raised more than $100,000, literally made up of donations from families and individuals from around the world chucking in $10 each. We had over 1,500 supporters. That was our first splash of cash, and from there, Screen Australia and other philanthropic funds took note."
Gayby Baby was released in Australian cinemas in September last year. Maya hopes to screen the film in at least 500 schools around the country simultaneously. She is also creating education resources for teachers to assist them in both teaching the film and discussing LBGTI families across the curriculum. "For me personally, part of the impetus for making the film was to create social change. I hope to make schools in Australia more open, inclusive, safer places for children from LBGTI families."
Find out where you can see the film: www.thegaybyproject.com
This information is current as at 17/08/2015.