Photo credit: Vlada Knowlton

Photo credit: Vlada Knowlton

Local filmmaker Vlada Knowlton is saying what many people are only thinking – how do working mothers balance it all?

In her aptly titled documentary, Having It All, Knowlton explores what it means to be a working mother while balancing a professional life, marriage, and children. The film was produced by Women in Film/Seattle (WIF) Board Member Ilona Rossman Ho and ParentMap is sponsoring a screening on May 18 at the Town Hall in Seattle at 5:30pm, followed by a special lecture from Dr. John Gottman on ‘Making Love Last and Marriage Work.’

Washington Filmworks was lucky enough to sit down with Knowlton to discuss the project, how it impacts both genders, and possible legislative attention.

Washington Filmworks (WF): What was behind the decision to make Having It All?
Vlada Knowlton (VK): 
There were two things behind the decision. Firstly, I wanted to make a film and this particular topic was really close to me personally. I thought that it was the best type of topic at the time for me to get started in filmmaking because I understood it so well from a personal perspective. I thought that if I started with a film I’d be passionate about, I’d be sure to follow through with it until the end. Secondly, I’m a working mother – a working person first, rather, and when I became a mother I knew that wouldn’t change. I keep finding over and over again that women realize how tricky it is to keep working when becoming a parent – something quite prevalent in Generation X, as they keep running up against this surprise. And it is challenging!

But I’ve figured out how to make it work fairly well. When you have your first child initially it’s quite difficult and people are often afraid to talk about it because they think, “why wasn’t I prepared?” The truth is no one is prepared, because we’re a transitional generation – one of the first that attempts to juggle lives at both the office and at home.

WF: What will men get out of Having It All?
VK: Quite a bit, actually. I’ve seen men relate to the men in the film but also the mothers – a high-level executive at Microsoft, for example, who saw the film said he was glad he saw the personal experience of working mothers because it made him empathize with the ones he works with more. It made him want to ensure that he’s being considerate and meeting their needs as employees.

I also think men will relate to the family obstacle, the issue of how you juggle a full-time job of parenting and full-time job of having a marriage. Men and women see that these people are doing three jobs at the same time – without the cooperation and partnership between both parents, it can’t be done. There has to be an understanding that they must work together. There is no blame game in the film, no one is pointing fingers at one gender or the other – the film just explores that it’s a complicated challenge.

WF: You are also a WIF member – what is it like having their support?
VK: Having WIF’s support is fantastic, any support is great because you don’t want to be isolated as a filmmaker. The more support and help you get along the way, the better. They helped with feedback and supporting me online via social media – when you have people like WIF behind you, you can keep going.

WF: Legislators are attending the screening. What was behind the decision to invite them?
ParentMap was interested in inviting elected officials. This topic is a social issue, as it touches upon government policies regarding families. I can’t help but feel that this is a story in which they can contribute to the discussion; policy makers are probably very interested in the important subject matter. We want to bring this issue into their conversations – ParentMap is interested in helping the policy-making process in regards to aiding families, and it certainly makes sense from both ends. It’s so important to remember that storytelling and filmmaking intersect often with government issues and policy-making.

Washington Filmworks congratulates Vlada Knowlton on her documentary and its premiere. Check out more about Having it All on the project’s official website – and buy tickets here! ParentMap hopes to continue screening the film as part of an upcoming series.


Vlada Knowlton is an independent filmmaker living in Seattle. Through her company, Marymoor Productions, she has been writing, directing, and producing short films and music videos with a vibrant Seattle-based indie film community. Prior to becoming a filmmaker Vlada worked at Microsoft. She holds a B.Sc. in Psychology from McGill University and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from Brown University.