This Is to Mother You



LISA CHOLODENKO XLRG (BRADLEY MEINZ) | ADVOCATE.COMThe film’s birth involved a slow, six-year gestation period that helped thrust Cholodenko into the mainstream. She says, “I felt like, Fuck, man, this is in the zeitgeist. This is the stuff that’s affecting our lives, and it hasn’t been put out there with recognizable actors in any kind of mainstream way.”

She wrote a few drafts and quickly learned that the indie film world had changed and that the more distant a story was from everyday people’s lives, the less likely it was to land financing. “The more challenging, the more rarefied tonally, you’re just loading on the obstacles,” she says, explaining that one of those obstacles is gay subject matter. “But if you do something that’s funny and accessible, chances are someone’s going to write a check to help [you] make it.”

Rather than battle the system, Cholo­denko opted to work within it. “I went, ‘There’s comedy in here. Let’s bust it open!’ ” she says. For the first time in her career she teamed up with another writer. Stuart Blumberg, himself a donor dad, who wrote the 2000 Ben Stiller comedy Keeping the Faith, brought a comedic sensi­bility to the process, she says.

Considering how few depictions of same-sex parents exist on-screen, is Cholodenko concerned that presenting these parents’ less-than-admirable moves will send the wrong message to those who oppose marriage equality? “Nope,” she says immediately, shrugging. “You know, I’ll be really blunt. I’ve been out for a long time. I own a house with somebody. We have a child. I’m not even in the consciousness of taking the temperature of people when I meet [them] and wondering how they feel about it. I don’t even care anymore. I’m just done.”

In her assessment, films with political agendas are for gay and lesbian film festivals. “I have an opportunity to have this go into the big, broad world,” she says. “Anything kind of earnest or political went against my own sense of what human nature is really like, the way people are for real.”

If Cholodenko’s films share one trait, it’s that her characters are flawed the way real people are. About these characters, she says, “They’re people who are still in touch with culture and listen to cool music and say the word ‘fuck’ in front of their children and drink too much wine and do things that some people might not think are the right things to do. But they can still be kind of upstanding and have a very specific code of ethics for their kids and values and raise good kids.”

Tags: Families