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Local film hopes to spark conversation on mental illness

In a story that unravels as much as it unfolds, Mother's Day puts familial bonds on display and to the test.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A feature film made here in Western New York by Western New Yorkers premieres at North Park Theatre Friday. 

In a story that unravels as much as it unfolds, Mother's Day puts familial bonds on display and to the test. The film is centered around a son going to his mother's house on Mother's Day, and she's letting him know she's made some huge life changing decisions very impulsively. 

With the help of loads of volunteers, Western New York filmmaker Travis Carlson brought this film about a conversation to the big screen in hopes of sparking more dialogue about a subject often kept out of the spotlight.

"Mental illness remains something that we still sort of put on the person as fault," said Travis. "It's a person as opposed to, they're just sick, and they need treatment, just like anything else whether it's medication or a doctor's help. So if we can at least help people talk about it or recognize or identify."

It is certainly easy for Travis. This conversation is one he had with his mother five years ago.

"It's when I sort of understood that there was something different happening," said Travis. "And at some point, there is a transition point where you go from recognizing them as healthy to recognize them that there's sickness involved."

Writing down what happened on that day was one thing, but the decision to make it a film was quite another. One that came after another conversation with his mom. She ultimately gave her blessing in hopes their story would help others, but told Travis the film was something she would rather not watch.

"It's so brave of her," said Travis. "And I mean, I feel like I'm just sort of like a storyteller, a messenger of that."

Adding to the intensity and intimacy of the story, Travis chose to film Mother's Day in one continuous shot: a task that took hours of planning and rehearsal to execute.

"The reason we chose to do it this way is because when you are in a conversation, you just can't cut away or take a break," said Travis. "It's just you have to talk your way out of it and find the solution."

Mother's Day premieres Friday, June 18th at Buffalo's North Park Theatre with a full on red carpet event. You can learn more on North Park's website by clicking here.