The term ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ tends to conjure images of late night benders, glamorous hotel rooms and breaking all the rules. But Jackie Weissman’s latest documentary, Rock N Roll Mamas, proves that it can also be a world filled with nappies, breastfeeding and play dates…at least when you’re an indie rock goddess who also happens to be a mum.
A film that was almost a decade in the making, Rock N Roll Mamas centres around the lives of Zia McCabe (Dandy Warhols), Kristen Hersh (Throwing Muses, 50 Foot Wave), and hip hop artist Ms. Su’ad as they walk the line between bands and babies. It was finally released in 2013, and it will enjoy its Australian debut at the World Of Women Film Festival.
Weissman first the conceived the idea for the documentary while her son was a toddler and she lost her job as a video editor. She began searching for role models in the documentary world who, like herself, were freelancing whilst raising a family. Initially, she found this task difficult, until happening upon an article about alternative rock musicians who were mothers. She identified with their stories and believed that other people would also. But this is no E! True Hollywood Story. Audiences will see the real and gritty side of child rearing and being a rock musician without the luxury of an entourage of nannies and educators. Even more interesting, we get to see it from the perspective of women who are respectively tackling the job in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
Being a working mother herself, the story of these three ladies of rock parallels Weissman’s in many ways as she filmed around her son’s preschool schedule and her husband’s job. One of the biggest challenges she faced was funding such a long-term venture. “While making the film, the music and doc film industry changed quite a bit, making finding money to make a film like this one scarce,” she said. “I am very lucky to have a supportive partner and son, and friends, as well as a terrific producer and editor.”
This is a theme that’s important to the documentary in general; the importance of a support network for a mother working in the entertainment industry. Weissman believes that this where “a supportive spouse or family is imperative as the hours are sporadic and usually at night…I do think husbands/partners should take an equal role in childrearing no matter what field the mother chooses to go into.”
The ‘superwoman’ complex is a concept that impacts heavily upon modern women, and one which is addressed directly by Weissman in the film. “I think women (and men) are expected by society to juggle and have it all and this is not a realistic expectation. Something is always sacrificed, happiness, sleep, money, spending time with your children, etc. … I think people need to prioritize what is important to them in life and act on those priorities, not what society expects of them,” she says. “After showing this film to many musicians, artists, and parents, I can say that it will validate whatever choices you make for yourself. Some people think these women have a very hard life while others think they are kick ass and powerful. It is up to the viewer to decide.”