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LAFF 2015 Women Directors: Meet Daphne McWilliams – ‘In a Perfect World…’

LAFF 2015 Women Directors: Meet Daphne McWilliams - 'In a Perfect World...'

Daphne McWilliams began her producing career by producing music videos for artists such as Blues Traveler, Notorious BIG and Queen Latifah. In 1995, she was hired to line produce the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Four Little Girls,” directed by Spike Lee and produced/edited by Sam Pollard. Pollard is the Executive Producer on “In a Perfect World…” which is Daphne’s documentary directorial debut. (Press materials) 

“In a Perfect World…” will premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 14.

W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.

DM: “In a Perfect World…” is a fascinating exploration of men who have been raised by single mothers and how it impacts their lives and future decisions. I grew up in a “traditional” home with a loving mother, father and siblings, yet nothing prepared me for the challenges I would face having to raise my own son Chase, from the age of two, largely without participation from his father. Inspired by my own experiences, I set out to document an examination of my son’s maturation process, as well as present a sociological overview of what it is like to be a man raised solely by one’s mother.

Compelling and moving, these deeply personal stories are told by a variety of men from diverse backgrounds and ages as they share painful anecdotes of their past, as well as an intimate look into their current lives. Despite the emotionally turbulent and unsettling periods of their youth, we see the exceptional men they have become.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

DM: It’s my story, and I have many friends who are also raising sons on their own. As our children grew older, our conversations changed from how the kids are doing in school and sports to the challenges of dealing with their mood changes and puberty. As a mother, I began to wonder if things would have been easier if his father was still in our home.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

DM: When I originally started making the film, I had no intention of including my own story and my son. Once the film became personal, I couldn’t help questioning this decision and lost many nights of sleep. Handing over very personal and intimate stories put me, my son and our family in a very vulnerable position.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theatre?

DM: The best way I can answer this is by sharing what I felt after I watched the completed film — that men have a voice and can be just as vulnerable as women. As for boys growing up in a home where the father isn’t present or taking an active role in the child’s life — no judgment here — I think those boys benefit from having a male role model or mentor in their lives during their adolescence.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

DM: Set up a support team that is separate from the crew. I had a mentor, who is a fellow filmmaker, an advocate who kept me on task and encouraged me during the difficult process of making the film.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

DM: I funded the film myself, and I wouldn’t advise anyone to do this. I ran a small crowd-funding campaign that was successful, but which ended up being harder than the production itself.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

DM: I don’t have a “favorite,” as there are so many films I like that are directed by women. One filmmaker whose work I look forward to seeing more of is Dee Rees, who directed “Pariah” and “Bessie.” Her work is meticulous, [thoughtful] and moving. One of my favorites from a more seasoned veteran director is Nancy Meyers’ “Something’s Gotta Give.” I like her female characters.

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