Non-scheduled Motherhood Story

Happy Mothers Day!

As a celebration to all mothers working in film we’re sharing Iiris’ experience of becoming a mom last year 2021 – spending 6 months of her pregnancy filming abroad…


I’ve just started filming in Sweden. We’re working on a post-apocalyptic feature – largest I’ve had on my plate so far – and there’s a lot of moving elements. Though most of the projects are hectic and stressful at some point I’m surprised of how nauseous I’m feeling in the first weeks as I’ve never reacted to stress like that. We’re suspecting catering isn’t offering me gluten free food (I’ve got a celiac disease) and Aino is investigating this to keep me standing. 

Our On-set Nurse Niki gets me a pregnancy test I take in the office bathroom in the middle of out stunt rehearsals before leaving to shooting location. After that she books me a visit to the doctors for the coming week and I start moving the crew for lunch completely ignoring the fact it looks like I’ve got some company in my body. 

After around a week of getting things in order I’ve somehow accepted the fact of being abroad in the middle of a pandemic, surprisingly pregnant, without my boyfriend or basically anyone except my colleagues at work. Luckily they’re like a family – Aino handles everything with maternity clinic while I’m on set and books me a visit to sometime in April when we’re back in Finland. 

Aino reading facts of having a baby.

Covid-19 makes the weird situation even harder as my nausea looks a lot like virus symptoms and visits to Sweden with quarantines etc. make travelling difficult. I end up telling of the pregnancy very early to the Director, DP and my own crew. Aino, 3rd AD Richard and Key Set PA’s Alex and Dessi keep me alive by sneaking in snacks and carrying my apple box around so I can sit down as much as possible. 

I’m more tired than ever in my life. After getting back from set I’m laying on the hall floor of our apartment with all my clothes on for ages as it’s too much to even take my shoes off. I’m only getting by with pure mind force of not giving up on this project and my career – and a lot of good thoughts and help from my crew. 

In the end of 1st trimester we’re filming on location up north and 12 hour night shoots on ice with freezing temperatures take a toll on me. Niki sends me home on our last filming day on crew call as I’m having difficulty on even standing up. I’m hitting a low point – can I finish this film? Can my body really be so unfair it takes this project from me? 


Still in Sweden – after getting back to Stockholm we only have a week of night shoots left. My boyfriend comes over with our dogs after finishing his film shoot in Estonia. It’s like having a 5-star hotel service at home. He cooks, cleans, washes our clothes (Aino shares my flat) and I get to lay on the floor again with my clothes on but getting a smoothie on my hand the minute I step in and having the dogs cuddling with me. Yes I can do this. 

Last night shoot day we’re filming a long dialogue scene on a cliff by the sea with all actors sitting and talking for minutes. I’m falling asleep within every take, sinking in my huge jacket. It’s raining freezing slush and we’re all exhausted. I’m so very very happy we’re soon inside a dry studio.  

However the worst day hits me in the studio – mask makes me even more nauseous in interior locations. I feel and hear the disappointment of my supervisors on me. They’re laying the cold facts on me: we just need to make it well. I agree saying if I’m not capable of doing it I see no other choice than getting someone else in. Luckily it’s just another low point and we get around it. My body is still allowing me some flex for the next weeks. 

I’ve been revealing the pregnancy news to people in production when needed – luckily Niki takes care of lot of arrangements, talks through the new food limitations with catering and hides puke bags on my jacket pockets. I’m surprised how positive and encouraging especially the “big bosses” are. Only one person is suggesting me to instantly stop and step out. One out of dozens isn’t much. 


After entering the 2nd trimester I announce to the whole crew that I’m pregnant and that’s the reason I look rather bad every now and then. I’m getting a lot more encouragement and support on learning how to be less impulsive – soon I’m not let to carry anything and have help on all possible things I could need. Though it feels weird and even unnecessary at times, I’m touched. It’s not once or twice that I’m the first one to jump in to help moving set pieces etc. by a habit and our grip yells me to get out of there. 

I’m wrapping the project and returning to Helsinki on the 4th month of my pregnancy – and catch covid from the airport upon my arrival. What a treat! Suddenly me and my boyfriend are n a full-on quarantine for weeks. Nausea is slowly getting better fortunately so something’s easing up. I’m also seeing my family for the first time – in the mid-point of the whole process.


Though I managed everything until now me and Emma agree I should not take any longer projects for the rest of the year. I’ve been working on a couple of short films and commercials and plan on “taking it easy” over the summer. Well – plans tent to change.

I’ve successfully declined a bunch of projects I really wanted to participate realising it wouldn’t just be schedule wise possible. I’ve had very deep discussions with myself on what’s important in life and why do I love film so much and how do I somehow work on all this together soon. I’m getting a call from – again! – Sweden late May and am asked to run a feel-good film over July and August in Stockholm and Gothenburg. I reply “I’d love to, but I’m due 16.9. so it’s difficult” and the PM answers “oh, 16.9, we can work with that”. Somehow I’m forgetting most of difficulties I had earlier when shooting a film daily and promise to join for prep and first three weeks of filming. Emma rolls her eyes as again I’ll suddenly be travelling to Sweden for 1,5 months, now 7-8 months pregnant, alone, to work. 

As I’m now already very pregnant when entering the project experience is different than the earlier one. We’ve been very straight to everyone that it’s in universes hands on how capable I’m of things. Again I’m having the sweetest crew possible, gaffer keeps making sure I have a place to sit during each take and even Niki has returned to my life – she really is the fairy godmother if this child (and me)! I’m only missing the first 45 minutes of one day by visiting the local ER quickly to check if everything’s alright (it is). When coming back to the shoot I find our Director telling all actors I’m soon going into labour. He’s slightly disappointed I came back in one piece and no baby joined the crew yet. We all laugh at it.

On set with amazing Niki!

Once we wrap on my last day the Producer and her team have bought a lovely gift for both me and the coming baby. I’m filled with gratitude of having a chance to work on a team like this at this stage of my life. I’m truly feeling my career won’t be over soon. 

After arriving back to Finland I’m working on a week long shoot of a Bulgarian film in Helsinki and then starting up a short film for 2 days before giving it on to another 1AD. My last day on set is 2,5 weeks before my due date by filling in for a sick 1st AD on a TV series shoot. Week before I’m teaching at Aalto University for 5 days – what a fantastic way to pass time waiting for something to happen!


Our child came to this world 3 days late (time management genes obviously gotten from their DP daddy) and I’ve been at “home” for the last 8 months learning filmmaking isn’t as difficult as keeping energetic and sane with a newborn. To be honest I haven’t been missing work too much – everything’s been so incredibly intense I haven’t had the time to. 

I’ve been lucky to make a slow and steady start – I’ve been lecturing at Aalto University, Academy of Moving People & Images and YLE (Finnish National Broadcaster) of my work for some hours, jumping to set for couple of days here and there besides completing few breakdowns and schedules. I’ve noticed being tired has new dimensions after becoming a parent and filmmaking in the side is quite a combination. I truly am the most tired I’ve ever been NOW.

The child has visited shoots, tech recces, premiere, lectures and HOD meetings with me – loves walkies and attention, but prefers less people and hassle. Balancing with them, 2 dogs, filmmaker-father, little productions and this company on the side — well, let’s say I understand why people call these “the rush years” in Finnish. Sometimes it feels great, sometimes I’m questioning all my choices in life leading to this moment. But I fully agree on the fact someone said to me last year on a low moment: “Having kids is the one and only thing in life you’ll never regret.”

Ending in this thought, raising a glass to all kids and parents on this lovely spring day: hurray for family first and moms who save our asses time and time again (my mom is the best, just to point that out)!

Lots of love,


1st Assistant Director

Co-Founder of BBG

Lecturer & Film Teacher

New, overwhelmed and confused mom