What does family mean to you? Is it genetic? Or something more?
Genus is a story about family, relationships, and self-discovery.
Meet Katie, a 17- year-old student and aspiring investigative journalist. In most ways, Katie is a typical 17-year-old girl, except for one thing: her origins.
Katie was conceived via anonymous sperm donation and has no idea who her biological father is.
She lives with her single mother, Tania, in Southampton, England, and has never met another donor conceived person, nor been involved with any donor conceived communities.
Meet Jacqueline, a 20-year-old American, also a product of anonymous sperm donation. Jacqueline grew up in New York City, surrounded by a supportive community of single women and their donor-conceived offspring.
Before Jacqueline moved to England to attend the Arts University Bournemouth, she and Katie became friendly via social media. Katie and Jackie are excited to meet on camera for the first time and share their experiences of being donor conceived children and young adults.
Genus will follow Katie as she journeys to meet people with different views about donor conception, as she finds her place within a community she wasn't even aware existed.
Along this journey Katie will meet Joanna Rose Ph.D. Donor conceived herself, Dr. Rose finds the practice unethical and has petitioned to change the rights of donor offspring in court. Dr. Rose's efforts helped to remove anonymity for sperm donors in 2005. Dr. Rose has been featured in The Telegraph, and The Daily Mail as well as in various publications.
Katie and Jacqueline will also travel to London to meet with Natasha Fox, whose mother was the first single woman to receive IVF treatment in Scotland. Tasha has been outspoken in her support of sperm donation and has been featured in The Guardian, and The Daily Record; and has also appeared on STV News and the BBC.
Together, Jacqueline and Katie hope to explore questions about identity and belonging in a journey which seeks to expand the definition of modern family.
Donor conception has been around for decades but has only recently begun to draw media attention. Portrayals of donor offspring are often just donor search stories, or focus on offspring who feel incomplete without knowing their donor. While these views are valid, they aren't the only ones out there. As filmmakers, we feel it is our duty to share a wider picture of the world of donor conception.
From those adamantly against sperm donation to those who couldn't care less about their conception, we hope to highlight a path not often shown by the mainstream media. Katie's story is unique and compelling, and we hope that as our audience follows Katie's journey, they themselves question modern family structure and what it means to be a family.
JACQUELINE SINGER (PRODUCER/SUBJECT) has always been eager to explore her origin on a larger scale and introduce her situation to a larger audience after feeling that the way she was conceived was often misrepresented by the media. After working mostly on fiction films at the Bournemouth Film School, Jacqueline jumped at the opportunity to work with Babette, an aspiring documentarian, to bring this story to the big screen.
BABETTE WEATHERELL (DIRECTOR) is interested in documenting family relationships in a modern context. After hearing about Jacqueline's non-traditional family, Babette was motivated to tell the story of an oft-misrepresented demographic. With Jacqueline producing and helping to guide the film, as the director, Babette brings a fresh perspective to the topic.
IZZIE JONES (CINEMATOGRAPHER) is a London-based AC and Cinematographer, having received training from the Bournemouth Film School, the NFTS, and The British Film Institute. She has shot for feature films and award-winning shortwave projects that have been screened on television and all over the world. She is currently DOP of Bam Bam, a documentary feature film by Quirky Media and Silver Knight Entertainment.
SAMUEL NORTON (PRODUCTION SOUND MIXER) has always had a passion for the recording and manipulation of sound, with a particular interest in fantastical sound effects and design. With a lot of hours dedicated to the practice of sound recording and editing, Sam is always up for trying different, effective methods of getting the best possible results.
HENNA SUOMILAMMI (EDITOR) plans to deliver a dynamically-edited documentary which reaches the audience in a way that will make an impact and raise awareness of donor-conceived children, as well as begin to understand the conflicts that surround the issue.
ELLY MAKEM (ILLUSTRATOR) is a freelance illustrator with a penchant for animation. Her distinct style, both humorous and literal, offers a charming contrast to a naturally serious subject.
We need your help to make Genus a reality. On top of the £900 of funding we’ve received from the Arts University Bournemouth, we are aiming to raise an additional £1,000 to cover transportation, accommodation, equipment hire, post-production and distribution costs, and more. Ultimately the more money we have, the higher the quality of our final product. Your money will allow us to spend more intimate time with our subjects and explore our topic without financial constraints.
We understand that not everyone can afford to help us financially, and if that's the case, please, help us get the word out! Give our Crowdfunder a share on Facebook or Twitter, and follow our film's Facebook page. Tell your friends, tell your coworkers, tell your pets! We would love your help in getting people excited to explore this topic with us.