As a mom to an active toddler, caretaker for my Vietnam veteran father-in-law, wife of a fellow creative who is in graduate school full time, and social media specialist at an international nonprofit, getting out of the house for anything not related to one of those roles can be a challenge. But my identity as a filmmaker is just as important to me as those roles, and prioritizing the space for my creative work makes me a better mother, daughter, and wife.
One of the ways I’m able to maintain a balance as a filmmaker mom is by using online tools in the production process whenever possible. This allows me to collaborate in the evenings after my 9-to-5, while still staying home as my toddler sleeps. One of the key tools in the current production of The FBI Blew Up My Ice Skates, the short animated film I’m co-directing with Lindsey Martin, has been Pinterest.
Pin. Photoshop. Animate. Chat. Repeat.
To be honest, until this year I’d never taken Pinterest seriously. I registered for it years ago, but after one or two logins I abandoned it. Figured I’d leave it to the people planning their weddings and craft enthusiasts.
It wasn’t until filmmaker Heidi Saman posted about her use of Pinterest in the planning process for her first feature length film Namour that I saw the potential of the tool. Because Saman, a Los Angeles native now based out of Philadelphia, was working with a cinematographer, production designer and costume designer on the opposite coast, Pinterest became an invaluable tool. For their production they used shared private Pinterest boards for sharing references for color palettes, locations, props and more.
In my collaboration with Lindsey Martin, we have one shared board that we decided to leave public so we could share our creative process with others. In our case, the video and images are not just references but in some instances actual images that we ended up using in the collage animation style of the piece.
My commute home from my day job is 20 minutes long. I use that time to search images for the scene we’re working on that week. That way, in the small window of time after picking up my daughter from daycare and putting her to bed I can enjoy her giggles and silliness with my full, undivided attention. For example, we redecorated a late 1970s living room to look more like an Iranian American household by swapping out small details like the wall hangings and the textiles on the furniture. I pinned images of possible house decorations and labeled them with notes, and then Lindsey used them to Photoshop the scene and add in some animation. Once a week we meet by video chat (again, once my kid is asleep), review the images, and make a list of visual elements needed for the following week. Pin. Photoshop. Animate. Chat. Repeat.
Using tools that enable a balance between your creative process and other life responsibilities is useful to all artists, but for mothers in particular I think finding ways to not give up on your creative work is essential to countering the narrative that says you have to choose between your artist life and your mom life. Yes, there are compromises in all directions that have to be made, but resources like Pinterest can help find a balance and continue to let your creativity thrive.