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Home Film “M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters)” premiered at Arena Cinelounge on 13 – 15...

“M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters)” premiered at Arena Cinelounge on 13 – 15 March 2020

By Patrick Donovan – Author/Screenwriter
US Navy Disabled Veteran – 1980 – 1991
Seattle, WA (The Hollywood Times) 03/14/2020

“If you’re a parent with a teen out of control and to the point where you are terrified then you need to see this movie.  My wife and I are going through something similar as this was hard to watch. We sought help and you can too. You are NOT alone in this. There are a number of resources at the bottom of this review and is a place to start.”

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– Patrick Donovan

About the Film:

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Written and Directed by: Tucia Lyman

Of the film’s genesis and release, Lyman said, “I’ve always been intrigued by real-life horror films that use the dysfunctions of society as a vessel to explore the truth. M.O.M. is a work of narrative fiction, but much of the behavior, scenarios, and dialogue were borrowed from the journals and publications of real-life school shooters and their parents. It is a very confronting film, much like the subject matter itself, and I hope it will contribute to the national debate surrounding mental health stigma and gun violence in America.”

Produced by: Elaine White, Austin Porter

Starring: 

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Bailey Edwards as Jacob
Melinda Page Hamilton as Abbey Bell
Ed Asner as Dr. Howard Arden

The Synopsis:

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Melinda Page Hamilton as Abbey Bell and Bailey Edwards as Jacob

A distraught mother (Hamilton) suspects her teenage son (Edwards) is plotting a school shooting, but when he slips through the cracks of the system, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. After installing an elaborate spy camera system in their home, Abbey captures a series of disturbing videos that confirm her worst fears. 

Torn between a mother’s unconditional love and a mother’s acute intuition, Abbey caters her videos to all the other “mothers of monsters” online. Abbey’s plan backfires when Jacob uses a dark family secret against her, launching both mother and son on a terrifying, and ultimately deadly, game of cat and mouse.

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The Review:

Sounds bother Jacob Bell.  He throws fits in his room, throwing things, punching walls and his mother will not give him his PlayStation back.  Abbey lives in Parma, Ohio, a mid to late 30’s woman dealing with an unruly, defiant and disorderly teen. Jacob is…she thinks he’s going to…do something.  She find’s things that shows her that Jacob is planning something horrific, but is he? She reported him two years ago and her son provided a rational explanation for every offense. It figures, right?

Ed Asner as Dr. Howard Arden

Constantly on the move, Abbey has put him in therapy and is worried that she will be the proverbial “boy” who cried wolf.  But the problem is: The boy who cried wolf, got eaten by the wolf.

Jacob blames his mother for cutting up her 7 pairs of shoes when in reality, Jacob did and projects what he’s done. But is it psychosomatic projection? What if Jacob is ok, a super kid? Is this happening to you?  Does your child play a lot of video games, spending 5 – 6 hours a day or more shooting people normal? Is that normal? Maybe it is? Is it?

Jacob makes fun of old people. Feels that all old people should be killed off.  His mother has been video recording her son since he was a child. She’s overly obsessed with recording everything.  If she doesn’t return his PlayStation, he’s going to rip her F***G jaw off. [NOTE: From Tucia after previewing this document: “Interesting he zoned in on one of the lines that the film borrowed from a real school shooter! That line is from the journal of Columbine shooter, Eric Harris.”] He comes home. She wants him to pay her back for her destroyed shoes and if he signs a document, she’ll give him his PlayStation back. He begins going through a closet throwing things, terrifying his mother then goes into his room throwing a tantrum.  She’s asleep when he comes out and covers her up… a seemingly wonderful child thinking of his mother. He apologizes when she wakes up. She knows. He kisses her then takes his leave of her. She sobs.

Do you have “two” children? The fake child and the real child? I’m going to relate to you my REAL LIFE STORY. I’m going to get personal because sharing this matters. I have “two” children. My grandson. He’s been abandoned by his mother 5 times in his 14 years on this planet. My wife’s adult daughter is his mother and she’s only been with him for 1 and half years, total! My wife and I got non-parental custody of him and we provide everything for him. Healthcare, food, clothing, and most of all, LOVE.  He’s failing school, bullies others, gets in fights, is violent, doesn’t care about how his room looks, punches holes in walls, nearly busted through his wood door to his room, threatens us, my wife and I, and we’ve had to call the cops. Then he gets calm when they arrive, relaxes… all fake. Are you disrespected, humiliated and treated like, well you know, shit?

Are you going through this and more with your teenager?  We had to put him through At Risk Youth program here in Washington State and when he went to the court, he lied to the judge, of course.  Says he would comply. He’s been removed from the High School and put into an alternative school. This accomplishes a few things: Checks his behavior; Isolates him from the rest of the student body which helps him focus on his studies rather than being distracted by his peers “IF” he actually went to school.  He only has to go twice a week and the rest of the time he can work from home.  He’s not even doing that! Is this happening to you, too? Does your child smoke behind your back, do drugs and deny it? He lies through his teeth and because he does it so much, you begin to doubt your own thoughts? Seriously!  We do! This happens to us and if it’s happening to you, too, then you need to get someone to intervene. Does your teen steal from you? Does the school just say, “Don’t let this type of thing bother you,” “Just open a line of discussion with your child,” “Don’t worry, these documents of discipline only in his school file until he’s 18.”

Does your child make you feel terrified like you don’t trust them? Do you feel that your child is controlling your household then feel like you’re being told that “you’re” the problem and not your child and that this is ALL YOUR FAULT? 

This film hit home for me. It really, really hit home. What really didn’t hit home was the obsessive behavior that Jacob’s mother (Abbey) displays with her putting hidden camera’s everywhere. This film scared me!  The one thing that I have going for me is: my grandson’s not on medicines and we have taken steps to circumvent his behavior. We’ve been assigned a case worker and she’s assigned us to a Family Counselor. But they are so over tasked that the counselor hasn’t even called yet.  We have to go back to court on the 13th of April when the judge reviews our grandson’s progress.  

Abbey watches in horror

The system is failing us people. Our grandson won’t go to a counselor and when he did two years ago, he said, “All she wants to do is talk about me. I want to know about her.”  He quit going. He hates crowds, never was like that when he was younger and feels that disrespect is earned not respect.  This logic is terribly flawed.

The theories that Jacob states, like my grandson, are rationally intelligent but logically flawed. Jacob doesn’t want to go to college but is talented and would excel, just like my grandson. He manipulates people and then laughs at them for the way he treats them, just like my grandson. Our grandson should go to school and should go to college but like Jacob, there’s no interest.  We are trying to help him the best way we can. We blame ourselves. We keep saying, “It’s our fault.” Is it our fault? Is it your fault? Who is failing who? 

Have your child’s physician discuss with you the possibility of them having one of these disorders with ODD being the newest one.  Get help for your children. We can all help each other and make sure that we, as parents, love our children and show them that we can have a loving and trusting discussion that’s open, transparent (on both sides), and safe.

View a short clip on Women working with Women by Tucia Lyman

Mothers of Monsters Interview with Tucia Lyman and Bailey Edwards (Son of Anthony Edwards)

Listen to the Actual Interview with Tucia Lyman and Bailey Edwards

Pat Donovan: Hello, Tucia? It’s Italian, isn’t it?

Tucia Lyman: You know, it’s really funny. People always think it’s Italian or European. I had a crazy dad he just made it up.

Pat Donovan: Pleasure to meet you.

Tucia Lyman: Pleasure to meet you. I read some of what you wrote there and I was really impressed at what you’re going through.

Pat Donovan: Is anybody else coming in or is it just you?

Tucia Lyman: Yeah, Bailey’s coming. Let me, um, text to make sure.

Pat Donovan: Okay, great.

Tucia Lyman: By the way,  Bailey texted me, and that he is finding a quiet place right this second and then so he’ll call it in a minute.

Pat Donovan: He’s amazing, like wow, scary man.

Tucia Lyman: Do you know that he is Anthony Edward’s son?

Pat Donovan: No kidding!

Tucia Lyman: Well, you know, we didn’t know that. Yeah, yeah we didn’t know that when we cast him. He was, we thought, he was a no name. We saw a lot of kids. We saw, you know digital auditions for over 400 kids and then it did, you know, in person auditions and callbacks and chemistry callbacks and uh, he didn’t tell us. He never told us who he was and we ended up, uh, basically bringing him on board and that’s what he told us, cause he didn’t want to get the role, um, based on, on who his father.

Pat Donovan: He’s from ER!

Tucia Lyman: Yeah, he played Goose! Anthony Edwards.

Pat Donovan: Oh my God! You see the trailer for the new top gun?

Tucia Lyman: I did, yeah!

Pat Donovan: His son is in as: Rooster.

Tucia Lyman: Yeah, exactly. So I love it.

Pat Donovan: I worry about Ed Harris

Tucia Lyman: What’s that?

Pat Donovan: Ed Harris Looks like he was death warmed over in that movie. He’s pretty old. [Patrick chuckles]…Ed Harris…

Tucia Lyman: There’s no CGI that’s giving him a digital face lift.

Pat Donovan: Oh, no. But anyway. Yeah. You don’t mind the little talk beforehand. Tucia, I don’t want to say it wrong. Too-se-yah, Right.

Tucia Lyman: You know how I tell people to remember it like, like it’s good “to see ya.”

Pat Donovan: Good to see ya! It’s cool. I love it.

Tucia Lyman: Siri, Siri still pronounces my name, Too-sha!

Pat Donovan: Oh God…

Tucia Lyman: So, uh, for Halloween, I dressed up as “Fuchsia Toosha”. My private joke on, on my relationship with Siri.

Pat Donovan: Oh my God. Can I mention his father in this or no?

Tucia Lyman: Sure.

Bailey Edwards: Hi, Bailey here.

Pat Donovan: Bailey, how ya doing, man? This is Patrick. Nice to meet you!

Bailey Edwards: Oh, hi.

Pat Donovan: Just talking to Tusha about, or Tucia. I’ll get it right eventually, about that your dad is Anthony Edwards. How cool.

Bailey Edwards: Yeah, I’m actually with him right now.  We just got to Colorado for a little ski moment before…

Pat Donovan: Oh my God! If it he wants to jump by and say hi, we’d love it. That’d be great. How’s he doing?

Bailey Edwards: Yeah, I do…, I’m, he’s great. He’s great. You know, he’s in, he’s in New York and I’m in LA, so we

Pat Donovan: Cool.

Bailey Edwards: Oh wait, you know I’ve got, um, I have three little sisters.

Pat Donovan: Nice, nice…

Bailey Edwards: We constantly be seeing and hanging…

Pat Donovan: Yeah, this is great!

Tucia Lyman: So  you guys are skiing together in Colorado now though?

Bailey Edwards: Yeah.

Tucia Lyman: Okay.

Pat Donovan: You know, I haven’t been to Colorado since I was in the Navy in 1982 to 84. It was in the Rocky mountain Navy is what they called it, and a lot of fun. Well, here it is, um, the questions for the interview. There it is. [Patrick is searching his computer]  Okay, well listen, nice to meet you. It’s a pleasure. I thank you for attending the conference call. I feel it’s vital in helping to bring attention to this topic and the fact that I lived through something like this, as you mentioned, that, uh, it’s so very important that we have this, this is discussion. Excuse me. My tongue got tied… So, start out by telling us, um, what drove you to make this film, Tucia.

Tucia Lyman: Okay. Well, you know what, I have always gravitated towards films that sort of delve into the darker side of humanity, and, um, I think that the horror thriller genre really gives, um, the filmmaker a unique platform to do that. Um, I mean, honestly, one of the main reasons I wanted to make this movie is because as you know, we as a country are kind of experiencing an epidemic of, you know, what I’d like to call youth violence instead of gun violence with, that, that manifests in school shooting and, um, you know, there was not a single studio in Hollywood that wanted to touch that subject with it, with a 10 foot pole. Um. And, you know, I tried, I tried a lot. I reached out to a lot of different studios and, uh, eventually we found our own funding.  But I, you know, I honestly think that, that is part of the problem, actually. I think that we do need to be talking about this stuff and not just in the aftermath of a shooting. Right? I mean, if you need to be talking about this before these tragedies happen in order to prevent them from happening.

Pat Donovan: Correct. I agree with you.

Tucia Lyman: Yeah and you know, it’s not, it’s not easy stuff to talk about. And I think you know that your experiences as well, there’s a lot of ‘em. There’s a lot of stigma around mental health, and there’s a lot of pressure, I think, in, in America, in this country, to maintain this facade of normality, right of, of potential, of success, right?

And until we have, you know, the courage to be truthful about what’s really happening behind closed doors, then I think that we’re a part of the problem and I think that we perpetuate the problem. Um. I mean, in, in 2019, we shot the film in 2018 and there was a ton of school shootings while we were actually filming.

Um, and in 2019 there was something like an average of one school shooting per week in this country and that’s, I mean, that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the number of shootings that are occurring in our neighborhoods and in our streets and in our homes every single day. But, you know, the minute that we use the word shooting, the conversation becomes about guns.

Um, it becomes, you know, the same old politicized argument that divides us and nothing changes because I don’t think that enough people. Are talking about, uh, what, what might actually be causing these kids to use guns in the first place? I mean, there’s a, there’s a lot of things that go into it. There’s the left argument and the right argument and everything in between.

And, you know, is it video games? Is it over-medication? Is it easy access to military grade weapons or, you know, racism, single home parenting or addicted to technology. There’s a million things that we can say are, are attributing to the problem. But you know, I, I feel that, that there, those things are, are symptoms of a much deeper problem and I think it’s, it’s much more human than that and I think it’s a, a lack of. Compassion and a fundamental breakdown of communication within the culture of this country. You know what I mean?

Pat Donovan: I…

Tucia Lyman: …and its…go ahead,

Pat Donovan: No, I agree.

Tucia Lyman: I ramble by the way. I’m a rambler

Pat Donovan: No, it’s okay. And I want to, Bailey, I want you to weigh in on this because we’re going to deviate from the questions cause Melinda’s not here. But as I sat there watching you, it was like… I was scared! I was glued to the screen! I was terrified! When your character said “rip your effing jaw off,” it was exactly what, um, we’ve heard and you know, you gave an incredible performance man.

Bailey Edwards: [humbly] Thank you

Pat Donovan: Um, your dad should be proud of you. Let me tell you, man. Um, and the look in your eyes are evil and then in the room that you’re at is like… We’re dealing with this in our own situation here, you know?  So how did you prepare for your character and describe what you did to get in to that  part.

Bailey Edwards: Yeah. Well, you know, I started sort of with the, like, you know, the Genesis point for so much of this, this now is sort of like fetishized culture of shooters and this world by, I’ve just started by reading like #DaveColinsColumbine, which is like an insane portrait of that first sort of like…. nationally, like attention grabbing, shooting that sort of became really a genesis point for so much copycatting and then, I mean, luckily we had a couple, we had like a month between when I initially was told I got the part and before we even started rehearsing that. Tucia, could sort of feed me like, a steady stream of journal entries and articles and my own personal, terrifying deep dives into #4Chan and #Reddit and these worlds and where these people are, and these young men disenfranchised men, are sort of coalescing around these can be really horrifying ideologies.

And really, even more specifically, I started looking at, um the sort of the videos and manifestos left behind by the #UCSBshooter. Um, and, uh, it’s sort of this sort of relationship that he almost developed with the camera and with his own image outside of himself and the control that he had in terms of what he was saying and how he was presenting himself and how he was talking himself up almost through the cameras. And there’s a big part of this movie, not to give anything away, that had to do with Jacob. What to what level is Jacob performing? To what to what level is Jacob, cause he’s a prankster and he’s tricky. Like to what level is this to him? To what level is this that he wants to show the world?

And so I, that became really critical for me, this relationship too, that Jacob himself has with screen Jacob in terms of, and I think you know, for us right now in this world of #TikTok and #Snapchat and #Instagram and this constant relationship we have to our digital selves, that’s kind of where I like honed in for Jacob, which is what is the, what is the almost sociopathic relationship you then have between seeing yourself and performing yourself on a screen in front of you? And then Tucia wrote a brilliant script that made it easier to be terrified.

Pat Donovan: Oh, Yeah!

Bailey Edwards: I mean, the second I read it, it was one of those situations where you’re just reading those words and you can feel that character is just coming to life inside of you.

Pat Donovan: Oh my God. It’s like, you know, it talks about the debate about wanting to hope that your film does that, about the dysfunctions of society, of a family, the teenage mind, a vessel, uh, for what it leads up to potential extreme acting out, like at school shootings, like you’ve said, and in our country’s past and you know, they could totally immersed in these games and you know, it’s just like…you know, it’s how do they disconnect from reality? They immerse themselves into a simulated world where they feel comfortable. And now, I mean, I grew up in the 60s and we didn’t have that. We went and we played with our friends down the street, and my father whistled for us when it was time for dinner. And you know, we did, we had human interaction. And, you know, it’s just like, how do we get by all this? And you know, I was watching you and you talk about that Bailey, about how Jacob was enamored by his camera self and when you took the, you know, and did that thing across your chest I’m not going to say it, but it was like he was watching himself, you know, Tucia can you both talk about that?

Tucia Lyman: Mmm. Do you want to start Bailey?

Bailey Edwards: Um, no. You just, you can. Okay. Go for it.

Tucia Lyman: I mean, I mean, it is, I think that there, there are a lot of things that we can do as, as parents, as, as just people. Um, and I think that, you know, sure, we can limit kids screen time because, you know, being glued to an #XBOX or a tablet or a screen all day long creates… it does create this sense of isolation. And I think that kids aren’t learning basic problem solving skills. I don’t think they’re learning how to cope with real life complex you know what I mean? And…

Pat Donovan: Exactly!

Tucia Lyman: You know, there’s different, there’s all kinds of solutions, I think. I think the low hanging fruit, you know, to keep kids from shooting other kids in schools is to regulate access to military grade weapons but I don’t think that’s the, the answer. I don’t think that’s the long term answer, um, I think that the long term answer has a lot more to do with us as a society. It has to do with communication and education and there are, you know, there are programs, there’s, there’s a social, they call them #SocialEmotionalLearningPrograms (#SELP).

Um, and these are things that we can implement, I think not just in our schools, but in our communities. Right? It’s like we as a society need to learn how to manage our, our emotions. I don’t think it’s about fixing our kids I think it’s about changing our approach and realizing that we have just as many triggers as our kids have I mean, our kids listen, kids are going through changes. Their brain is developing, their bodies are developing, the being flooded with hormones, and it’s an awkward time. And if we allow them to trigger us and we’re not setting an example for them, right. So I think it has very much to do with us learning how to manage our own emotions so that we can communicate with them so that we can, we have the space to listen to them you know what I mean? Um…

Pat Donovan: No, you’re right!

Tucia Lyman: Yeah. I mean, this is not an isolated incident that you may be going through with, with your family or someone I know, maybe going to their family. There’s tens of thousands of families that are going through this. I, we, we’re talking about it because there’s so much stigma attached to it…

Pat Donovan: And they’re afraid!

Tucia Lyman: And yeah, they’re afraid you know? I understand why they’re afraid. It’s the difficult thing and you think you’re a bad parent or you know, there’s all kinds of things that come along with it. But at the end of the day, if we’re not talking about it, then we’re really just perpetuating it. You know?

Pat Donovan: Exactly. And Bailey, talk about that again, because how old are you right now if I can ask please.

Bailey Edwards: I’m 26.

Pat Donovan: Okay. So you went all through this when in your teen years, and you know, we’re fighting because we’ve got our own kids and everything, and you see the change, the transformation, the, the defiance and you know, I was told there’s a brand new thing called #ODD, #OppositionDefianceDisorder.  Um, I had never heard of that, you know, and it’s pretty wild. Um, they just defy everything, uh, won’t go to school, they don’t care uh, and these are the things that we’re facing here as parents. So how could, how did you make it through and how was, you know, not to get personal because hey, look, this is the way it is, but how did you make it through the teenage years and. How about the great guy that you are now as opposed to going through what we’re going through? You know what I mean?

Bailey Edwards: Yeah. Well, I mean, you know, I come, you know, come from a really loving, supportive environment and also when I, you know, my struggles and things have been very different when I was a teenager, but I also had access to be very different from Jacobs but, you know, I, I had a therapist and I had access to like, great mental health services that we’re have, that would help me through my darkness and struggles that sort of pervaded my teenage years and you know, above all, you know, like I think therapy is, you know, for everyone.

But I think, I mean, beyond all that, you know, like it’s a tricky, if it was an interesting thing cause it was kind of an outside/in situation for me where, you know, like I did grow up in a social media age and I did grow up in around these things but I also was a Waldorf kid growing up. So I was like, before high school, I was like completely screenless and I’ve never, I never owned any video games or was even allowed to play anything remotely looking like a video game growing up.

So there was a way in which even approaching this character, it was like kind of an anthropological study for me, um, cause it was, that, that world is kind of a world that I was and kind of still remain, somewhat unfamiliar with. But I think that it’s a really, I think we get into, I think that’s really, really tricky right now, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot because of the difference between, you know, like when I was, you know, like I was smart, phones were just, were like coming into fashion when I was little.

But it wasn’t the same thing where it is now we’re in. It’s a really, really tough thing for, I think, parents and for all of us to tell kids to put down their phones and to tell kids to like live out in the world when they also see that’s what we all do all the time now. You know, it’s a tricky thing for a parent to not be limiting a kid’s iPhone time when it’s our maps, our news, our… the way we communicate our #FaceTime, our everything is through these devices now that have now sort of, invaded our lives and come to define it in a certain way? And  you know, but like just Tucia said, there’s no one easy solution here.

Pat Donovan: Oh, you’re right, huh? There’s not and…

Bailey Edwards: …and… I don’t, I guess the only thing I would add is that, you know, like it is, I think I’ve, you know, a lot of people I know, and a lot of them smarter people than me have been talking about how moment in time really does feel like a, a moment of consequence and a moment of consequences coming to bear. And whether that’s, you know, history of like massive , racial injustice in our world and the discrimination against the LGBTQ community or the, the delight, our failure to take care and to properly educate young men about how to handle, like how to interpersonally handle their relationships with women who have young men. And like there’s so many levels of which we’re in this moment in time. It’s really come to the, or even just take our planet for this instance, the responsibility that we have there and, and the damages and the history that we have to take care of. Um, it feels like this moment in time is one of the consequences. And we’re at, we’re seeing played out for the first time really what happens when these things. All of them go unchecked.

Pat Donovan: Yeah. No, you’re 100% right. And there are a lot of things that have changed. I’m 60 and I grew up, like I said, in the 60s and a seventies gosh, I don’t know how I made it through the 80s I’ll never know. But you get the idea. It’s just completely different, man. It’s not the same. So, um. But listen, I want to switch gears.

Tucia Lyman: There’s one thing…

Pat Donovan: Go ahead. I’m sorry to…go ahead.

Tucia Lyman: No, I, there’s one thing I wanted to say, which is that, you know, I don’t, I don’t want anyone to get the impression that this is a social movement film. It’s not. First and foremost, mom is a deeply disturbing psychological thriller. But I do think there’s a reason why horror films like #GetOut and #Parasite are winning Academy awards right now. And I think that has a lot to do with underlining social themes, that they’re sort of nesting in a genre that appeals to a much broader audience, a typically younger audience, that horror thriller audience.

And it’s making people think about these issues and talk about these issues and that’s, you know, that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to make this film.

Pat Donovan: Ah…

Tucia Lyman: Sure. But it’s a dark film, and it’s not about. A school shooting. It’s not even about guns. It is about it. I wanted to humanize it more and, and this is the movie that really is about the breakdown of communication between a mother and a son that has the propensity to produce a school shooter. You know what I mean? Like, like, let’s look at it before it happens.

Pat Donovan: The thing about Melinda’s character is that I got the sense that she was going goofy, you know? See, because it’s like she was so obsessed. What’s videotaping everything about her son, Jacob? Man, I think she was going overboard, and I think it also contributed to what Jacob was going through. Could you talk about that a little.

Bailey Edwards: Yeah, I mean, you know, to even to piggyback on what Tucia just said, at its core really, you know, there’s so much there is, yes, there’s so much social, there’s a lot of social commentary and stuff, and, you know, looking at an epidemic and, uh, clearly a problem inside of our country right now, but at the end of the day, this story has an eternal and forever aspect to it, which is the interpersonal struggles between family members and between a mother and son. And it’s almost like, and in our case, it’s almost classical and epic Greek tragedy proportions of what happened in the, you know, the tricky flip side between love and hate and terror and fear and connection and the breakdown of connection in inside of the very specific dynamic of a mother and son.

Pat Donovan: Yeah.

Tucia Lyman: Patrick, to answer, to answer your question about Melinda’s character, I mean certainly her, her acting is superb. She doesn’t go overboard in the acting, but the character itself is not dissimilar from other moms out there who have had these kids who have committed these atrocities, right? I mean, if you look at Adam Lanza’s mom, like a lot of her behavior, her profile, and certainly Jacobs, but hers, the mom’s profile is based off of Adam Lanza’s mother, and you know, the mother, the parents of the Columbine shooters and, and people who have written memoirs and who have struggled with some of these issues where like Adam mans, his mother you know, the way that she connected with her son was taking him out to gun ranges.

She couldn’t communicate with him. He was addicted to technology, and he also was, was unstable. Well, there’s an argument to be made that she was unstable to do. You know what I mean? And I think this opened up exploring that. Like, is it genetics? You know what I mean? In this movie, uh, Melinda’s mother is obviously in denial, but what, what, you know, some things that happened in the family before the movie even began and you start to see this pattern, this generational pattern that happens that is happening in real life.

You know what I mean? So, yeah, we, we pushed it to, to its limits. We had her, you know, go through the emotions of that all by herself to the point where. It completely flipped, meaning she is the one who ends up with an intimate relationship with those cameras and screens. Instead of having that relationship with her son.  You know what I mean?

Pat Donovan: I saw that and you know, I began to question who was really the crazy person, you know, who was really the person going through the internal hell and did her son bring that out and show her, you know, and the turmoil between the cat and mouse game in…this is unbelievable. God. So…

Tucia Lyman: Yeah, I mean, it, it was, it was really fun. This roller coaster ride of, of going back and forth between who’s crazy, who’s crazier, who’s controlling the narrative here. Uh, it, it was fun to watch. I mean, even watching Melinda and Bailey in there, in the essence of their characters go through this. I mean, we were all in Video Village looking at, you know, we’re watching the monitors and we’re still mesmerized because they’re really going through it. You know what I mean? And it’s, it’s, it’s scary and it’s profound.

Pat Donovan: Oh, absolutely. So I’m going to switch gears a little bit.

Bailey Edwards: I was just gonna…

Pat Donovan: Go ahead,  I’m sorry. Go ahead.

Bailey Edwards: I was just gonna throw out a little Melinda love because really like, I really don’t think I could have done anything without any of this without her. She was so. Because at the end of the day, this mother son dynamic at the core of the film, I just really lucked out in Melinda and I just, you know, we both grew up in New York City, we happen to have like a lot, you know, children of actors. We happen to have like, share a lot of fundamental, basic stuff right from the jump and, um, she also super, super, took me under her wing in a way that, you know, gave me the safety and security. So then of course, completely lose my mind into character. But I had such an amazing ally and really like such a natural mother-figure to gravitate towards on that set.

Pat Donovan: Yeah, she was, good. Well, listen, I want to switch over to gears a little bit to jump into like an inside the actor’s studio. So tell me about both of you, um, what are your passions, your pet peeves, your loves, what are your happy places? Let’s start out with the lad, Tucia.

Tucia Lyman: Oh gosh, let’s see. Um, well.  I’d have to say that I, I’m probably passionate, most passionate about, about contributing to life, and whether that’s as simple as through a conversation with my niece or more complicated, uh, and making a film. Um, I think I, you know, I think I do have the tendency to be a little manic at times, but I’ve also, I’m also aware of my own mania, which allows me to regulate as a bit, um, and I think I look…I make fun of myself a lot, and that’s my way of letting, you know, the people around me know that I, I know I can be a handful.

Um, and , you know, I love them for loving me, but I, I would say that, you know, I always have a lot of projects going on at the same time. I work a lot. Um, I don’t see it as working, but, but people around me do. So I, I try to be cognizant of that. Um, I’m, yeah, I’d say my happiest place is writing, directing and editing and working with people who are as passionate about it as I am. Um, that’s probably my happiest place is when I’m, when I’m creating.

Pat Donovan: Great…Bailey?

Bailey Edwards: Yeah, probably married somewhere. I’d say that like, I guess my sort of caveat would be the, you know, like I love the space of collaboration. You know, I grew up in a theater world where it was, you know, everybody coming together to make something, hopefully magical and so. Whether that, you know, like as a result, I’m like a big, like I love cooking and probably some coming from big family, like love cooking with people, love sharing and who would involve lot, be out when I’m not, you know, ideally acting and performing and writing and working on things with other people I love.

Other loves, I guess um, I really love roller skating and other collaborative spaces come into my life in the last couple of years of being in LA. Um, because, yeah, finding, you know, especially, I mean, it was even during the storm itself, that WIOA skating even came into my life in a big way because I can, finding space for joy and happiness and freedom and ability to just be in your body and dance, you know, can go a long way when you have to play like crazy going like Jacob.

Pat Donovan: Yeah, I, you know, you spoke to my heart. I mean, Italian and I love to cook, so we should have a cook-off like, you know, beat Bobby Flay type thing. Um, listen, we’ve got a few minutes left.  I listed a bunch of organizations below but what more can we do to help you with regards to teenage behavior, violence issues and try and circumvent what could or may happen? Do you see a path of redemption for these kids? And also can we give them something else besides her electronic closing themselves in their rooms like hermits? There’s about 10 minutes left.

Tucia Lyman: You know, I think I may have answered this one a bit with the social emotional learning programs, but…

Pat Donovan: You did…

Tucia Lyman: …I do think that it actually starts with, with changing where we’re coming from and, and changing our approach so that we are like, listen to, my nephew was a gamer, is still a gamer and he wouldn’t come out of his room and it was driving my sister nuts and I couldn’t get him to come out because he felt, you know, I’m imposing on his space.  He doesn’t want to come out. What are we going to talk about? So. I went in there and I learned how to play his silly shooting video game and I had a lot of fun. And then the more I played it with him, the more we talk, and then pretty soon he was interested in going on a walk with me. Do you know what I mean? It’s like, that is,

Pat Donovan: Wow, I got to do that. Bailey, what do you think? I mean, this is amazing because you’re 26 but I’ve never tried that you know, here [with my situation with my grandson], and maybe that’s a path we need to take.

Bailey Edwards: Yeah. I mean, I think, cause you know, like, you know, I grew up in a world of phones and computers and you know, like that’s, you know, like it is a language that I just, generation… generationally happened to speak. Um, and you know, it can get, I think it can get reductive and limiting to teenagers and young people to be told, you know, you’re on your screens too much. You’re on, you’re in this old world and you’re not connecting to people’s love up. But the fact of the matter is, for a lot of them, that is how they connect to people and there is a way in which real community can be found in there for them and I don’t, I think that, yeah, I completely agree with Tucia, you know, like coming down and meeting on that level and understanding that, that space means something to these kids, and as a result of you can, it’s, you know, it’s a simple thing that like, we don’t think of because of, um, we don’t think of applying this here, but it’s like the best way to ever be with a kid of any age is to like be into what they’re into. You know?

And I think that, you know, like that’s a little joyful and hopeful when talking about disenfranchised and really troubled young men. But I think that there’s a level of fundamental compassion that’s missing here and a fundamental desire to connect like that. It’s clearly what you know these individuals need and crave and want is that connection and this just so happens to be the only way they’ve been able to find that connection. But it doesn’t mean that they can’t. There aren’t new ways or new ways to learn or find their way through that.

Pat Donovan: You know, both of you just may have found a solution to what I’m facing.  and I’m so grateful to you, both of you, because I’d never even considered that path of saying: Hey, look, there’s a couple of Dr. Peppers. Let’s play.

Tucia Lyman: Yeah.

Pat Donovan: You know, it’s like I don’t, we’re all separated. I’m here at my computer, I’m a programmer all day long by day and a writer by night and my wife says to me, “you love that computer more than you love me.” You know what? Sometimes…I’m on here too much, or am I…I’m looking at the trash on my desk or near it and I tell my grandson, “clean your room,” and he looks at me, “Papa, you got a mess on your desk and you’re telling me to clean my room?” He’s right.

Tucia Lyman: Right.

Pat Donovan: You get it. So listen…

Tucia Lyman: Yeah. I think it really does come down to asking yourself the question of…

Pat Donovan: …are we setting the example.

Tucia Lyman: Exactly! Exactly. It’s like, how can I, not, not how can I change my kids, but how can I change the way I communicate with my kid. How can I talk when I come from a different place? You know what I’m.

Pat Donovan: Exactly. Exactly.

Tucia Lyman: I was committed. If I was to make a movie about how social emotional learning could change the consciousness of this country, uh, it would end up on PBS, right? Psychological thriller.

Pat Donovan: A Bill Moyers special.

Tucia Lyman: Yeah, so I didn’t want to do that, you know? I wanted to make a psychological thriller that people would go to the theaters and see and be stimulated by, cause God knows we were used to simulation and that afterwards they might be left with a little, you know, [huh?] moment of how, how, how is this actually a reflection of how I’m living or what my life looks like or how I’m coming to him with my son or my mom or whatever it is you know what I mean?

Pat Donovan: Yeah. Yeah. It’s amazing. Listen, I’ve had the pleasure of talking to the both of you. Um, I’m blown away. I shared a bunch of different contacts for immediate help. One of them is the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma, and I’m going to say…

Tucia Lyman: They’re one of our partners.

Pat Donovan: They are? Wow! Okay, great. And there’s also the Youth Care Center, Discovery Based Behavioral Health… I can post all these in the thing on the review, um, which is actually up there. I’m going to add the transcript to this in the actual audio recording for our low vision and blind, you know, readers. That’s kind of the contradiction in itself, but you get what I’m saying?

Tucia Lyman: Okay.

Pat Donovan: I interviewed, go ahead…

Tucia Lyman: Okay. I was just going to say that they’re, the, two of the organizations that we partnered with. One is NPIV which is the National Partnership and Interpersonal Violence and then I that, which is the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma and they can be reached at: 858-527-1860. There are people and resources out there that can give us help that are trained in this, in this work, you know what I mean? In this space.

Pat Donovan: Absolutely. I appreciate that, and I’ve got all the contacts below. Um, there’s evolve. And plus the Newport Academy (www.newportacademy.com), which is across the country here, it’s a non-lockdown facility from coast to coast and they take insurance and they have the scholarship program. They have nine people to a pod. It’s for teenage boys and girls to help them through some of the difficulties they’re facing. It’s a great place. So, um, listen, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you both. Any last words Bailey?

Bailey Edwards: Um, no I hope, you know, I wish you all the best with your grandson that was really hardcore to hear about, and I’m really sorry to hear that, but it sounds like, you know, you guys are doing everything that you can, and I hope that continues to, you know get stronger and better and anything else and, you know, I guess there’s a weird way that I was just, you know, in the end of our conversation, I was just thinking about, you know, one of Abby’s lines, but it’s so deeply kind of ironic and lost and kind of the thing, which is, you know, you can still talk to your grandson, talk to him.

Um, and you know, of course, you know, she never really, she failed to see the way in which, you know, she spies and sneaks and manipulates her way around her son and never really actually talks to him.

Pat Donovan: There was a couple moments where she tried it didn’t quite work…

Bailey Edwards: Well too. Yeah.

Pat Donovan: Well, listen, you both have a great day. May I have your permission to retain your number or text you or something cause I want to talk to you about something else. Is that okay? Please. Privately?

Tucia Lyman: Yes, absolutely. And you know what, Patrick, I just wanted to acknowledge you for having the courage to talk about what you’re going through with your family cause that’s a good example.

Pat Donovan: I’m also…thank you…I’m also depressed and I take medications. I’m not afraid to say that it’s been helping me and working through the veterans administration and everything like that. So, um, I’m doing well.

Tucia Lyman: Good, good to hear. There are all kinds of social workers and licensed therapists and the medication that can also help. But, um, I think talking to you about it and communicating about it is, is a really good start.

Pat Donovan: Thank you so much. Listen, both of you have a wonderful day. I look forward to speaking to you again and have a great weekend.

Tucia Lyman: All right. Thank you.

Pat Donovan: Thank you.

Bailey Edwards: Thank you. Bye.

Questions for Melinda Page Hamilton (non-voice interview)

Patrick: Melinda your performance was stellar and Melinda, the way that this was portrayed gave me the sense of urgency and that you were teetering on the edge yourself, your character, forgive me. I saw you as becoming so obsessed with what Bailey’s character was doing or what you perceived he was doing that your character seemed to be falling into the abyss.  Can you explain how you felt when you were given the part and was there anything in your past that you put into this character and why and how you prepared for the part?

Melinda: Thank you Patrick for your kind words. Yes, I was very excited when I read the script because I do think it touches on some very timely issues. I don’t think there’s a parent in the world who doesn’t find the epidemic of violence among disaffected young men terrifying. And the increasing remoteness of our children during adolescence which is a necessary and vital step in their development is fraught with fear and unease, precisely because there is so much we don’t know and we have little control over. It is a time when children go inward and some children go through that period in a healthy way and some, like Jacob, not so much. So I do think it is a fertile ground for a horror film because that fear- of the unknown, of what might be happening- is universal, visceral and identifiable

Patrick: Mothers of Monsters talks about opening up a debate or wanting to hope this film does that about the dysfunctions of society, the dysfunctions of family and the teenage mind as a vessel for what leads up to potential extreme acting out like the school shootings have in our country’s past. My grandson is totally immersed in his XBOX with games like: Grand Theft Auto, Fortnight, and other first person shooter games. He’s been banned seven times and has made new accounts to bypass their terms of misuse.  His anger manifested this morning when we asked him to goal to school and I opened the door to his darkened room and he burst out, “WTF Dude?” I’m his step grandfather and he disrespects me, calls my wife, his grandmother, the C-word and B-word and threatens her. He did that today and his violence is out of control. We’re terrified. Please help me to understand what we can do, as parents, as a society to turn these kids minds around?

Melinda: I wish I had answers. I don’t. And I don’t think the film does either but it does initiate a conversation and that is a good start. I think the way the film charts Abbey’s increasing obsession is in its own way as scary as Jacobs increasing hostility- because in reality Abbey and Jacob are locked in a dance in which they both are exhibiting some very disturbing behavior and the audience doesn’t know which is the crazy one. That is also very fertile ground for horror, the questioning of your own perceptions and sanity when faced with extreme behavior. I do feel that in parenting, enlisting the aid of professionals when you feel out of your depth, cultivating a community of support with other parents facing the same issue are helpful strategies. Part of what is so upsetting and disturbing about Abbey’s experience  is her own isolation as she is dealing with this and her growing disassociation from reality as a result. Isolation is its own danger zone- as toxic for parents as it is for children in my opinion.

Patrick: I’d like to know more about each of you please. Outside of film and how you got into film?  What is Melinda, Bailey and Tucia like at home? What are your passions? Pet Peeves? Loves? And where is your happy place?

Melinda: I started doing theater in New York and moved to Los Angeles about 15 years ago. And thankfully unlike Abbey, spending time with my family is my happy place!

CU – Callous and Unemotional traits

NPD – Narcissistic Personality Disorder

ODD – Opposition Defiance Disorder

IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8186932/reference

Official Trailer:  https://youtu.be/X4gptDDZhkM

If you need help immediately, contact the following: 

The Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma: 858-527-1860

For other treatment facilities and options, please see below.

Also, contact the Newport Academy: https://www.newportacademy.com they have a non-lockdown facility from coast to coast.  I’ve spoken to them and they are wonderful. They take insurance and it covers most of the fees. Also, they have a scholarship program that will defer the balance of the costs if you qualify: 844-609-3635

Other residential treatment facilities are:

Youth Care: 801-396-5391

Discovery Behavioral Health: 714-322-6478

Willow Springs: 800-448-9454

Piney Ridge: 479-587-1408

Oasis (Arizona): 480-470-0069

Evolve: Call Marion Ross: 408-688-1827

Muirwood: 866-343-7735

BNI: Call Doug Jewell: 818-469-6139

When you call, let them know that The Hollywood Times referred you and that the original referral came from the Newport Academy.