USC faculty member Gabriel Peters-Lazaro was the right person to produce One More Shot, a documentary about infertility and one couple’s emotional attempts to have a child.
Peters-Lazaro, who also oversaw the photography, has been best friends with the film’s primary subjects, Noah and Maya, since their undergraduate days at the University of California, Berkeley.
Now streaming on Netflix, the film is a story of perseverance and a candid portrayal of a reality too often ignored or trivialized in media.
The camera is watching
Before everyone had a smartphone in their pocket to document their lives, Peters-Lazaro recalls how he and his friends would tote cameras and make movies about their college lives.
“Filming things to make sense of them was a part of our social and academic life,” he said. “So when they started going through this process, it felt natural for them to tell me to bring my camera.”
The film spans a total of five years, from the first signs of fertility complications to the birth of a baby girl: There was no way of foreseeing what the journey would become when filming began — it was merely a form of catharsis for the couple.
The more the story grew, the more we felt like we needed to tell it.
“The more the story grew, the more we felt like we needed to tell it,” Peters-Lazaro said. “This movie is about stories that are not being told and voices that are not being heard. There is so much shame and judgment in this process, that many women suffer in silence while they go through years of emotional and financial turmoil.”
‘I knew nothing’
Gabriel Peters-Lazaro is a professor in the Media Arts and Practice Division at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He jokes about how fertility doctors’ appointments were very early in the morning, which allowed him to work on the movie and teach at the same time. Although Peters-Lazaro felt like he had some knowledge of infertility because his father was an OBGYN, he said that “Compared to the reality, I knew nothing!” Put in the simplest of terms, “IVF is hard core!”
One of the most inspiring parts of One More Shot was the way in which Maya and Noah met other couples who had gone through similar experiences: From in vitro fertilization to adoption to surrogates to egg and sperm donations, there were many people who had forged their own path to starting a family and wanted to talk about it
Peters-Lazaro noted that for the couples interviewed, “There was something emancipating in telling that story. It takes power away from the sadness and difficulty, and allows you to focus on the foundation of the story, which is love.”
Looking back, Maya and Noah would do it all over again. Their daughter, Mika, is now a happy and healthy 2-year-old who doesn’t let her parents sleep. She was conceived through embryo donation, and if you don’t already know what that means, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out.