Interview with the filmmakers of the new film- 40 Weeks

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Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life and for many is full of questions, excitement, challenges, joy, and profound learning. A lot of the images and stories that shape our views of pregnancy and birth don’t paint the best picture of what to expect and often make mothers afraid of the journey. We were excited to learn about the new film 40 Weeks and caught up with the filmmakers to learn more about their own birth experience and what it was like working with the women and families in the making of their new film. 

What inspired you to set out and create a film about the pregnancy journey? 

Christopher Henze: I watched my wife go through pregnancy and was in awe of the process, after hearing about her needs for filmed content came up with the idea for 40 Weeks. I see the movie as an opportunity to give something back to my wife and all women for what they go through so that we can all have children. I also hope the movie will help women through their pregnancies by sharing the community and information I filmed.

Dominique Debroux: For me it came from need, as I think most of mom centric businesses come from. I was pregnant with our daughter when I was 42 and all my friends had already had babies years earlier or were not going to have them. So I did not have any friends to live through the experience with. Then I was also morning sick 24/7 up to at least week 14 and reading was a real chore, yet I really wanted to know as much information about the changes that I was going through. I complained a lot to Christopher who is a filmmaker. He found me some scientific programs to watch but nothing filled the community need. A year after our daughter was born he “conceived” the idea of the film and in a short time had the whole plan for how to shoot it created. I saw the opportunity for us to then create a web portal for all pregnancy information to be fulfilled in high quality video format told from real families experiences and Big Belli was created. Watching women authentically talk about their experiences is the closest thing to actual face-to-face community and mixing this with expert info is our goal.

How did you choose the families involved?

DD: We looked for as many varied racial, cultural and idealistic backgrounds we could find to mirror the melting pot that the USA is.

CH: I looked for an openness of spirit and a willingness to talk honestly about what they where going through.

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Many films or media in general perpetuate the idea that pregnancy is challenging and uncomfortable- rather than owning it as a really transformative time in one’s life- how important was it for you all to depict pregnancy in a different light?

DD: We wanted to show pregnancy as authentically as we could, yes there are challenges at times, some minor and some major, however the key to pregnancy is the inspiring journey of how deeply you can love another being and how you are willing to put them first right away.

CH: For me I resisted the guidance that was given to me by some to find the “dramatic” challenge or incidents. I felt from the beginning that my job was to let the journey be what it was and that would be enough. Yes pregnancy has the elements of challenge and discomfort but those facets join many others that make up this most transformative time. As a director, I knew my job was to capture and show as many facets as I could and in my dedication to women and pregnancy I worked to bring to the screen as much as I could.

What was one common thread that wove all of the families together? 

DD: The desire to be the best parents they could be.

CH: My observations of Pregnancy showed me that it is absolutely individual and completely universal at the same time. The desire to bring a new human into the world under the best possible circumstances, whatever they may be, is one profound common thread. I wonder if we contemplate the love and hope that surrounds each baby that joins the human race, could humans find peace easier? Find ways to help our mother planet to support life better? Lofty concepts in one sense but from what I’ve seen and filmed I’m moved to wonder.

How do you hope viewers receive this film?

CH: I hope they learn something, find someone they can identify with and feel more connected to the greater world of women, mothers and pregnancy. Oh, and I hope they like it.

DD: We hope that women feel supported by the communal aspect of these collection of stories and are inspired to educate themselves to help them have the healthiest pregnancies possible.

Dominique Debroux, Kelly Rutherford, Gaia Henze, Christoper Henze - photo credit- Peter Doyle

Dominique Debroux, Kelly Rutherford, Gaia Henze, Christoper Henze – photo credit- Peter Doyle

 What is the larger statement you want to make about 40 Weeks?

DD: Women are naturally made to handle pregnancy. They need to be supported to believe in themselves and listen to their instincts while motivated to educate themselves in all aspects of the process. I believe that in this way we can help women to have the best and healthiest outcomes for them and their babies.

CH: I hope women watching the movie will understand that while pregnancy is a roller coaster of things to consider, generally speaking they are incredibly well suited to make and deliver healthy babies and they’ll make it through.

Can you tell us a little about your own 40 week journey?

DD: We had a long 5 year journey full of losses to even get pregnant and thought that it was just not going to happen.  We finally started down the road towards adoption and then found a doctor that discovered a relatively minor problem and our daughter was conceived. Other then the 24/7 morning sickness up to week 14 or so the pregnancy was physically great, I was even in a yoga class on my due date. Until I was holding my daughter in my arms through I could not let go of the worry that something was going to go wrong, and I was so utterly in love with her from the first heartbeat, I could not fathom anything going wrong.

CH: I watch my wife transform each week, find a love for our child and gracefully transform into a mother. I guess it inspired me to make this movie.

What inspired you to launch the Big Belli content platform?

DD: There is only so much information and so many family stories that you can fit into a film. What I needed when I was pregnant was easily digestible information about every possible part of pregnancy that gave me a sense of being part of a community at the same time. The web platform was the natural extension of the film.

 CH: We also were not finding the balanced support from the traditional film industry and felt that because of the way technology has developed the opportunity existed to bring 40 Weeks to the world in a different way. Big Belli is the center of this effort.

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Get your tickets to a screening near you. Check out 40 Weeks!

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