Being your sister's wife's sperm donor is a heavy load.
Interview with Director Lisa Donato
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Why thank you! I made this film because Fawzia Mirza told me to. Haha. Just kidding. Fawzia sent me a script that was having a hard time finding a home. I was drawn to the story because it was a fresh take on baby-making for queer couples. I wanted to make a comedy and the brother-sister-sister’s wife dynamic was the perfect set up.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
This film is funny and will surprise you. I love watching this film with an audience because everyone laughs for different reasons and it’s always fascinating to see what moments hit or miss. Fawzia, Laura, and Jake had electrifying chemistry on set and they brought the whimsical and brooding characters to life.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The universal theme in the film is that Love Conquers All. Despite the adversity that the characters face together in trying to make a baby, they still have their weird little trio and relationships. No matter what happens, they are family and their bond will always be strengthened and reinforced by 90’s female pop music. The individual theme explores what we are willing to do for our families and partners in the name of love and even when it’s really, really awkward.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Spunkle is about a brother who becomes the sperm donor for his sister’s wife. The process for bringing this script to life paralleled the characters in the film trying to have a baby; there were a lot of people trying to make it work. The very first iteration of the script was written by a comedian in LA, Mo Welch. The script was originally called Mood. She brought the script to Fawzia Mirza, an actress/writer whom I’ve worked with on previous films. Fawzia brought the script to me and we co-wrote a new version that changed the character arc for the brother, Matt, and found more comedic moments.
We changed the name to Baby-Making. We needed more male perspective and polish, so we brought the script to another screenwriter, Ryan Logan. A friend of ours and story consultant, Renee Liu, had firsthand experience with asking her brother to be her wife’s sperm donor. They called him their Spunkle (sperm donor + uncle), which inspired the chosen name for our film. Finally, a radiant woman in Chicago, Nabeela Rasheed, invested in the project and our dreams and we shot in her beautiful home in July 2015.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The film has been audience favorite at multiple festivals. We leave the story open-ended and people want to see more from the characters. The concept would make a great feature film or TV series.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I’m surprised by how many times I’m asked about “what happens next” with Spunkle while I’m touring with other projects.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
By increasing visibility to the film, we hope that someone will see it and want to invest in further development of the story and characters. We hope we can make it into a long-form story!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
A sales agent and/or distributor who believes in the future of this project will help amplify the film’s message and spark further opportunities. I would love to see this film get over 100k views once it’s released online!
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I want people to have fun while they watch the film. Considering the current tense political climate, we need more reasons to laugh and take ourselves less seriously. I want queer couples who are struggling to make babies to remember that none of this means shit (anything) without love and togetherness.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Does a child need two biological parents to feel loved and complete? Can a parent love a child that is not their biological child the same as one that is biologically theirs?
Would you like to add anything else?
When I was trying to figure out the character arc of Matt, I used my wife’s brother for research. I genuinely asked him if he would be my sperm donor. He squirmed in his chair for about 45 minutes, vacillating between yes and no, until he finally said no because he couldn’t let go of being a dad. The brother in Spunkle becomes so obsessed with the idea of fatherhood that he is crushed when he realizes that he will no longer be part of equation once the baby is born.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Fawzia Mirza and I co-wrote a feature film (in which she also stars in) about a Pakistani-Muslim woman who falls in love with a Hispanic woman and copes by taking lucha-style wrestling, called Signature Move. It world-premiered at SXSW and was picked up for Amazon Prime distribution for March 2018. I’ve collaborated on two other projects with the other Spunkle co-leads, Jake and Laura. Jake Matthews and I co-wrote a film inspired by the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, called The News Today. He also stars in the film and it will world-premiere on May 27th at Inside Out Toronto. Laura Zak will star in a new short that I wrote called Foxy Trot, about a lesbian couple who take ballroom dance lessons and are unexpectedly faced with their relationship issues. Jake Matthews was recently cast in a new one-hour drama for CBS, Wisdom of the Crowd, alongside lead Jeremy Piven. Laura Zak recently won Peabody and Gotham awards for her emmy-nominated digital series, Her Story, and works on the new Amazon original animated comedy, Danger & Eggs. Fawzia is working with screenwriter, Terrie Samundra, to turn her one-woman show into a feature film (Me, My Mom, & Sharmila).
Interview: May 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
A brother contemplates fatherhood when his older sister and her free-spirited wife ask him to be their sperm donor.
Length: 11 min
Director: Lisa Donato
Producer: Steven Hudosh, Lisa Donato, Fawzia Mirza
Writer: Fawzia Mirza, Lisa Donato, Ryan Logan
Key cast: Fawzia Mirza, Laura Zak, Jake Matthews
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): All but producer
Social media handles: @spunkle
Twitter/Instagram: (Lisa Donato) @directordonato (Fawzia Mirza) @thefawz (Laura Zak) @la_wa
Funders: Beela Productions & Sparkle Motion Films
Where can I see it in the next month? TBD