A girl wandering

Our Story

Through verité storytelling, audiences are brought into our home as we try to find personal balance in our relationship and raise thriving young children amidst the challenges of the pandemic. Our film sheds light on the historically disproportionate domestic burden placed on women, which was only exacerbated during the pandemic. We see how that responsibility impacts women’s careers in this present moment. Mary sends a message to her sister, early in our story, “I thought that I was going back to work when Carter started school, but now I’m still at home.” 

In the small, sometimes claustrophobic world of Room to Breathe, Mary’s needs and wants – her inner voice – come across through these private video messages sent to her sister. As virtual school becomes the norm, and schools shut down indefinitely, household and childcare obligations pile almost entirely onto Mary. As Producer of the film, Mary has agency over her narrative and representation, bringing a candid authenticity to her interactions with audiences. Our film has a potent message about gender roles. At times, Mary confronts Dave behind the camera: “I’m nobody’s maid. I just want more help from people around the house.” It’s a unique perspective for male viewers to experience Mary’s challenges from her husband’s point of view. Through verité, we follow Mary and Dave’s partnership as it’s tested. As Dave fails, Mary seeks to find space for her career and self. With schools closed, a mother unloads her frustration on a community call: “Our family cannot financially or psychologically keep kids at home, [even] one more month.” The principal replies, “I’m a single mother, so believe you me, I understand.” 

The intimacy of our film offers a unique glimpse into how adult-child relationships impact a child’s social-emotional development. Dave tries to connect with his daughter, Aven, as she struggles with remote learning and isolation from her 3rd grade peers. Aven has conflicts with her younger brother, too, as Dave attempts to wield the camera and parent. In response, Aven slams her door as her father approaches. 

Room to Breathe provokes questions about what it takes to meet children’s needs, and illuminates the challenges parents face to support children during a time of uncertainty, fear and heightened anxiety. As a couple, in the film we work to nurture our children and one another. Our openness and vulnerability is a reminder of what keeps families strong and helps children thrive. In the end, as our son Carter enters the school building for the first time, there’s a feeling of relief for Mary and other women like her.