Supporting the journey of motherhood, in style
Cody Greenwood

Filmmaker Cody Greenwood On Empowering Women On And Off Screen

Cody Greenwood is a film producer and lives in Byron Bay. We chatted to Cody about shifting her mindset around motherhood and work, her recent projects, and how she is celebrating women through film.

Cody Greenwood has always had a natural curiosity for the world around her and is inspired by the stories of others, especially those with backgrounds different to her own. “I inherited an insatiable curiosity and creative flair from my mother,” Cody tells THE INARRA. Her curiosity paved the way for a successful career in documentary filmmaking.

Cody was raised in Fremantle, WA by her mother, an artist and renowned children’s book illustrator, and her father, a writer. “Having always had creativity and exploration encouraged by my parents, I ended up attending a high school that was focused primarily on the arts, where I was able to really hone my filmmaking skills,” she says. “I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t completely and utterly obsessed with making films. Looking back now, I realise how lucky I was.”

As a film producer, Cody’s responsibilities are varied and span the entire production of a film, from start to finish. “My role oscillates between the business of film – finance, deal-making and negotiation – to the creative elements of film – working with editors, directors and cinematographers,” she says. 

“In the early stages, when we only have a script or the foundations of an idea, I drive the film’s financing so that we can bring it to life. As we progress toward production, I work alongside the director to drive the film’s vision, bring in the best team and work with investors. The multifaceted nature of the role is what I love most about producing.”

2023 was a big year for Cody career wise. She finished two feature documentaries for Stan, due for release this year – Otto by Otto and Renee Gracie.

“[Otto by Otto is] directed by my close friend, Gracie Otto, about the life and legacy of her enigmatic father, Barry Otto,” she says.

“The other documentary is about Australian supercar driver, Renee Gracie – a powerhouse in the motorsports world who faced extensive sexist criticism whilst competing in Supercars, which ultimately resulted in her leaving the sport altogether.

“Capitalising on the sexualisation she faced in Supercars, Gracie became Australia’s biggest earner on OnlyFans. Our documentary focuses on her return to motorsport in 2023, using the support of OnlyFans to re-enter the race.”

“I want to pave the way for other women in the arts so that they don’t feel the same fear I felt when I found out I was pregnant. I want the film industry to feel like a space that is welcoming to mothers and aspiring mothers.”

Cody’s career was going full pelt when she received some unexpected news – she was pregnant. 

Cody describes her experience of pregnancy as “an extraordinary and emotional journey.” She feels fortunate that she was able to fall pregnant but admits to struggling with the news.

“If I’m honest, my immediate response when I found out I was pregnant at five weeks was intense apprehension. I told the first few people I was pregnant through a flood of tears. What I realised in those early weeks was that an internal misogynic bias runs deep in my psyche, which had manifested in mental blocks. 

“I was consumed by thoughts of not being able to do what was inevitably going to be required of me, of missing out on work opportunities and the gut-wrenching and all-consuming fear of not being able to do the thing I love the most – make films.

“What I’ve appreciated the most about the journey of pregnancy is discovering my resilience through the unknown. I had to soothe my fear of being pregnant by challenging all of my preconceived notions of what my life might look like. 

“I had heard countless tales of women in film who had made the difficult decision to leave the industry to pursue motherhood, so I instead sought out expansive stories about what could be achieved. It was an empowering journey and I now feel so excited to become a mother.”

By confronting her limiting beliefs about motherhood, Cody was able to get excited about her pregnancy, but she also knows that the film industry is not conducive to raising a family.

“There’s still a long way to go in making the industry feel welcoming for mothers and mothers-to-be,” she says. “For the film crew, days on set are often very long and grueling, and films can take many months to shoot. There is also an expectation that film crew relocate for long periods of time during filming’. “In my line of producing, you often work on a project day in and day out for years until it is financed, often unpaid, so there is huge financial risk. This, coupled with the financial pressures of children, has made it a ‘one or the other’ scenario for many women.”

The industry is also heavily male-dominated, which can be difficult to navigate for many women.  In the early years of Cody’s career, walking into male-dominated rooms exacerbated her feelings of imposter syndrome, but a shift in mindset has helped her overcome self-doubt.

“Making a film is a team sport and the knowledge that my successes or failures are not just my own but those of our collective effort has given me the confidence to navigate the ups and downs of my career. I also make a conscious effort to celebrate my success and the success of others, knowing that it is a result of hard work.”

Cody Greenwood

Cody wears SIR The Label Azul Twist Top and Zara jeans

Cody Greenwood

Cody wears SIR The Label Ramona Wrap Halter mini and Zara jeans

Cody is prepared for the challenges that juggling motherhood and work will bring, and when it comes to her career she is “more ambitious than ever”.

“[I want] to pave the way for other women in the arts so that they don’t feel the same fear I felt when I found out I was pregnant. I want the film industry to feel like a space that is welcoming to mothers and aspiring mothers.”

One way Cody is empowering women is by building female-driven teams. “Almost every director I work with is a woman, so I’m extremely passionate about changing how we navigate motherhood within the film industry. 

“Falling pregnant has intensified this desire for change. I want to take my experience and those of women around me to find better systems that don’t exclude mothers. To have mothers pushed out of the industry is only to its detriment.”

Building a supportive network of women is something Cody also values in her personal life. She has a circle of women who she describes as “the most creative  and inspiring women…humble, dedicated to their crafts and above all, kind.”

“Anyone who knows me knows how much I value and cherish the friendships in my life,” she says. “I don’t know where I would be without my girlfriends. They are my constant, helping me navigate some of the biggest hurdles and keeping me grounded in my decision-making. 

“Recently, I lost an irreplaceable friend. She was my biggest cheerleader in life and my work. Throughout my pregnancy, I constantly hear her saying, ‘You’ve got this,’ whenever I have doubted how I might tackle what’s to come. I’m a firm believer that as women, we should be building each other up and never tearing one another down.”

Through creating documentaries, Cody explores self-confidence in women, especially body confidence. “Two of my latest documentaries, Girl Like You and Renee Gracie, contain scenes of women reflecting on their bodies, the changes they’ve made to their bodies, and what they would like to see in the mirror,” she says. “Both are directed by genius long-time collaborators Frances Elliott and Samantha Marlowe who convey the very personal yet universal struggle of self-confidence and self-love with so much grace. There is power in acknowledging these challenges and I commend the women in both films for sharing their experiences.”

Cody recognises the power of filmmaking for how it represents the pressure many people feel when it comes to looking and feeling good. “I think connecting with people is the key to feeling good and unlocking confidence,” she says. “The people I find most beautiful are the people who embody authenticity and truth.”

Cody personally experienced more self-confidence since being pregnant. “I feel proud and humbled by what the changes in my body represent,” she says. “Our bodies are incredible!”

In terms of her style, it hasn’t changed much since pregnancy – lots of bold prints, mini dresses and fun accessories. Before summer, she was living in a pair of baggy jeans two sizes up, and in the warmer months, sarongs have been a wardrobe staple.

“I’ve thoroughly embraced crop tops during my pregnancy,” Cody says. “I love being bump-out! Naturally, SIR. The Label, helmed by my two friends Sophie Coote and Nikki Campbell, has been a staple since the beginning.”

When it comes to wellness practices, Cody has some non-negotiables: morning beach walks with her partner Johnny and her dog Milo, and daily Pilates.

“I have been intensely protective of my headspace during pregnancy. I would listen to a podcast and if it didn’t resonate after the first five minutes, I would shut it off,” she says.

Cody also recommends mothers-to-be find resources that resonate with their journey. “One of the best things I’ve done throughout pregnancy was a hypnobirthing course. It shifted my thinking about birth from something that was all on my shoulders to an experience that is shared between Johnny and me. We had a lot of fun with it.”

Cody and Johnny will be welcoming their baby girl sometime in late February/early March, but aside from venturing into the exciting new journey of motherhood, Cody’s work schedule is also packed.

“On the day I found out I was pregnant, I received news that Screen Australia is funding a new company start-up I’m leading alongside fellow producer Dan Joyce,” recalls Cody. “We are launching a slate of documentary films in 2024, all of which are premium, global documentaries for an international audience. We are working with some of the best documentary talent in the world, and I can’t wait to get started.

“In February 2024, I’m shooting my first scripted feature film, Birthright. Our first day of filming kicked off as I marked 36 weeks pregnant – ha! The film is directed by superstar Zoe Pepper. It will be distributed by Madman Films in 2025.”

With so much to look forward to both personally and professionally in the next 12 months, Cody is looking forward to “relinquishing control and stepping into the unknown.”

Words by Ellie Wiseman | Photography by Kaitlyn Bosnjak

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