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Synopsis: A Mother struggling with mental illness and financial strain mentions her plan to impulsively move across the country, again. Her Son learns with each question that he, alone, has literally one-shot to save his mother from a potentially deadly setback. We witness the true story of two complex minds fighting to find love, and their loved one, in the darkness.
Lisa Ludwig (Wendy)
Mother’s Day is first and foremost an honest portrait of a Mother and Son swept away by life-changing transitions and mental illness. It is based on my true experience with my mother.
Less than 2% of characters in film experience a mental health condition despite at least 19% of the United States population who actively experienced a mental health condition in 2019, prior to Covid-19. Of that 2% representation on-screen, about half of them were perpetrators of violence. Mental Health professionals and those who live with conditions consistently point out popular film depictions either trivialize or stigmatize mental illness.
Honestly, part of my difficulty in identifying a mental illness in my mom, was because my exposure to this entire branch of healthcare was as ax-murderers, horror villains, hospital-escaping comic roles, and every other extreme we still think of when someone says, “phsyco.”
My mother wasn’t that.
But she was this.
And ‘this’ was important, common and transformational. We want this film to be a deep dive into at least one accurate portrayal of mental illness.
So our goal, our very concept, was to start with reality and to always protect it. To not embellish or judge or create a hero & villain, and fictionalized plot. To just find and depict a quintessential slice-of-life that exposes audiences to this reality. The drama is inherent. We created a window for an outsider to witness, like Jordon, the nuanced depths of conditions to find clarity, if not sympathy. And for those that recognize themselves in either the mother or the son, they are not alone.
We believe that the closer we were to the raw truth the more audiences would connect, identify the gravity of the stakes and feel an impact to change.
That’s the story.
But how it’s told is just as transformational and tense. Filmed over a mile in a continuous, two-hour shot, viewers are embedded in the real-life locations of the event and witness two unbroken performances. As in the reality of life-changing arguments, you don’t get saved by an editor’s cut, or a montage, or coverage of the other actor – you have to constantly defend, attack and maneuver a path out.
So to capture it, we created the same conditions for the performers, filmmakers and, now, the audience. The tension, nuance and flow of the film become something both cinematic and dramaturgical; and unique. Pace, composition, ensemble performances, lighting transitions and 360-degrees of immersion in the environment all contribute to the special effect of storytelling in Mother’s Day.
Travis is a writer and independent filmmaker based in Buffalo, New York. In 2013 he graduated with honors from SUNY Buffalo State with a focus in writing and film after completing numerous student feature films in High School and college. While attending he circumnavigated the globe by boat, meeting a shipmate, Megan Gonsalves, who would become a producing partner on many subsequent projects.
For five years he created films, commercials and documentaries for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and numerous national brands. His work won over a dozen NYS Emmy’s. With Pan-American Film Division he adapted three feature plays to the screen and created over fifteen short films, two of which won international competitions earning entrance to the Cannes Film Festival SFC.
Travis wrote and directed Mother’s Day based on his own experience with his mother struggling with mental illness.