Life never slows down. It’s an anecdote that’s been shared for ages but one truly captured in “the Motherlode”. Theresa Gambacorta is an NYC based actress, writer, and director with “the Motherlode” currently in production. Centering around some of her own experiences as a mother, the web series is about the obstacles that come with being both a creator and a mother. Growth seems to be something that many perceive stops in your teens or 20s- however, through this cast of actresses 35+ plus we dive into the messy, tragic, hilarious, touching, and real life scenarios that have no age. Life never slows down and we can see already “the Motherlode” won’t either.
Here’s our interview with Theresa Gambacorta.
What identities do you hold?
I identify as a woman, a mother and an artist.
Can you give some background to your career in film?
I am an actress, director and writer who began in theatre. I have worked on-camera in commercials and film but this is my film directorial debut.
Are you self taught in any way?
Yes and no. I have had incredible teachers and mentors and believe that we are always evolving, so yes, self-taught in the sense that I am always open to learning and have taken the responsibility to hone my craft as a writer on my own through the practice of writing and re-writing- but no, I have had extensive training both as an actress and writer- and directing is an extension of those. Film is a new medium for me to work in as a director, so there will be a learning curve that will certainly come with learning on my own.
What does creativity mean to you?
It means being connected to Source and limitless possibilities of expression.
ON THE MOTHERLODE
What is The Mother Lode?
It’s a story of a woman’s journey of integration- an exploration of how we put back together parts of ourselves that we dis-own. It unfolds through a character who is having a particular experience with mother hood and grief. The two are not mutually exclusive- they are the same side of a coin. And Margaret, the character has to slog through a lot of shit that is triggered by her father’s death and this particular time in her life mothering her 3.5 year old. And sometimes we have to slough off the worst parts of ourselves to get to the golden nugget within- “the mother lode” – our whole selves. The beautiful core. But we wrap ourselves up in so many projections that it can be very funny. And absurd. Until you are forced to take a look at all of it and drop the mask.
How did you develop this concept?
It was inspired by my life as a woman and a parent. My love of deep, rich storytelling. And also my love of big, fearless funny stuff that usually hides deeper wounds.
The inclusion of the lingering ghost of the main character’s father is interesting- how does it fit into the lessons the main character learns?
Margaret rails against the way she was raised, she rails against the failures of her father, she rails against everything he stands for and she has fashioned her identity as a mother based on what she DOES NOT want to become; But she can’t run away from it. It is part of who she is. And Frank, her father is present in ” spirit” as an aspect of herself that she carries with her. I carry my father’s wounds.. we all internalize the wounded-ness of our parents in a way, when we become parents.. and you have to work really hard to let them go and not drive the bus. He is also there cause he is really funny. The final line of Season 1 that I think articulates the arc of Margaret and Frank is when Frank says to her “ The gap between who we are and who we thought we should be is really what gets you in the end”
Why did you choose a web series structure? What do you feel about the rise in power in web series?
I love the shorter form. It’s challenging to show more and say less. It’s wonderful! The more opportunities for people to self-produce inspired stories the better. We need stories – they heal the world and shine a light and it gives storytellers a medium to produce content with longer arcs but in shorter bites.
Why Seed & Spark?
I chose seed & spark because as a first time filmmaker I wanted to surround myself with a community of filmmakers that empowers women and diverse storytelling through the lens of women. It’s a platform that I could engage with and learn from and build community and support other like- minded storytellers. It is also my first time running a crowdfunding campaign and they offer amazing feedback and tools to run a successful campaign.
I also love that they look at film as a business venture that invites investors and supporters to join your vision- it’s not a plea for help, it’s a campaign to build an audience and offer people the chance to support and invest in your vision, which puts you in a place of state of empowerment ( be a part of what we can do!! We’re in it together!) versus a state of need (“help me, please”) .
The projects on the site and the varied narratives and stories are marvelous- I am really into following documentaries right now. And because it is an online subscription streaming service, as a member, for a nominal fee, you can choose for your monies to be contributed to a project of your choice. It is really an amazing platform like non other out there- a one stop hub for independent filmmakers who are pursuing crowdfunding for the first time or tenth time. It’s pretty amazing, really to sit back and watch something you supported reach their goal, shoot and then perhaps 6 months or a year later be released through streaming on seed and spark. You are part of a larger arc and that excited me too!
What are ways you stay refreshed while balancing motherhood?
There is no balance in motherhood- that’s a lie. If there is a mother that has her life in “ balance” I want to meet her and learn her secrets. Truly my “refreshment” is really about “replenishing”- motherhood is extremely demanding emotionally and physically and the well runs dry by end of day and that can get toxic. I also work three late nights a week as a maitre d. So, my replenishment is connecting to my writing and creative self. Being connected to Source and the gift of storytelling. I am at my most joyful when writing, re-writing, shaping , rendering story – for myself and with other artists. I feel whole. My husband is an amazing parent and partner so I get an extra hour of sleep or two on Saturday morning after working Friday nights- so maybe that counts as “refreshment” . It probably would have been easier if I said “ yoga” or a “manicure” or a liter of coconut water everyday- but I am not so easy- although those sound great too 😉
How do gendered power dynamics influence your decisions as a filmmaker? Is it difficult to juggle creative pursuits while handling a family?
I choose my projects carefully because, speaking for myself, I feel there’s an emotional cost to juggling creative pursuits. And yes, sometime things fall apart when mama is away. It’s part of being mama. Women hold shit together. It’s a fact of life. And it’s a testament to the power of women. And it’s wonderful but you don’t get to put your needs first all the time. And with projects like writing, filmmaking and directing and performing, unless you have a strong support system in place it’s a struggle. A constant battle of “ am I doing right by the little person/people” But that little person needs to see you as a whole person who is joyful in work they love to do.
How do you feel creators can combat the disparity in the film industry?
Keep telling honest stories that give a voice to marginalized voices. The disparity will only be dismantled so long as we keep rejecting status quo. Waves begin with ripples. And every one of us is a ripple.
Any advice for other filmmakers who are mothers?
I am terrible at giving advice. But I think “stick together” feels right. We really are stronger together. And I try to remember that there is no greater gift then your kids seeing how happy you are in work that you love.