Sophie Henderson on Baby, Done

Posted Wednesday 30 Sep 2020


Baby, Done follows Zoe (Rose Matafeo) and Tim (Matthew Lewis) who resolve to not let parenthood change them. But while Tim runs towards being a dad, wannabe adventurer Zoe is still determined to tick off a list of their wildest dreams before the baby arrives. Her increasing denial about her impending birth pushes her, and her relationship, to the limit.

See Baby, Done at a special WIFT NZ screening on Monday 19 October Click here for tickets!

We talked to Baby, Done writer Sophie Henderson about writing her semi-autobiographical film, and being onset with a baby!

A romantic comedy, Baby, Done is based on the reactions of writer Sophie Henderson and her husband Curtis Vowell, to suddenly being pregnant. "It was planned, but it happened so fast," says Henderson. "Writing it was my way of coping. I was freaking out about whether I'd have to give up my dreams [of writing movies]."

Early in the pregnancy the couple made a "wild" list of all the things they wanted to do before the baby came. "We didn't actually do a lot of those things, so we put them on screen instead."

Vowell, who is Baby, Done director, and Henderson, had their second child three months before the film's shoot was set to start. Henderson admits the experience of filming was hard and "quite a blur� I was living off very little sleep." She insisted on being on set most of the time, rewriting and, because there was some improvisation involved, ensuring people were honouring the script. Baby Sylvie slept in a hammock, and there was no shortage of willing arms to hold her or rock her back to sleep.

Family helped out with childcare, and producer Morgan Waru, and executive producers Taika Waititi and Carthew Neal paid for Henderson to have a nanny. Waru even came over to rock Sylvie to sleep while Henderson worked. Even the Film Commission's development schedule was in line with Henderson's due date.

Unlike many writers, Henderson says she was involved across the story the whole way through, sitting in on the edit too. "But I don't know how many writers get to do that if their husbands aren't the director," she jokes. "But they should. The writer is the boss of the story!"

Working with Vowel was "lovely and challenging" but Henderson says any challenges were outweighed by the "unfair advantage" of not having to call meetings for anything.

"We were big forces of support for each other and it was super-collaborative. I was super spoilt."

As well as being tired and more than a little emotional (she had a bit of a cry most days), another challenge was shooting the tree scenes. Henderson wanted Zoe to have a job that pushed the boundaries of what a pregnant woman could/should do, so made her an arborist.

"Rose had to learn how to do that, and in the trailer you can see she's really high up in a tree. The first time I saw her in her harness up a tree I had a little cry because I'd written that and so many people worked so hard to make it happen and it was happening. That moment meant a lot to me."

Henderson has worked extensively for Silo Theatre as an actor and deviser. She wrote and starred in the award-winning Fantail and also starred in the acclaimed thriller Human Traces

As well as being mum to her now four-year old and two-year old, Auckland-based Henderson is working on a pilot for a TV series called Wall with Michelle Saville and Chelsie Preston Crayford with Lisa Chatfield and Tim White producing.

Baby, Done is released in cinemas 22 October, 2020.