How To Break It To Your Parents That You’re An Indie-Work-At-Home-Parent-Filmmaker


It means you are a Stay-At-Home-Parent. But you need a babysitter sometimes (when you can afford it). You work constantly on different film projects, but don’t really get paid. You’re stressed and pulled in 2 very different directions and have to balance it all. You seem SUPER busy, but never have much to show for it without a complicated conversation. You are doing what you love, but you may not seem like you are from the outside sometimes.

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(Can you read it on my face that this kid loves to drive me crazy?)

It truly is the longest shortest time in your life and you have a love-hate relationship with that phrase. You love making movies- and marriage was a great addition to the team but also a happy distraction from your progress. Kids were inevitable, but even more distracting. The best thing you’ve literally ever done and your favorite part of your day, but –gosh darn it- they are also expensive and time/energy consuming.

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(Pre-bedtime reading snuggles are the best part of our day – @JennicaRenee Instagram)

So, its time to break it to Mom & Dad that you aren’t “settling down” in a traditional sense anytime soon and your life isn’t getting any more “stable.” You’re definitely not moving back to your hometown either. Having kids was not ‘grounding’ you, they are igniting your creative flames even more than ever before!

Here is how you do it:

  1. Use your smart phone. Take photos often and send the parents cute little messages like “This dirty kiddo loves to throw his food” and “Supergirl likes to fall asleep in the silliest of places.” Keep them informed on the Grandparent side. Start group texts with family and work hard to keep them involved. You want the Grandparents to see your Jamba Juice dates, walks in the woods as a family, slide time, and fun with drums!

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(Date with my baby- I have convinced him that vegan coconut frozen yogurt from #Locali is called ‘ice cream’ – I am an evil genius – @JennicaRenee Instagram)

  1. Ask for good vibes. Don’t tell them much about your work, just ask them for positive thoughts today for your audition or whatever you have going on. I ask my Mom for prayer for big things like casting, investor meetings, and pitches. I keep my parents involved on the parent stuff- “I need your support and unconditional love.” Keep it positive and give only important details. Details can be a pit-fall for some, they may pull you into truth-time or negative/venty/complaining talk and parental figures may hold onto those words for the rest of your career and use it as ammunition- not all parents do this, but some may. I like to stick with “Today was wonderful, I met some great people, and now I’m ready to get back to my baby boy and relax.” These are things they understand. I guess I’m saying that they are not the people you vent to, keep that to your circle of friends that understand the industry and have the same drive/passion as you. People outside of that circle (like parents) may not recognize ‘venting’ as just that, they may see it as a cry for help or something that needs fixing.

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(Juggling motherhood & work- breastfeeding my toddler in the green room before I get interviewed on “Central Valley Today” – #boobjuice then #talkshow @JennicaRenee Instagram)

  1. Rally the siblings and extended family. Make sure your siblings, step-parents, aunts & uncles, and great grandparents see that you love what you do. Tell them positive stuff they can share with your parents. Keep them excited and tell them mainly the good things. Send them photos of the kiddos and ask to see photos from them. Keeping family happy keeps family happy. They all want something positive to share with each other about you. No news is not good news with family. Make your parents proud and let your sister-in-law tell your Mom some good stuff happening in your life and career. That stuff is gold.

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(Kickin’ it on the red carpet with @BenjaminFont – @JennicaRenee Instagram)

  1. Give them the Red-Carpet treatment. When your film releases or your short film is coming to a festival near you or your friend is in a studio movie in theaters! –Take them, dress up, make a night of it, and let them be seduced by the glitz & glamour. They can’t wait to post on facebook a photo of them hugging their grown up daughter on a super fancy red-carpet. This stuff lasts for years. Take them and treat them, its not why you do it, but it is a good distraction for everyone sometimes.

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(Walking the red-carpet the day before the academy awards is a family tradition – @JennicaRenee Instagram)

  1. Be honest and tell them straight up. When they start to itch and tell you other things you could be doing or giving a slight hint of guilt about letting your kiddo watch a movie almost every single day- have them over for dinner… Tell them who you are, that you’re passionate about what you do, that parenthood is the best thing that has ever happened to you, and that this is what your family does. They already know you, just make it clear that you aren’t looking for a way out. They want what is best for you, tell them that this makes your family very happy. Making them wonder isn’t fair. MITB 4-8

(Snuggle Snoozer in the #Ergo – @JennicaRenee Instagram)

My parents were church planters. My Father was the Pastor and my Mother was the associate Pastor and Worship Leader. They gave their heart and soul to the ministry. It is very difficult to raise 3 kids and devote your life to a career that will bring you no money, no fame, and never get easier. I know that the hard-working and passionate person that I am came out of a family with integrity in the pursuit of serving others and spreading love. I want to do the same with my family. I love telling stories and diving into our grey/complicated culture and examining who we are. I love what I do and am proud of what I do.

Sometimes I wish I could ‘just’ be a parent full-time, but then I realize that I am, because a parent is a FULL person and my children will see all of me and all I do and we will all be better for it.

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(Father & Son Smoochachos, Headshot with Actor Ryan Schwartzman, photobomb by son Freemont Schwartzman)