‘Nigh, Mother’: Indie films that’s equally innovative and haunting
The Covid-19 pandemic has altered the way that everyone from filmmakers to actors to audience members interact with film. Many movie and television show productions were shut down, and some had to find inventive new ways to continue filming. Audiences are now more used to streaming their favorite movies & shows from the comfort of their own home.
A new indie production analyzes the isolating effects of the pandemic while also taking an opportunity to present a different kind of film than anyone has ever seen before. Night, Mother, directed by John Patrick Lowrie and produced by Sheila Houlahan, was put together and presented on the streaming platform Twitch. Using a live-stream platform typically reserved for gamers is a unique move inspired by current events.
Night, Mother adapts a Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 play from celebrated playwright Marsha Norman. The play was adapted into a film in 1986, but this current production updates it for the 21st century, and especially for the post-pandemic world we all live in now. Night, Mother is a drama that deals with isolation, past trauma, and suicide, and the team behind the film handled the subject matter with care. Explore the film now.
Heavy source material
Marsha Norman’s play Night, Mother is not for the faint of heart. The play depicts a night shared between a mother & daughter. The daughter tells her mother that at the end of the night she intends to kill herself. The two of them spend the night (an hour in stage time) trying to relate to each other and to get at the heart of what’s wrong.
Over the course of the play, several family secrets and long-hidden feelings are revealed. Despite all the discussion that occurs, the play ends with the daughter going through with her decision and shooting herself. Grim as that sounds, the play was well-received when it first debuted. The production was nominated for four Tony Awards, and the script won Marsha Norman a Pulitzer Prize.
The team behind this new Night, Mother film updated it for our modern age. The film was broadcast on Twitch, and it used a mix of pre-recorded backstory segments and live performances from the two lead actresses, Ellen McLain and Sheila Houlahan. Its unique presentation could set the bar for a new form of live performance in a mostly digital age.
One of the first major concerns about the story that the filmmakers had to deal with was its sensitive and potentially triggering material. That motivated the decision to put the film on Twitch, an interactive platform where the filmmakers would be able to have a post-viewing panel which gave audience members important information about mental health resources available to them.
Night, Mother isn’t the first film since the start of the pandemic to attempt a new form of storytelling in a socially distanced environment, but it is one of the most successful strides forward that we’ve seen yet. More than just a cultural object of its time, Night, Mother is a brilliant display of the creative abilities of the people who created it.