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Interview with Meema Spadola, Director of Our House:  A Very Real Documentary about Kids of Gay and Lesbian Parents.

With summer coming up, documentary film fans and supporters should be sure to take advantage of the independent films being shown on PBS.  One of the films that willl be shown this summer is Our House.   This film follows the lives of children of gay and lesbian parents. The documentary profiles sixteen sons and daughters—between the ages of four and twenty-three—in five families who are facing the usual highs and lows of growing up.   This documentary is thought to be the first to profile the lives of children of gay and lesbian parents, that is being presented to a national audience.  This film will be shown in June.  Documentary Films .Net had the opportunity to ask the filmmaker a few questions about her documentary.

(Documentary Films .Net) How does Our House differ from My Mother's Secret, the short video documentary that dealt with the same subject? 

(Meema Spadola, Director of Our House) MY MOTHER'S SECRET was a short, very autobiographical doc about kids of lesbian moms who had come out after a marriage. OUR HOUSE is much less "personal"  (if that's possible to make a doc that's not personal), and features a much more diverse mix of families-- kids who were adopted, conceived of through donor insemination, or whose parents divorced and then came out.

(DFN) Did you early on in the creation of the Our House, make the decision that you wanted it to be exposed to a wide audience, beyond just film festivals?  

(MS) I had always hoped to produce OUR HOUSE for a television audience, rather than screen it only in the fairly limited venue of festivals. I'd love for kids of gay and lesbian parents around the country to be able to turn on the TV and see some part of their lives reflected in this documentary. ITVS (Independent Television Service) has a mandate to fund programs that address the needs of underserved audiences, so it was a perfect fit for this project.

(DFN) You have done documentaries that have dealt with less than conventional topics, such as "Breasts: A Documentary".  When people ask about your films, how do people's reaction differ to Our House in comparison to your previous film?

(MS) I've been lucky to work on documentaries like BREASTS, PRIVATE DICKS and OUR HOUSE, that seem to attract attention and interest. Certainly, OUR HOUSE doesn't have that sexy factor of our two previous programs. (I produced BREASTS and PRIVATE DICKS with Thom Powers, my partner here at Sugar Pictures.)

(DFN) It seems that nothing is more controversial to the Christian Right then the idea that Gays and Lesbians are parents.  In the process of filmmaking, how often have you experienced this type of view? 

(MS) There's very little understanding of the lives of children of gay and lesbian parents, and there's a lot of judgemental attitudes out there. That's what creates problems for these kids-- there's nothing inherently problematic about having gay or lesbian parents. I think that people who watch OUR HOUSE will see five very normal families, who are facing the same ups and downs of being a family, along with dealing with the extra pressure of homophobia.

(DFN) In what ways does it help when a director comes to a project with a personal connection and experience with the subject matter?  Have any of the subjects seen the film, and if so, what is their reaction?

(MS) All of the families in OUR HOUSE have seen the film and their responses were very positive. I worked very hard to find families who understood why I wanted to make this documentary, and were willing to be open and honest during the process.

(DFN) One of the most frequently asked questions that we receive at our web site is, "Do I need to go to film school to be a filmmaker?" Did you have any formal training in filmmaking, and do you feel film schools and filmmaking seminars/camps are beneficial? 

(MS) I'm not the product of film school. I learned through working with people-- I've been working in the documentary world since I was eighteen. And I continue to learn from my colleagues-- co-producers, directors of photography, editors-- this is a very collaborative process for me.

(DFN) Finally, what projects will be next for you?

(MS) I'm now producing (with Thom Powers) a documentary about gun violence. We filmed at the Million Mom March, at the NRA convention. We're working at showing the stories behind the current debate.

OUR HOUSE: A VERY REAL DOCUMENTARY ABOUT KIDS OF GAY AND LESBIAN PARENTS will premiere on PBS in June, 2000. OUR HOUSE was produced and directed by Meema Spadola with production funding from the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and the Soros Documentary Fund of the Open Society Institute. To find out the broadcast date in your area, check out; call your local PBS station; or check local listings in June. To purchase a copy of OUR HOUSE, contact The Cinema Guild: 1-800-723-5522;; or check: