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2015, 111m, documentary
40 Weeks is the first unscripted documentary film to offer an intimate window into the week-by-week journey of pregnant women across the country. 40 Weeks explores the emotional and physical changes through pregnancy, the hopes and fears and the confusing and often difficult choices that can be presented during this time.
10 questions with 40 Weeks director, Christopher Henze at the half-way mark.
Sunday, August 21st, 2016
1Hi Christopher! Thanks for being a part of our 2016 Summer Festival. First, what was the initial inspiration that made you want to make this film? I watched my wife go through the pregnancy of our daughter Gaia. As I observed what she went through I felt incredible gratitude towards her and then all women for what they endure to bring us all children. I wanted to give something back. 40 Weeks is my homage and post-card to the beauty and spirit I see in women. I hope they can see a bit more of who they are through my eyes.
2What was your experience going through the process of the first 40 weeks for your first child? From my perspective as a man, observing my wife go through the weekly changes that occur during pregnancy is beyond abstract. I tried to be there as best I could and help in what ever way my wife needed, but I think that the process is so intense that we both couldn't understand what was best. That's another reason I spent 6 years making this movie. Because I was there I hope to help both moms and dads understand and enjoy the process more.
3How did you choose which families to interview for your film? What exactly were you looking for? I found the families in many different ways. I worked with my friend Lisa Singer who casts reality TV. She had a couple of friends who became pregnant as we were starting. I also overheard a women talking about pre-natal vitamins in a grocery story. I approached her, to her initial alarm, "Who's this guy walking over to me with a bag of Oranges." she recalled later. Once I told her I was involved in a project about pregnancy to help other women, she was in. It was that way with all the moms, once they saw they could help other women, the became committed. I'm truly grateful to how open and available they were to the project. I think the end result shows their dedication.
4What experiences from these women surprised you most? I understood before making 40 Weeks that women have an incredible fortitude for the process of pregnancy by watching my wife go through it. The amount of fortitude and true grace from which they accomplish this miracle was beyond my comprehension and to some degree still is. I am after all, even though I worked very hard to understand, just a guy.
5Can you share any war stories from the shoot? To make the movie I conducted interviews with 20 different families about their pregnancies. I filmed 2-4 interviews a day. Almost every day. I remember thinking that I only have 100 more days to go. At once thinking, that's a lot and also that the moms I were filming also have 100 days left, plus a lot of gratitude that I'm living my dream as a filmmaker.
6When your wife was pregnant, did she have similar experiences? My wife's pregnancy was as all pregnancies unique. Her experience was a composite of pieces from the 13 different moms in the movie.
7Some scenes where very intimate and I liked how some women filmed themselves. What made you decide to go that route? By providing the personal cameras I had hoped that unexpected life could be captured. Remember that I talked to these moms about once a week and would talk to them about their self filming. With my encouragement the beautiful self shot footage started rolling in. I even encouraged them to annoy my editors by setting up the camera to film themselves watch TV. We all knew each other so they liked the idea. There are a few moments from the film that would have never been filmed unless the moms set up the camera to film themselves doing the most mundane activity. I have total gratitude for the dedication of all the participants for how motivated they were to capture moments. I also have a deep appreciation to my edit team for watching 100's of hours of people sitting on couches, making food, playing with their dog, emptying the dishwasher, etc. . .
8They say your life changes as soon as you bring a child into the world. Do you agree with that (or like to expand on that)? There is no way to explain to someone who doesn't have a child what you will feel when you do. The moms get to go through 40 weeks of changes, demanding a greater understanding that there's a major change happening. The dads, well that's a bit more abstract. I always loved seeing the dad right after he had the chance to see his child's face. That moment is understood by all fathers and what's behind his eyes a common language for us. If you're a dad you know what I'm talking about, if not, I hope that you get to know it someday. It's incredible!
9What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? I started my life as a child actor and have been on sets since I'm 4 years old. I talked to my dad when I was 10 about the roles on a set and it was then I realized I was supposed to be a director. I've been on a winding pathway ever since. Only 40 years to finish my first feature. I hope it doesn't take that long for the next one. The moment in film that most had me understand the power of a Director was actually watching Tony Scott's commercial showreel in the 70's. I wore out the betamax tape!
10What's next? My first film looks at the human condition of birth. I imagine that continuing on the pathway of looking at the human condition is where I'm heading. Nothing concrete yet, so I'm working on my friends film and doing some commercials. I'm truly a lucky person.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time. The film is about the evolution of a couple's relationship, and was shot in three different countries over the course of a decade.
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