Interview conducted by Leeds Beckett University Business School journalism student, Georgia Dossis. Leeds Beckett Universities Northern Film School is the official education partner of the Harrogate Film Festival.

Tell me about the journey of making ‘Who’s the Daddy?’

Mary Sue: I’m from an advertising background, commercial writer director and I had been working on a series called ‘The Motherhood’, and then Motherland came out and I cried for three days. But then I realised that there was a story line in there that would make a great short film and I still wanted to get it out there. This storyline was two mothers using the same sperm donor.

It took me a while to find the right producer, it’s not easy to get a short film off the ground but we were blessed. I was actually listening to a film maker on a the radio the other day who said “the fact that any films makes it off the ground is a miracle because there is so much that can go wrong”, I found that just with our short film as we filmed and the next day the rain was biblical. We were just so lucky.

I spoke to an agent yesterday at United Artists and we will be approaching production companies with the view that we can turn this into a comedy series. So that would be mission accomplished.

Clancie: Mary Sue actually came to me off the back of a film that I’d produced called ‘Early Days’ which won best drama, critic’s choice and audience awards last year at the Harrogate Film Festival. She approached me and asked what I could do to help her, but she didn’t actually ask me to produce it. It was always more of a ‘what can I do to get this made?’ which I later found out she was hoping I’d say ‘do you want me to produce it?’

As soon as I agreed to do it, we just got things going! We half crowd funded it and Mary Sue self-funded the rest and it just started to unfold from there.

Mary Sue Masson and Clancie Brennan
Mary Sue Masson and Clancie Brennan

At the end of your film you have a statistic that states 54,000 women are fired after becoming a mother, was this part of your inspiration to the film?

Mary Sue: So when I was writing it, one of the storylines was that the main protagonist lost her job in advertising. I used to be a creator in advertising, it’s a brutal industry and I found this statistic and thought wow I need to get that out there if you are going through the trouble to make a film even as a comedy it’s nice to carry a message if it’s relevant. So when I was writing it I made it in the dialogue of her job loss and just raised it more in that storyline.

Do you know any people in this statistic?

Mary Sue: Oh yeah, I have friends who have had kids and gone back to work and been actively demoted or their job was no longer then for them. I think it’s changed a lot and a lot is going in the right direction, however it does still happen.

Would you include more mothers like this if it does become a series?

Mary Sue: No it’s not about that, what me and Clancie were discussing when we were making the short is what we were excited by. Same sex marriage has only been legal in the UK since 2014. We know we have friends in same sex marriages with children and this is not something you see reflected back at you on the small screen.

So we like the idea of creating a comedy drama series about families and lives, incorporating families that people often call ‘other’. We feel media or certainly TV, is a little bit behind the curve there.

Who's the Daddy? Film Poster
Who's the Daddy? Film Poster

This is your first time in the festival, how do you feel?

Mary Sue: It’s lovely, it’s so good to be here with Clancie. I mean it would definitely be great to win something but there are a lot of corkers in there, I was really impressed! The cinema as well is just gorgeous!

How do you feel that the film has been received across the circuit so far?

Mary Sue: I think very well, it’s been shortlisted for three nominations in a film festival in LA. A lot of the time it hasn’t converted to win, but if I’m honest, it’s not the perfect short film. But I think it’s the perfect short film that works really well as a pilot. I had to fit a lot in there and usually the better short films are really stripped back. I don’t want to do it down, I think it’s a lovely little ten minute and no one’s ever bored. The production was outstanding and I’m really chuffed with it.

Clancie: We learnt a lot though, I mean with every film you do learn something. If you aren’t learning you don’t feel fulfilled because you’re not taking anything away. When I read the script that opening scene I was interested and wanted to read more and then executing it was exactly how I imagined it so it’s great!

Georgia Dossis

Journalism Student, Leeds Beckett University