Patrick McCarthy Writes About His First Experience Filming Messages From Mom With The Messages Project
“I’m sorry. I’m just really nervous,” she said as she shook free of the tension.
“Don’t worry. Many people are nervous their first time in front of a camera.” I informed her, telling the truth.
I’ve always noticed that most people react the same way when in the filmed situation. They fidget, forget what they want to say, freeze up, and have a difficult time ignoring the fact that the camera is simply a medium of communication. So, what makes this woman any different? First of all, she’s serving a seven-year prison sentence. Secondly? Not much anything else.
She’s a mother, separated from her child, but the child was too young when she left to understand why. Then, The Messages Project, Inc., gave this mother a chance to say the things she has long bottled up while trapped in the physical manifestation of her crime. She lets her child know that she made a mistake and that she never intended to abandon her child, which she recognizes is exactly what she did. However, more important than this mother’s recognition of these mistakes, is the gift of the child watching the video and knowing that he or she truly is loved.
What I learned from sitting behind the camera and ushering mother after mother through the awkwardness of a first time filming is that they all truly do love their children, and the children will finally get an opportunity to hear it and see their mother’s face when she says it. They don’t get it scribbled down on a wrinkled letter, or only hear it through a scrambled call on the phone. They actually get their mother, full of life and regret, articulating the exact words that hurt the most. “I never meant to abandon you. I love you.”
One of the most essential pieces of equipment necessary at this filming was not the light kit or the back drop, but the box of tissues sitting to the side. Prison gives these women plenty of time to think about the repercussions of their acts, and often they realize either a little before being filmed or even right then as they speak that their children are also being punished for their crimes. And, as I sit there and comfort them out of their tears and back into their video message, I don’t know what crimes they’ve committed. But I never ask. I just watch as I witness a mother pouring her soul to a camera with the hopes that her child will be on the receiving end and know that he or she isn’t any different from other kids. They have mommies that love them too.