The HBO premiere of The Kids Grow Up is only days away and the dvd release is just over a month away. And, while we’ve had months and months to prepare for both, it’s still kind of a stunning prospect.
Between the film festival circuit and our theatrical release, the film has been screening in front of enthusiastic audiences for over a year-and-a-half now. So it’s exceedingly strange to think that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface in terms of numbers of people who will ultimately see it.
The temptation at such a moment is to call undue attention to myself, and to boost my ever-so-brilliant career as a filmmaker. And I don’t mean to discourage anyone, feel free to say nice things. But gradually over the past year, I’ve come around to pushing a considerably different agenda. Let me go back a bit to explain.
When you tell a personal story, particularly one about your family, it’s important to place it in some kind of larger social context. During the films’ making, the one that emerged was the sharp contrast in fatherhood styles and attitudes between my old-school authoritarian father and me, and then between me and my step-son Josh (who’s about to take yet another year off to be a stay-at-home dad – something I could never imagine doing). It’s a vivid illustration of just how much more involved and emotionally engaged dads are in the lives of their children these days, and the greater balance we’re trying to find between the workplace and home. There’s been a huge cultural shift over the past few generations.
In preparing to do our theatrical release last fall with very little in the way of a traditional marketing budget, we decided to focus much of our outreach efforts on gaining the support of the growing legions of “mommy bloggers” and their readers. In the course of researching and identifying the best and most influential, we also discovered a small but growing cadre of “daddy bloggers”.
The Modern Media Man Summit last fall was pretty much of a disaster, but it was eye-opening in terms of meeting men who are determined to change perceptions of modern-day fatherhood. Among those that impressed me most were the dynamic Roland Warren, President of the National Fatherhood Initiative, and Doug French, a terrific and well-connected blogger who’s spearheading the Dad 2.0 Summit (which will surely be the galvanizing conference for dads and dad bloggers that M3 only dreamed of being).
I forget who coined the phrase “It’s not a movie, it’s a movement.” In our case that’s probably overstating things a bit, but after M3 I began to feel the film could play a role, and maybe a significant role, in changing public perceptions, as well. When HBO agreed to premiere The Kids Grow Up on Father’s Day, it gave us the perfect opportunity to steer the conversation away from my particular parenting story to this larger story that’s playing out in the culture.
With Doug and Roland joining the uber-talented blogger Catherine Connors and me at our wonderful HBO screening and ‘Dad 2.0′ panel the other night, it felt like the culmination of a long and concerted effort. And, in terms of using the broadcast as a launchpad for thoughtful discussion, hopefully a new beginning, too.
On the eve of the television premiere, it’s nice to think that parents — and especially time-challenged parents of young kids — who would no way in hell pay babysitter money on top of ticket prices to see a documentary in a theater, can now see The Kids Grow Up in the comfort of their chaotic homes. I like to imagine them watching sprawled on the floor, reduced to fetal position just thinking about their little tykes growing up and leaving the nest.
I also like to think there will be plenty of mom and dad bloggers out there watching. My hope is that they won’t so much review the film as use it as a springboard for their own thoughts and ideas about the new, involved, emotionally-engaged Dad 2.0.
I, for one, can’t wait to read what they have to say.
In advance of our HBO premiere on Fathers Day (June 19), HBO is hosting a NYC invitation-only screening of The Kids Grow Up for bloggers and press, complete with wine reception and Dad 2.0 panel, on Tuesday, June 14, starting at 6pm. The panel features Roland Warren, President of the National Fatherhood Initiative, and acclaimed parent bloggers Doug French (Laid Off Dad) and Catherine Conners (Her Bad Mother). It will expand on the changing notions of fatherhood explored in the film, and explain more about the exciting Dad 2.0 movement.
If you and a guest are interested in attending, send us an email and we’ll follow up with an official invite and details: info (at) thekidsgrowup (dot) com. If you’re interested in writing about The Kids Grow Up and can’t make the screening, email us and HBO will get a dvd screener to you a week or two before the broadcast.
For those who don’t get HBO, the dvd, with 45-minutes of great bonus material, will be available from New Video starting July 19. You can pre-order it now.
Screenings galore from Honolulu to Helsinki.
Unexpectedly coming aboard a new doc as Executive Producer.
It wins the Best Director prize for U.S. documentaries at Sundance.
It’s enough to make a boy feel, well… resurrected!
With the Sat night world premiere screening of The Kids Grow Up looming, and the whole production team heading off for the airport in a few hours, we’re buzzing around doing all the usual things we’ve left for the very last minute. Updating the 3-minute trailer was the most important, since the previous version ended with temp music that wasn’t exactly the right tone (a bit too melodramatic). Not to mention, not exactly licensed. Now it’s entirely scored by our hugely talented composer, H. Scott Salinas, and has the right bittersweet feel.
Anyway, posters and postcards – check. International replacement cell phone – check. An email announcement to attending IDFA buyers and press – check. An itinerary to make sense of all the screenings and meetings and parties – check. Ambien for the red-eye flight over – check!!!
We had a private screening on Monday for a small group of distributors, industry folk and friends at Soho House and the audience reaction was all I could have possibly hoped for. It’s clear this is a film that works better on a big screen with an audience, so I’m a bit calmer heading into IDFA than I would have been. But we’ll see.
I have my Flip video camera with me, and I’ll try to post a couple of Flip Clips during the festival if I can find the time and wherewithal. And I’ll definitely post about how things are going. And now, fingers crossed…
THE KIDS GROW UP will have its’ world premiere next month at IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam), the largest and most prestigious of all documentary festivals. It’s playing in the Reflecting Images: Masters section, along with new or recent docs by, well, there’s no other term, masters such as D.A. Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus, Frederick Wiseman, Michael Moore, Joe Berlinger, Susan Froemke, Julien Temple and Michael Winterbottom. So it’s quite an honor and my hat size has swelled accordingly.
Hard to believe but tomorrow is the final layback of mixed soundtrack to color corrected picture and then… The Kids Grow Up is done. It’s a bittersweet moment.
I’ve been living with this film, in one form or another, for over 20 years. Or, to be more precise, from the moment my daughter Lucy was born. Not that I knew right away she would someday be the subject of a film. But because as I continued to tape with her over the years, and really only a little at a time, I began to suspect there was the makings of a film there.