Dickens’ doc exposes need for paid Family Leave law

Ky Dickens, “Zero Weeks” director

Award-winning director Ky Dickens has been filming a feature documentary about the need for paid family leave since her daughter, Harlow, was born in June, 2014, and she and her spouse struggled financially and emotionally with “not enough time” to spend with the newborn.

Although Dickens worked for “a wonderful company,” it was a small business its mandatory two weeks of paid leave was inadequate and the existing unpaid federal Family and Medical Act would not work for them. 

Struck by the family hardships and dire consequences caused by lack of a guaranteed paid family leave law, Dickens set out to produce  “Zero Weeks,” which makes a compelling political and economic argument for Family Leave benefits.

Dickens’ 10-year old Yellowing Productions is the production entity, with producers Amy McIntyre, her associate of 14 years, and producer Alexis Jaworski, in partnership with Conspiracy post.

DP is Michael Ognisanti, a director at Dictionary.  Music score is being composed by LA-based Rachael Cantu, who has worked with Dickens on previous docs.

Dickens got to work filming interviews after Harlow’s birth last year, concentrating first on new mothers, like the female bus driver whose financial circumstances compelled to get back behind the wheel just two weeks after a C-section birth.

Interviews ramped up considerable this summer. “We filmed 30 to 40 people, including the US Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (R-Ct) who wrote the Family Act, and policy makers, economists and activists,” she says.

Currently “Zero Weeks” features seven individuals whose stories are being told in depth “and we’re looking for more subjects,” Dickens says. 

One of the stories is about a Palatine family whose life spiraled out of control. The husband had cancer and consequently lost his job. His wife lost her job because she was taking too much time off to care for her husband. The wife and her 18 year old daughter are homeless and the teen is has left high school to support her mother.

“Zero Weeks” will wrap in summer, 2016, and it’s in the final phase of a Kickstarter campaign

“We raised $25,000 of out $75,000 goal so we can complete production; follow our subjects who are at a crossroads in their lives as they must choose between caring for a loved one or keeping their jobs. It’s very emotional,” she says.

Currently, three states – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island have enacted paid Family Leave. and Dickens is working with Family Values at Work, a 28-state consortium, “to roll out an impact campaign so the documentary has a powerful influence on advancing paid Family Leave.”