From Executive Producer and Creator Sheila Houlahan, "Night, Mother" is a Webby Award-winning cinematic experience: a "hybrid" film exclusively on Twitch.tv.
Opening Weekend Viewership: 24,000 views
"The bafflement and conflict on display are riveting." -- Benjamin Franz, Film Threat
With a message centered on mental health and suicide prevention, the premier fell within National Suicide Prevention Awareness month and was followed by a live-streamed panel to benefit the Take This Org with notable guests such as Clint Borgen (President of The Borgen Project)and actor/celebrity streamer Khleo Thomas.
Interweaving pre-filmed segments shot on Kodak film with live-streamed performances, this film was assembled in real-time on September 24th, 2021 by Cinematographer Trevor Roach.
I am a suicide attempt survivor. During the darkest hours of my personal mental health journey, Marsha Norman’s “‘night, Mother” was the show I kept returning to over and over again. It was a lifeline, and I credit this show with saving my life. In short, this story, Norman’s story, is my story.
In 2020, Ellen McLain brought this play to my attention as something for us to workshop together quite casually, as two actresses looking to keep their skills sharp during lockdown. Immediately I realized this show was more relevant than ever before, and that it was our duty to adapt this show into a proper, modernized film format. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire world was suffering from symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, and I knew the world needed to see stories like these to heal.
I became consumed with an intense desire to actualize this story into a new type of “hybrid” media. Audience members in the 21st century want to be a part of the storytelling process. I knew that if we could bring the magical intimacy of live theatre to a cinematic format, this specific retelling of Norman's play would come alive, sparkle, and, most importantly, potentially help save lives.
Enter Twitch. From the beginning, I knew this film couldn't be simply screened on Twitch. As a platform, Twitch offers a fantastic and unique opportunity for including the audience in the storytelling process through an active and innovative live-chat feature. To capture the unique essence of theatre, I wanted the majority of the storytelling to happen in real-time, interwoven with pre-filmed segments that were edited together during the live performance in front of our audience. As a result, a much more passionate, intimate, and meaningful product was created and experienced for both the creators and viewers alike. It was a collaborative effort in the most literal possible sense.
By the same token, I knew a “hybrid film” of this nature would be immensely triggering. As we shaped and reshaped the story and experience of hybrid storytelling, I began to brainstorm ways to tangibly care for the audience and keep them safe while exposing them to the harsh reality of suicide. Rather than leaving the audience devastated at the end of the film, I wanted them to feel empowered, cared for, and validated by this experience holistically. As such, the post-show panel was born, and, in my opinion, continues to be an integral part of this piece.
With this goal in mind, my incredible team slowly curated a list of authentic Twitch influencers brave enough to share their own experiences, affordable and accessible help-seeking resources that viewers could instantly tap into while viewing the premiere, and CEO/Founders of incredible mental health-focused nonprofits that directed viewers to additional resources and also get involved in the movement of de-stigmatizing suicide. The result was thousands of viewers expressing their gratitude at being included in a “life-altering” experience, both on Twitch and across all social media platforms.
Thank you for visiting this page and supporting our project. May this experimental piece be an inspiration to folks who are looking to find different, innovative ways to tell stories, and may it serve as a reminder that those of us who walk in darkness are never truly alone.
Resources for those in crisis after watching the film:
http://gameshotline.org/ is available for folks who are survivors and is staffed with game-literate professionals. Text “SUPPORT” to 23368 to get started.
- For emotional support specifically related to COVID-19, call the Disaster Distress Helpline (800-985-5990), or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
- For those experiencing a suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741).
- For those who identify as part of the LGBTQ community, call the TrevorLifeline (866-488-7386), via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Help , or text START to 678-678. The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7.
- Take This provides a comprehensive list of international emotional support helplines, therapist directories, online therapy resources, and online harassment support resources at https://www.takethis.org/mental-health-resources/.