×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Beyond Conception: Men Having Babies

The realities of a gay couple arranging for a child are as difficult as they sound in documaker Johnny Symons' docu. Complicating the picture is that the men's baby is to be delivered by lesbian surrogates, who themselves are trying for a child of their own. A 65-minute edition is scheduled to air July 20 on the Discovery Health Channel.

With:
With: Jenna Franet, Jennifer Franet, Bruce Gilpin, Paul Moreno, Dr. Guy Ringler, Jade.

The realities of a gay couple arranging for a child are as difficult as they sound in documaker Johnny Symons’ “Beyond Conception: Men Having Babies.” Complicating the picture is that the men’s baby is to be delivered by lesbian surrogates, who themselves are trying for a child of their own. Pic serves as a precursor and companion to Symons’ 2002 “Daddy & Papa,” about the issues of gay men as fathers, humanizing a topic often treated impersonally in the media. While longer fest version continues on the circuit, a 65-minute edition is scheduled to air July 20 on the Discovery Health Channel.

Displeased with the adoption process that yielded their first child, San Francisco-based Bruce Gilpin and Paul Moreno have decided to have a child with the help of surrogates and an egg donor. The pair is matched with couple Jennifer and Jenna Franet (also in S.F. and with two kids care of Jennifer’s former, hetero, marriage).

Symons follows the couples wherever events take them, which proves to be a smart approach. Perhaps because of its destination on cable, the mood (and music) tends to be upbeat to a somewhat unreal degree, and the idea to chain events together with a countless string of “two weeks later” inserts should have been dropped.

The science and the personal changes that develop over several months — starting with Gilpin and Moreno going from feeling happy with the Franets to sensing some doubts about their birth partners — grabs interest. However, in a Q&A session following the Outfest screening, the fact that the two couples now are leading separate, disconnected lives was addressed, and it’s unfortunate that was not included in the film.

The fascinating process of the combination of both men’s sperm with eggs donated by a young woman named Jade, and then the insemination into Jennifer’s uterus to produce a pregnancy, is consistently framed inside the human drama.

Issues raised include discomforting eugenics matters: Gilpin and Moreno select Jade for her physical and mental attributes, but are momentarily troubled by her family history of breast cancer. At the same time that Jennifer is struggling to conceive — the first try fails, the second works — Jenna is trying for her own conception, which highlights gay and lesbian couples reliance on technology to realize their dreams of parenthood.

The high price of such technology is never mentioned: Pic is thus stronger at the beat-by-beat account of this single birth rather than in addressing the larger topics it naturally raises.

Vid lensing is TV-ready pro and slick, with Symons’ multiple camera crews often put to good use. Editor Terry Schwartz pulls the various strands together with discipline. Discovery Health Channel broadcast is titled “Men Having Babies: Beyond Conception.”

Beyond Conception: Men Having Babies

Production: A Persistent Films production for the Discovery Health Channel. Produced by Johnny Symons. Executive producers, Eileen P. O'Neill, Alon Orstein. Co-producer, Lindsay Sablosky. Directed by Johnny Symons.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), S. Leo Chiang, Gail Huddleson, Peter Logreco, Symons; editor, Terry Schwartz; music, Norman Arnold; sound, Alex Beckstead, Symons, Jacob Walker; animation, Nicole Tostevin; associate producer, Leah Wolchok. Reviewed at Outfest, Los Angeles, July 9, 2006. Running time: 75 MIN.

With: With: Jenna Franet, Jennifer Franet, Bruce Gilpin, Paul Moreno, Dr. Guy Ringler, Jade.

More Film

  • Gay Chorus Deep South

    Why Airbnb Produced Documentary 'Gay Chorus Deep South,' Its First-Ever Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    The latest player to hit the film-festival circuit may be a bit unexpected: Airbnb, the travel-accommodations booking marketplace, developed, financed and produced documentary film “Gay Chorus Deep South,” set to premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on April 29. It’s the company’s very first feature film. Directed by David Charles Rodrigues, “Gay Chorus Deep [...]

  • Clint Eastwood May Direct 'The Ballad

    Clint Eastwood May Direct 'The Ballad of Richard Jewell'

    Clint Eastwood may direct “The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” a look at a security guard whose life gets turned upside down after media reports identified him as a possible suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. The film is currently set up at Disney/Fox and could reunite Eastwood with Alan Horn, the current Disney Studios [...]

  • Hagazussa: A Heathen's Curse

    Film Review: 'Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse'

    If “The Witch” had been directed by the early-career Werner Herzog of “Aguirre,” “Heart of Glass,” and “Even Dwarfs Started Small,” the result might have been something in the spirit of “Hagazussa,” Lukas Feigelfeld’s wholly arresting feature debut. Given the extended U.S. title “A Heathen’s Curse” to underline saleable supernatural elements, this enigmatic folktale-cum-horror is [...]

  • Alex Ross Perry

    Alex Ross Perry to Write and Direct Stephen King's 'Rest Stop' for Legendary

    Alex Ross Perry will write and direct Legendary’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “Rest Stop.” King’s short, first published in Esquire magazine in 2003, won the national magazine award for fiction in 2004, and was later included in King’s 2008 collection, “Just After Sunset.” The movie is described as a propulsive cat-and-mouse thriller [...]

  • Hobbs & Shaw trailer

    'Hobbs & Shaw' New Trailer Touts More High-Intensity Fights

    A new “Hobbs & Shaw” trailer packs in the international action with fast cars and high-intensity fight scenes.  When the first trailer dropped in February, viewers were introduced to the genetically-enhanced villain Brixton, played by Idris Elba, as well as a newly cordial relationship between old enemies Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason [...]

  • ralph Fiennes WHITE CROW Directing BTS

    Ralph Fiennes Examines Rudolf Nureyev's Complicated Life in 'The White Crow'

    The story of “The White Crow,” Ralph Fiennes’ latest directorial effort, is as topical as anything currently sitting on the desk of a studio head. It tells of a rebellious artist grappling with his sexuality during turbulent political times rife with tensions between the United States and an agitated Russia.  But though the upcoming film, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content