I’ve always loved capturing life’s magical moments and applied my background in documentary filmmaking and photography in doing so.
In 2001, my friends asked me to film the birth of their first child. It was a candle lit water birth at their home. I was honored to be present at Shaya’s beautiful birth, and although I didn’t know it at the time, that is where my journey as a birth filmmaker began. A couple of births later and with great encouragement from family, friends and birth professionals, this became my passion.
My presence at a birth is calm, quiet and unobtrusive, created by a deep respect for the sacred space, emotions and needs of the birthing mother. I work with the available conditions, no extra lighting, minimalistic.
When hired to film a birth, I’m on call from 2 weeks before the EDD (Estimated Due Date) until two weeks after. I usually arrive around the same time as the doula and stay for 1-2 hours after the baby is born. This allows me to film the precious moments that unfold before, during and after the birth. The anticipation, the emotions, the crowning, the first breath, the first touch, the first eye contact, the bonding, the feeding, and the marveling at this new presence in your life; These all tell the story of the baby’s birth day. The second creation journey takes place in the editing room, as I go through the raw footage picking out the most moving, inspiring, and touching moments and weaving them with music, titles, stills and love. Much of my time goes into this part of my work, as each birth is unique, and editing in general is a slow process.
Your personal birth movie will unfold your birthing journey and your child’s coming into being. It is a movie you will view over and over and share with your close family and friends, and most importantly, with your child.
Inspired by birthing moms and the childbirth professionals community, I decided to expand my understanding of the birth process and attended a DONA International doula training in November 2011, and in 2012 I became a Hypnobirthing® doula as well.
Why should I have my birth filmed?
People have many life milestones filmed such as weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s, graduations… so why not film one of the most important moments of your life and probably the biggest milestone of your journey as a parent; The birth of your child. You may not remember much of it, as all the special moments of your birth morph into a blur. Having a beautiful birth movie celebrating that day will give you, your child and your family a visual expression of your child’s birth and first moments outside the womb. You will be able to show your child their birth story and not only share it verbally. Parents never regret having their birth journey filmed professionally, but some of my clients do regret not knowing me when they had their first children. I invite you to watch a couple of video testimonials on my website (Alice & Max and Sara & Doug), and read some of the written testimonials under RAVES. If you are a skeptic, they just might change your mind. 🙂
Why not have my partner or doula film the birth?
Holding a video camera creates a natural barrier between the videographer and the subject. It keeps you in your head and not necessarily in the moment. Your partner is big part of your birth journey and deserves to be in the movie as well – not behind the camera. You will need your partner’s physical and emotional support and full focus and presence. In addition, your partner may be too excited or emotional to film well and might miss some of the beautiful and essential moments of your child’s birth. A doula is trained to be your physical, emotional and educational support at the birth. Though some doulas may know how to use a video camera, I can share from my experience as a trained doula myself that it is impossible to commit to both roles 100%. It would be like having your Maid of Honor film your wedding. You would miss out on some amazing moments of your doula working with you or watching over you with her caring presence. A professional videographer is trained to work in low light, backlit or on the fly situations. We know how to film in any environment and how to angle and move for the best possible results. There is a huge difference between what a professionally filmed birth looks like to what someone-you-know-that-has-a video-camera’s work looks like. Without the proper training and experience, the footage of a non-professional is often over- or under- exposed, blurry and shot at less than flattering angles. Don’t deprive yourself or your child from having the best birth movie possible.
Do we meet before the birth?
Your birth is a very personal and intimate life event, so meeting in person and developing a relationship is important. For a home birth, I’d prefer to meet at your home, otherwise we can choose a mutually agreed upon location. At our meeting we will discuss your wants and needs, the options I offer, answer questions etc. If time does not allow for a personal meeting, we could have a skype, Facetime or phone consultation.
Will you be on call for my birth?
My hold time for your birth starts from two weeks before until two weeks after your EDD, and during that time I will be on call for your birth 24/7 until your baby is born. During this time, I also don’t schedule anything I can’t cancel or give up, I don’t travel or even leave the area, I don’t go out of cell range, and my gear is always packed and ready to go. Your non-refundable deposit reserves me for the month surrounding birth. If your on-call time overlaps that of another client, I will have a back up birth filmmaker available. She may film a few hours, until I become available, or your entire birth if needed. She would also fill in for me, should I be sick and unable to attend your birth.
What if I want to hire you, but you’re unavailable?
Again, this is where my back-up comes handy, as she may be available to film your birth, or possibly cover me until I can become available. Another great option you can consider is having me film your First Days Movie, as it offers more flexibility.
When do I call you?
Call me as soon as you have any signs of labor, even if you don’t need me yet. Having a ‘heads-up’ will give me time to rearrange my day, finish whatever I’m doing, head home, prepare etc. If it’s after 11pm don’t text, CALL!, as I wont here a text! Together we will decide when I should come. I will usually be with you within 2-3 hours from the time you ask me to come. It may take longer if we had no early communication and/or ‘heads up’ on your status, if your location is more than 15 miles from my home, and/or if the drive occurs during rush hour. Early communication and being ‘in the know’ is essential for me to get there sooner rather than later. I also have a “When to Call Jodie” sheet that I will give you.
When do you arrive and how long do you stay?
A good time for me to arrive is just before or around the time your doula arrives. If you haven’t hired a doula, then we will make that decision together once you labor begins, usually when you’re around 5-6cm. I remain at your birth for 1-2 hours after your baby is born, so I could capture all the first moments of your baby’s life outside the womb. Please read my “When to call Jodie” page.
What if I go into labor in the middle of the night?
Once I’m on call for you, I’m available 24/7, and that means you can call me in the middle of the night as well.
What happens if you miss the birth?
Birth is unpredictable, and even though my schedule is cleared for your birth, and I may have a backup birth filmmaker, there is always the possibility of some unforeseeable emergency that may prevent me and/or my backup from being there on time or at all. This also includes precipitous labors. Should this happen, and I miss the actual birth but arrive right after, then I will film all the first hours of your baby’s life and use that to create your movie. If you have stills and/or video footage from the birth, I can possibly incorporate that into the movie. If I don’t make it at all, then I will offer you My First Days Movie or My Family Time Movie instead. My First Days Movie would be filmed within 72 hours after birth and My Family Time Movie within 1-3 months. If I am unable to attend your birth due to no fault of my own (i.e. I am not called on time and given proper advanced notice, I am not called at all, it was a precipitous birth etc.) you must call me within 24 hours of your birth if you would like to schedule a session for My First Days Movie. The fees are non-refundable.
What if my labor is very long or very short?
We all hope for a birth that lasts a ‘reasonable’ amount of time. If you have a very short labor, everyone ‘wins.’ If you have a long labor, I will be there for as long as it takes, at no extra charge.
Will you film at my home as well, if I want to go to the hospital at the very last minute?
Yes. Your home is where the journey begins, and if you plan on staying there as long as you can, then I would want to be there to capture the magic.
How far will you travel to film a birth?
Within the greater Los Angeles area, I can travel approx 30 miles for a birth pretty safely. I will travel a bit further than that, but depending on traffic conditions, there could be a possible risk of missing your birth. That is why early communication is very important. There is a $2 per mile fee for locations further than thirty (30) miles from my zip code, 90068. Theoretically, if my schedule permits, I can travel anywhere. For more distant locations, however, additional fees such as airfare, ground transport, room and board etc. will be added.
What is your rate for filming a birth?
My rates vary depending on where you birth and what option/s you choose. The rate covers many things such as the pre-natal consultation, 4 weeks of on call time, the time at your birth, limiting the number of additional clients, music licensing fees etc. You can find my rate sheet under the Contact section.
Do you offer a sliding scale?
I do offer discounted rates when I can and under specific circumstances and conditions. These are determined on an individual basis. I also offer home and birthing center births a reduced fee. From my experience, I’ve found that I spend more hours at hospital births, as I often start filming at the home and then transfer to the hospital. There are also more costs involved with hospital birth such as parking, coffee, food etc. The editing rate is the same for all births.
Do they allow filming at the hospital or birth center?
Most hospitals allow filming, but you must verify that with your OBGYN. If informed ahead of time that you are hiring a professional birth videographer, they are likely to be more accommodating. Adding it to your birth preferences and communicating your choice with your caregivers can be very beneficial. Let them know how important it is to you. Birth centers are pretty open to filming, but I would still clear it with your midwife.
What about a Cesarean birth?
I have filmed Cesarean births in the past. Whether yours is a planned Cesarean or not, you will need permission from both your OBGYN and anesthesiologist to have me film it. Keep in mind that most hospitals only allow 1 or 2 people in the OR. If the hospital does not allow filming and/or stills during a Cesarean birth, then I will film before and right after. If I’m not allowed into the OR, then your birth companion could take stills/video with a smart phone or small digital camera during the surgery, and I will edit that into your birth movie.
What music do you use for My Birth Movie?
Due to copyright laws, I only use licensed music. As I edit your birth, I carefully select the music to create a soundtrack that fits the emotion and enhances the final Birth Movie.
Or… Have you have ever wanted a song written just for you or for someone you love? Your story to music. A special song that evokes all the love that you are. Add a Custom Crafted Song by Chicago Singer/Songwriter, Vessy Mink, and bring something special to your memorable Birth Movie. Vessy will converse with you about all the things that make up this beautiful time of your life and what you would like your special song to convey. The end result will be a unique and inspiring song for your Birth Movie and an audio recording that you can cherish and share for years to come. You could also choose from one of Vessy’s pre-recorded songs for My Birth Movie. See rate sheet for cost details.
Will the film be graphic?
Some women want to have it all, and some would rather keep in PG. There are many ways for me to film your baby’s entrance into the world while still keeping it PG. At your consultation, we discuss what you want and don’t want filmed, as well as what you would like to have in the edited birth movie. I work within your comfort level, and you could change your mind about what you want me to film even at the birth itself. I can also have moments of your birth movie blurred out for an extra charge.
In what format is the final edited Birth Movie, and how long will it be?
I will deliver your final edited birth movie as an .mov file. Once on your own hard drive – you can make multiple copies of it. To be safe, I recommend making back-up copies on at least 2 hard-drives. The final birth movie is typically 8-12 minutes long.
Can you make still images from the video footage?
Yes, for an additional fee.
How soon will I receive My Birth Movie?
Much of my time goes into the editing of your birth movie, and that is where my creation journey begins. Each birth tells a unique story, and each personal birth movie is treated as such. I go through the raw footage choosing the most touching and inspiring moments. I then weave them with music, titles, stills and love. This process could take up to 2-3 months, depending on my workload. If you needed it sooner than 6 weeks after the birth, I do offer a rush service for an additional 20% of your total editing fee.
When is a good time to book you?
Once you’ve decided to have your birth filmed, call me. The sooner you reserve me, the better, as I could only take a limited number of births.
© Jodie Myers 2009 All Rights Reserved