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Filmed in WNY: Mother’s Day premieres at North Park Theatre

A powerful new film is making its marquee, red carpet World Premiere at the North Park Theatre on June 18th. The project, Mother’s Day, is a WNY feature film in that it was shot and produced regionally.

“Over this last year of pandemics, politics and playoffs we stepped it up and made our first feature film,” said filmmaker Travis Carlson of Pan-American Film Division. “It’s a true, dramatic story of mental illness affecting a mother and her son. [There will be] a week of screenings before going to NYC for a screening in the Museum of the Moving Image.”

As for the film itself, Carlson said, “We hope this grassroots, largely volunteer project will help raise awareness around mental illness and its impact on loved ones. As well as being an original piece of culture made in and by Western New Yorkers. The film stars multiple Artvoice award winner Lisa Ludwig with Michael Charles Wagner and is filmed in a real-time, continuous shots (the longest unbroken shot in the film is pressing an hour).”

Based on a true story of the Writer and Director, Travis Carlson, Mother’s Day was filmed over the Covid-19 pandemic by volunteers from Pan-Am Films and the local theater community.

I asked Carlson if the continuous filming was planned from the start (as part of the concept), and he told me that it was not initially intended.

“We did two test versions,” he responded. “A continuous and a traditional version, to see if the single take was possible. It turned out to be possible, and engaging. It was definitely a challenge, however, in a good and bad way. We knew that if we could pull it off it would feel real and ambitious. We were going to have to rehearse it like a play – the editing decisions were going to be made pre-production, which meant putting a lot more work into the film in the front end.”

Production was one thing. The nature of the emotional content was another.

“The idea stemmed from two places,” noted Carlson. “The team had done short films before. We knew that we wanted to do a feature film. We needed to find out what would be obtainable and meaningful. For me, the idea was a personal experiment that I had been developing privately. It was transformative in my life, and meant a lot in my family, as my own mother needed special love and care. We had to pack that emotion and thematics into the film, while adding something to the world. We also had to find (approachable) talented actors and filmmakers, as opposed to a multi-million dollar budget, which we did not have.”

Carlson oversees script as Rizzo films Wagner in rehearsal. Photo by Cole Bielecki.

Filming on a budget is always difficult – filming during a pandemic compounds that difficulty.

“We were planning on crowdfunding because it’s an independent film, but due to the pandemic it felt uncomfortable,” said Carlson. “So we got together to see if we should postpone it… or table it. The consensus was let’s make it and do our best with volunteering time, and paying out of pocket. That was a huge risk that amounted to the downpayment of a house. But we got tremendous support from the Buffalo film and theater community. Everyone banded together. In the end, we had a 30-day fundraiser to cover some of the hard costs. We met our humble goal in 24 hours, and doubled that goal by the end of the campaign, so that no one ate any significant costs.”

Carlson listens to Davies and Rizzo from camera team. Photo Cole Bielecki.

Carlson said that aside from the ambitious nature of the project, the heartfelt topic, and the rollercoaster of a ride, he is most proud that the film was shot exclusively in WNY.

Visit the website for more details.

Visit the North Park Theatre’s website for information pertaining to the world premiere of Mother’s Day, as well as additional screenings.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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