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Parent's Group 4


Front Matter for Ruby Challenger's exegesis submitted 2021 to AFTRS

Motherhood In Front and Behind the Screen:

Using personal experiences to create specificity in film and create production environments supportive to mothers.

Ruby Challenger


An exegesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Arts Screen: Directing


Australian Film Television & Radio School








Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations    
Statement of Original Authorship    

               Research Project & Research Background/Context   
               Research Question    
               Aims & Scope of Research    
               Establish and Evaluate Methodology & Methods    
               Introduce Your Project    
               Identify the Significance of Your Creative & Research Projects    
               Key Terms    
Source Review    
      In Front of the Camera    
               Thematic Influences    
               Reductionist Representations of Motherhood    
               Creating a Criteria    
               Motherhood out of sight    
               Mulvey and Kaplan    
               Stereotypes of Screen Mothers    
               Women Fit In    
               Mother/Daughter Schism    
               The Genre Mother    
               The Australian Screen Mother    
      Behind the Camera    
               Working Mum    
               Are there mothers behind the camera?    
               Feminism in 2014 Australian film    
               Gender Matters – White Paper 2015    
               Raising Films – Honey I Hid the Kids 2018    
Project and Process    
      In Front of the Camera    
               Creating specificity through my personal experience    
               What is MumLife?    
               Script – Owning My Story    
               Script – Mental Health as Antagonist    
               Script – Specific Anxieties    
               Songs – The Inner Song    
               Songs – ‘Real’ Mums    
               Songs – Drawing the Audience Closer    
               Casting - Age    
               Casting – Real Bodies    
               Casting – Dads in MumLife    
               Choreography – The Post-Partum Body    
               Costume & Sets – Song One; The Parent’s Group    
      Behind the Camera    
               Mums of MumLife    
               Creating a supportive culture for mothers on MumLife    
               Supportive Actions Taken    
               Children in Meetings and Rehearsals    
               Informal job sharing    
               On Set Nanny    
               Flexible Hours    
               Me and My Child 

               Me and My Child - Thoughts
               In Front of the Camera 

               In Front of the Camera - My Hope   
               Behind the Camera    

               Behind the Camera - My Hope
Reference List    

List of Abbreviations

AFTRS - Australian Film Television and Radio School
PPA - Post-partum Anxiety
PPD - Post-partum Depression
WIFT - Women in Film and Television
HOD - Head of Department

Statement of Original Authorship

The work contained in this exegesis is my own original work, or the original work of my group, except where original sources have been appropriately cited using the AFTRS Citation and Referencing Guidelines. This exegesis has not previously been submitted for assessment elsewhere.

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I would like to acknowledge my childcare support team, without which none of this would be possible:

My husband, Eli, who has done everything possible to support me following my dreams, even when that meant supporting me applying for AFTRS with a three-month-old baby.


My mother, Carol, and stepfather, Greg, who have been Oma and Poppy Day-care as often as needed, and who housed and fed all three of us for the last stretch of the Masters.


My father, Ned, and stepmother, Georgie, who have supported us in more ways than I can count. 


My mother-in-law, Jill, who uprooted her life, living in our spare room, so she could be Scout’s primary carer for the first year of the Masters.


Ruby Challenger

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