Two adventurous women in love are desperate to have their own biological child. They take a chance on an experimental scientific process and make sperm from their own stem cells. Pregnant with humour and unexpected twists, their journey tailspins out of control when their families discover there is no father.
Athena and Lilith are two women in love. As with most couples, they dream of having a child that is a true biological combination of them both. Although Mother Nature doesn’t work that way, modern science has found a way to make one plus one equal two. With the help of Jim, a trusted lab technician, they use sperm made from Lilith’s stem cells to inseminate Athena. And it works! Athena is pregnant with Lilith’s child.
Lilith is happy to be an expectant mother, but secretly wishes she was the pregnant one. She goes behind Athena’s back and convinces Jim from the lab to help her with the same process. That causes some friction, but the couple works it out, and everything is running smoothly, until their families get involved.
First there’s Athena’s obnoxious brother Larry. Over a year ago, they approached him to be a sperm donor. Now he thinks he’s going to be a dad. To set the record straight, and prove he is not the father of Lilith’s baby, the couple is forced to divulge the truth. They call a family meeting and announce the news to their loved ones.
Athena’s religious right-wing mother, Wanda wavers between total denial and going through the roof. Her father Karl seems dumbfounded. Grandma Kate accepts the news with quips of humour, wisdom and love. Lilith’s gay alcoholic parents, Daniel and Edward, are ready to be granddads but have their own troubles to face.
While everyone sits back to digest the surprising news of the pregnant couple, Karl makes an announcement that sends the family meeting into a tailspin. The trauma that results brings life’s blessings into perspective and acts as a catalyst for change and growth. What begins as a story of advancements in science, THE BABY FORMULA ultimately ends in a tale of love, acceptance and family.
Until recently, it has been impossible for gay couples to conceive of the idea of being able to combine their genetics and have their own biological children. That has always struck me as sad. When I read an article about some science that made it possible to create offspring from two female mice, it resonated with me, and inspired me to make this film.
The Baby Formula follows a lesbian couple through their pregnancies as if they are the first women in the world giving birth to each others babies. The two actresses I cast were both pregnant in real life, and this resulted in some incredible experiences in shooting the film. We have real footage of the pregnancies, and of the mothers with their new born babies. Life did indeed imitate art when Angela Vint (who plays Athena) had her water break as we were rehearsing the scene in which her character’s water breaks.
In researching the film, I spoke to stem cell experts around the world. For the purposes of the story, we have assumed that the science is further along than it is in real life, however the scientific explanations are accurate. This scientific backdrop becomes a pallet for a story that is ultimately about family, and the common ground facing us all despite our diversity.
I hope you enjoy The Baby Formula, and get a few good laughs as well as some food for thought!
– Alison Reid
THE BABY FORMULA is truly a story of life imitating art: the coincidences that occurred in the making of this film blur the line between fiction and reality.
Director Alison Reid was on the festival circuit with her short film, “Succubus” – a dramedy about Athena and Lilith, a lesbian couple attempting to conceive a baby that is a true biological combination of them both – when she discovered that lead actresses, Angela Vint and Megan Fahlenbock, were both pregnant!
Reid immediately saw an opportunity for a feature length sequel. The premise of the THE BABY FORMULA would be that Athena and Lilith are the first women in the world giving birth to each other’s babies.
In real life, scientists have been able to produce offspring from two female mice, without the involvement of male mice. In 2004, Dr. Tomohiro Kono of Japan created fatherless mice by fusing two eggs. In 2006 Dr. Karim Nayernia in the U. K. produced six live mouse pups using artificial sperm made from embryonic stem cells. In THE BABY FORMULA, Athena works in a lab where similar research is happening. She and Lilith have made sperm from their own stem cells and fertilized each other’s eggs.
Alison wanted to shoot over the course of Angela and Megan’s pregnancies, so time was of the essence. There was no opportunity to raise funding. The Actra TIP Program (low budget) and executive producer, David J. Woods (supplying the camera, grip and electric equipment) were key in allowing Alison to bring the project to fruition.
There was also no time for the normal development process. Richard Beattie immediately started writing the script, and shooting began before it was completed. “Succubus” producers James Mou and Stephen Adams sprang back into action. New characters were cast as they were written. Rosemary Dunsmore, Michael Hanrahan, Sarrain Boylan, Hal Eisen, Roger Dunn and Dmitry Chepovetsky all came to the project at various stages.
And when the unexpected happened… new scenes were written on the spot: Originally, the script called for Athena to have her water break while she and Lilith were attending the Pride Parade. Lilith would put her wife on the back of a Harley Davidson and whisk her away to the hospital in the middle of the Pride festivities. Permission was gained for THE BABY FORMULA to shoot during Toronto’s Pride Week. A special effects plastic bag was to be strapped under Angela’s skirt to simulate her water breaking. However, during rehearsals, Angela got off the motorcycle and quietly told Alison that her water had just broken in real life! Angela went to the hospital to give birth to her baby, and THE BABY FORMULA Pride shoot went on.
Shooting THE BABY FORMULA over the course of the pregnancies enabled Vint and Fahlenbock to draw on real emotions and experiences which were key in creating the atmosphere in the film. Reid also cast actors who were comfortable ad-libbing and encouraged them to use the charm and wit in Beattie’s script as a spring board for their own creativity.
One of the many gems that resulted was Angela Vint’s suggestion that she and Megan do a lip sync dance to the Black Eyed Peas song “My Humps” with their big pregnant bellies exposed. After a quick sampling of what this would look like, Reid couldn’t resist. The sequence was shot on spec, and the footage was then sent to the music publisher, who loved it. With the help of Vapor Music, this small indie film was able to secure rights to the hit song for its end credit sequence.
In researching the scientific aspects of THE BABY FORMULA, Alison spoke to scientists and bio-ethicists around the world. The scenes that were written with Dr Oldenhoff (RD Reid) and Lab Technician, Jim (Matt Baram) were directly based on her visit to Dr. Andras Nagy at the Mt. Sinai laboratory of stem cell research. Although extra humour has been sprinkled in for good measure, the substance of what is said about the science is accurate.
The synergy on set was amazing. Cast and crew all commented that THE BABY FORMULA was a special film. Paul Zimic from Grindstone Media felt the same way and became a partner in the film. Momentum continued when Telefilm Canada granted completion funding. Super Channel has licensed the film and will broadcast it after the theatrical release.
RUNNING TIME: 81 minutes
FORMAT: HDCAM SR, COLOR
SOUND: DOLBY 5.1