I’m always on the lookout for cool moms, and Kate Barton – actress, writer, and full-time mommy – definitely fits the bill. A friend of Kate’s got in touch to say, hey, you need to talk to her about her latest project. You can probably guess I get a lot of pitches like that but this one? Stood out. Specifically because of the title. Kate’s movie-to-be is called Pumped & Dumped – terminology that’s probably pretty familiar to a lot of the mamas reading this post.
So of course I called Kate to talk about Pumped & Dumped – the story of a mom who, post break-up, chases after her “pre-baby” dreams by forming a stand-up comedy mom band with her best friend. It’s not exactly Kate’s story, but she freely admits it’s not not her story.
Kate originally attended the University of Texas at Austin, pursuing a degree in Radio, Television, and Film, but that got put on hold after the end of a years-long relationship. And once she moved back home, she found herself struggling to figure out what she wanted to do. Long story short she ended up with a communications degree with a writing emphasis, but it didn’t feel right so she took a year off to get a handle on a path.
And of course, that’s when she met a guy. From Romania, which is where they conceived their son.
“It was definitely not planned and it threw a wrench into the plans I’d been making,” she said. “I mean, I didn’t have a definite plan but I knew I hadn’t gotten myself figured out yet, either.”
So there Kate was, kind of mindlessly applying to every possible job while also knowing that no one really wants to take on a pregnant applicant. Still trying to figure out what she wanted to do. For the first year of her son Milo’s life, she worked odd jobs – no closer to a career.
“And one day, I get yet another call turning me down,” she said. “It suddenly occurred to me that the last time I knew what I wanted to do – really wanted to do – was when I was doing film, so why not go back to that and figure it out from there.”
Kate started working on student films as an actress because it gave her a way to connect with the kinds of people willing to teach her and willing to help her. That’s where she ended up meeting her mentor, director Dan Steadman. And from there she started connecting with women who were passionate about mentoring other women in film through initiatives like the Citizen Jane Film Festival and Film Fatale. She found her place as producer, casting director, script supervisor, writer, DIT, and production assistant n a variety of projects.
And just like that, she’d figured it out.
Now Kate is actively seeking funding for Pumped & Dumped on Seed & Spark – if she meets her goal, she’ll automatically have a way to debut and distribute the film. And while I suggest you back this movie because it’s going to be a laugh riot a la Bridesmaids but for us mamas, she’s made it clear she is making this movie no matter what.
“The biggest struggle has been balancing my responsibility as a mom and a girlfriend with the need pursue my dream,” she said. “Every writer has that one story they need to tell and this is mine. This is my calling card and I’ve given up a lot to work on this film. I’m trying to raise a lot of money on my own but it’s exciting. It’s the first thing I’ve ever done that seems so much bigger than me.”
Of course, it’s also been a struggle to do all that while raising a son. While Kate would consider moving to NY or LA to pursue film full-time, living where she is now gives her access to plenty of support. The 14-hour days she’d inevitably be working in those cities just aren’t in the cards right now.
“I love what I do and it feels right, but when I’ve worked on bigger projects it has been so hard,” she said. “The one thing I can’t get back is time, and mom guilt can be so crushing. Am I taking time away from my kid? But I’ve talked to so many women who’ve said you’re always going to miss something. And what you are doing is going to make you interesting. It makes your kid interesting.”
What has been cool, Kate told me, is that there have been not only moms coming out of the woodwork to tell her she’s making the right choice, but moms who specifically tell her they’re proud of what she’s doing. And that means a lot because she doesn’t always necessarily feel proud of herself.
But she should! She has created a hilarious film about negotiating your identity post-baby. And that is a near universal experience for moms who, whether they’re working moms or SAHMs, have to re-figure out who they are after adding mama to their CVs.
Support Pumped & Dumped here!