Milena Viitman: “My screenwriting professor at university always said you can’t write about something you haven’t experienced yourself, and at the time I wasn’t really buying that, I thought I can write about whatever I want, but with time I started to understand it must be true.

 

By Marco Crispano

Tell us about your creative process. Where do you start from? How do you create?

I guess this is something all creative people go through, but, for me a starter is usually when I come across some intriguing, inspiring real-life situation or feel some extraordinary feelings—when you first get the urge to cleanse your mind from this new burst of sensations. At first it doesn’t make much sense when you put everything on paper, but once you add structure, and you still feel the need to share it with the world, it’s probably something worth pursuing. My screenwriting professor at university always said you can’t write about something you haven’t experienced yourself, and at the time I wasn’t really buying that, I thought I can write about whatever I want, but with time I started to understand it must be true. Something needs to touch you deeply in order to make you recreate a feeling, and ultimately—a story.

Do you only write screenplays? Why screenplays and not other literary styles?

My writing comes in many different shapes, I do write poetry a lot, I write letters to my friends, I write diary entries for my children. I find writing as one of the most efficient ways to get in touch with yourself, face your inner struggles, and ultimately feel better. I actually don’t usually write screenplays. I did write this one, just because it was inevitable, if I wanted to make a movie about it.

How do you think that this story can make an impact on women’s rights and conditions nowadays?

It is a fact that movies and stories, being the powerful tool that they are, can make a huge difference in how we perceive things. I feel like so far, we have greatly perceived motherhood and birthing through the male gaze, which is definitely not in its true colors. So, one of the things I want to talk about in this movie is the DARK side of motherhood, which is there almost always. I come from a country where it would be perceived as a sign of weakness to say “motherhood broke me”, or “I did not fall madly in love with my baby the moment I held him in my arms.” I think this is an important topic to discuss because of the way we, as women, are always expected to impeccably perform at our new roles, especially at motherhood, and it’s unacceptable if we fail, which creates pressure, and makes us struggle mentally. I also write about the horrible birthing conditions in the Balkans, where I was unlucky to give birth, and it is very sad to know that today, in 2021, on the territory of Europe practically, some women don’t even survive childbirth. And when they do, they’re left with huge traumas. Also, I talk about parenting inequalities, but I believe that’s largely a result of the way society is wrongfully approaching newborn moms.

What are in your opinion the main stigmas of modern society in relation to birthing and pregnancy?

Modern society still promotes having children as the ultimate goal for women, therefore deciding not to have children is being judged. It uses the media to present motherhood as the most beautiful heavenly bliss, while statistics show that parents are way unhappier than non-parents. Having children is still an obstacle when pursuing or continuing the career of a mother, this is strongly visible even during pregnancy.

Why is this theme so important to you as an author?

It’s a very personal story, as personal as a story can get, and for the first time in my life I felt such injustice, gender-related, society-related, human nature-related. I feel an enormous need to share it, because the world knows very little about this period of every mother’s life.

What are you working on right now?

I’m doing post-production for a couple of short projects I filmed last year, at the same time trying to promote and get funding for “Birthing”, and I’m also developing a feature film script.

What are your long-term goals?

Coming out of the motherhood-bubble myself, I want to continue writing and eventually make movies about the complexity of human relationships, especially when they’re influenced, shaped or even broken by our basic, inevitable primal needs.

THE SCREENWRITER

Name: Milena Viitman
Screenplay: Birthing

From: Macedonia