Back to IndieWire

Guest Post: Why Make Babies When You Can Just Make Documentaries?

Guest Post: Why Make Babies When You Can Just Make Documentaries?

Being a woman, I was told since I was a teenager, “just wait, it’ll hit you – you’ll suddenly be overcome by the rash, ridiculous desire to have kids.” This was presented as a certainty. No matter how much you resist, you are destined to do your part to keep the species going. In my case I had decided sometime around high school that I wasn’t about to get sucked into all that “leaving a legacy” crap. And in spite of the fact that I knew that cleaning up green gooey diapers and going to all that trouble just to end up with some teenager screaming “I HATE YOU!!!” was definitely not worth it, I waited to be overwhelmed by nature’s pull. Through my twenties and thirties I waited for the “feeling,” all the while smoking and drinking and doing my part to ensure my eggs were well and cooked.


And then it suddenly hit me just as I was about to turn forty. I was overcome with the desire to produce the fruit of something, just not from my loins. My first-born was a funny little film about a funny little school that teaches dog grooming in New York City. I was in love.

Then, like the classic sleep-deprived new mom – before I had even recovered – I made up my mind to do it all over again. Three years later, I bore a feature-length baby about a close-knit community on the Chesapeake Bay with the unique distinction of hosting the world championships of muskrat skinning.

My latest has been hard labor. After six long, painful years, multiple delays, cancer and a couple of deaths, I managed to deliver a feature-length film about the redevelopment of Coney Island. As proud as I am, this one almost killed me. Literally. Someone definitely needs to invent a director’s epidural, because red wine and the occasional stolen Vicodin can only help so much.

Oh, I thought I was SO clever popping out films all these years instead of babies; I had such a good plan and the perfect excuse for not ever trying to squeeze a head out of my lady parts. But offspring are offspring, and the end results are the same. My body has definitely not been spared. I could certainly use a tummy tuck, my sex life has suffered from being exhausted all the time, and as soon as I pay for my premiere, I’m saving up for full body Botox. Add to that: I have probably spent the same amount of money as it costs to send three humans through college (Ivy League of course)…plus a couple of years of medical school and half a law degree.

On the other hand, just like children, the projects never leave you. Each one of them makes me beam with pride. My maternal instinct kicks in over color correction and story arc. I’ve stayed up many, many nights worrying and fretting about them. They completely change your life and change how you look at everything.  And even though they drive you absolutely mental, you still want what’s best for them when they go out into the world on their own.

ZIPPER will premiere at DOC NYC on Saturday, November 10th at the SVA Theater, 333 W. 23rd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues at 9:30pm.  A second screening will be on Thursday, November 15th at the IFC Center, 323 6th Avenue at 3:00pm.


Producer/Director Amy Nicholson directed her first non-fiction film in the fall of 2002. BEAUTY SCHOOL, a wry portrait of the New York School of Dog Grooming, premiered at Hot Docs and aired on PBS and the Documentary Channel. It also appeared on Virgin Atlantic’s in-flight entertainment. Amy’s first feature-length documentary, MUSKRAT LOVELY, premiered at The Hamptons and went on to screen at SilverDocs, the Florida Film Festival, and Brooklyn International among others. MUSKRAT LOVELY was broadcast nationally on the 2007 season of Independent Lens. Amy has also directed several commercial projects and consults as an advertising creative director. ZIPPER is her third film.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Features and tagged , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox