Filmmaker and father Angelo Lobo exposes the devastating effects of the American divorce industry in his amazing new documentary, “Romeo Misses A Payment.”
Through interviews with parents, attorneys, judges, and other law officials on all sides of the issue, the film explores the complicated world of divorce and child custody through interviews with common folks; some perhaps even like people you already know who believe they’ve become just a number and not a name.
“Romeo Misses A Payment” is controversial, insightful and at times heartbreaking. But through all of its harshness, Lobo’s film encourages us by showing that there is hope. “Romeo Misses A Payment” is a must-see documentary for both parents and other concerned citizens.
I spoke with Lobo about “Romeo Misses A Payment” and what we can do to help raise awareness about what’s going on in our court systems.
What inspired you to make this documentary?
My story is similar to all of the millions of other ones about non-custodial parents. It got to a point to where I just wanted to take the pain and emotion that I was feeling at the time and turn it into a positive to help other people. I started thinking about the power of video and knew that if I could show some of these emotions and touch on what people were actually feeling, then maybe people would start a discussion.
The problem is, no one really wants to talk about it; or if they do they automatically feel that the non-custodial parent is somehow a “bad” person. Saying things like “What did you do wrong?” or “You must not be paying” or “You’re not a good person” when most of the time, that’s not the case. A lot of the time you have normal, everyday people who are feeling tremendous pain and heartache and aren’t able to talk to anyone because the climate has been built against the non-custodial parent to make them feel like they’re not a good person.
How long did the film take to complete?
I started the project back in 2006. I bought a camera and just started going around to courthouses and filming. I just wanted to get as much footage as I could and interview as many people as possible. And it was the same heartache story: “I can’t see my kids”, I’ve got to pay this…” The judge ordered this..” It started to get overwhelming. That was when the parent organizations found out about what we were doing and came to us and said, “You know, we’ve been trying to do something like this for the past 15 years.” And before long, people started emailing and calling. Doing whatever they could to send us in the right direction.
Did you find that a lot of the people you interviewed were eager to discuss their situations?
I think when a non-custodial parent finds someone who’s willing to listen and can relate to what they’re saying, it’s almost a relief that they can talk about it. That’s what we found. People were sharing with their hearts what was happening, and that in turn helped us move forward with the movie.
Was there a reason you chose some of the cities you visited? Like Dallas, Texas for example.
At the time, Dallas had one of the highest rates of incarceration for a failure to pay child support. That’s what brought us there at that time. The worst part was that these were average citizens who, because they weren’t able to pay $2000, were being put in jail with rapists and murderers. It was hard to believe that it was happening. How is the system helping parents by doing this?
Did you ever risk being arrested yourself during the course of making the film?
In a few interviews we were escorted out once they found out some of the questions we were asking, but the goal was the same. We had to keep moving and bring awareness to this and realize that one court document can ruin an entire family. I’m not saying that the courts aren’t trying to do their best. The fact is, they’re overwhelmed with a lot of cases.
What would you like people who are going through this issue to take away from watching this film?
I want them to realize that they’re not alone. There are other people out there who are going through the same issue, but there’s hope. We’ve got a great resource page on our website where you can reach out to organizations close to home. Stop and take a couple of deep breaths and know that you’re going to be ok, and your kids are going to be ok too. Just being able to talk to someone and not holding in the pain is a step in the right direction.
What do you think are some of the things we can do to solve this issue?
I think we really need to look at the laws that are in place. It’s a non-partisan issue so let’s have the legislatures really look at it and determine what the best interests are not only for the country, but for the children who grow up in it. Right now there are a lot of bills out there, but I think we should focus on the education end and maybe teach people who want to get married that certain things could happen down the road. Make sure that they’re really ready and also how to be good parents. Things that can benefit them before a disaster. Look at ways to strengthen things to create a better home for children. My hope is that this film will bring about that dialogue.
For more information on Romeo Misses A Payment Check out the Official Website