Genes make people, but what makes a family? An Extended Family examines the emerging and evolving relationships between seven families who share the same sperm donor. At the same time, this film is a document of Susan's and my personal journey to create our family.
It all started with a cat scratch.
In 1983, a few weeks after Susan’s and my wedding, our young cat scratched me. That little scratch turned into a severe case of cat scratch disease (Bartonella henselae), bringing with it months of high fevers. Twelve years later, as we tried to figure out why we couldn’t have kids, we learned that those fevers had rendered me sterile.
As we searched for a way to have a child with a genetic link to at least one of us, Susan and I found our way to a sperm bank in northern California. With a sperm donor's help we were able to conceive our twins, Jack and Sophie.
In the 16 years since our kids were born, we have come to know seven other families (four single parents and three lesbian couples) through a family contact list our sperm bank invited us to join. These families used the same donor we did to conceive their children. An Extended Family examines the relationship that has developed between those families.
You may have seen other films that involve the topic of sperm donation, but An Extended Family tells a very different story.
Several films have examined the topic of sperm donors, but those films either have focused on the donor or the donor-conceived children's quest to find the donor. We take a different approach in An Extended Family.
Our documentary film focuses on the interactions and relationships between the seven families. Our children are linked genetically but is there any other bond? What, if anything, binds the parents together? And what are we to each other? Are we friends, family, or something else? What makes a family a family?
At its core, An Extended Family examines the evolving sense of family that assisted reproductive technology has made possible. Our cameras have tagged along as the family members interact, socialize and grow to know each other. The children and parents also share their own stories in the film. Respected experts and researchers on family and society offer rich insights and context.
We Need Your Help.
With your help, we will be able to complete An Extended Family and share this unique story with audiences. We have made much progress on the film but need some help in several areas to complete the film:
- The film would benefit from footage of the families who reside in Texas and the east coast
- We need to produce music for the film, or license existing music
- The film will need to be color corrected for consistency
- Several bits of stock footage must be licensed
- We want to commission graphics to help illustrate these complex and changing relationships
- We want to run subtitles for the film so it can reach the broadest possible audience
- Contributions will help us submit An Extended Family to film festivals, LGBT support groups and child advocacy groups
- We want to package the film as a DVD and a digital download
If we are fortunate enough to exceed our target then new possibilities emerge for the film, including animation, involving a sound designer in the project and better marketing materials.
Please help us make An Extended Family a reality. Please donate if you can, and feel free to share this campaign with your social networks.
Stephen Lee and Susan Czark
Risks and challenges
As with all film projects, our completion of An Extended Family faces several potential pitfalls. If this Kickstarter campaign is not successful many of the components we detailed above for which we need support will need to be scrapped or rethought. We likely will miss our targeted October 2014 completion and the film will lack some of the texture that would help the story. Distribution of the film and submitting it to film festivals will become much more challenging without the Kickstarter help. For these unavoidable costs we will need to find other funding.
Our final challenge is that this also is an ongoing, living story. Other families may join the family contact list. This "extended family" will continue to evolve, which suggests why this is such an exciting project to bring to audiences.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)