Mothersbane is a personal documentary that explores the filmmaker’s ambivalent relationship to his mother’s physical disabilities and chronicles his attempts to be at peace with her suffering and disfigurement. It is a mixed-media portrait, alternating between the present – in which his mother battles a staph infection and prepares for a major surgery – and recollections of the filmmaker’s past. The film draws upon a variety of poetic evocations, including Super 8 recreations of childhood memories, to express the love and anxiety, and the protectiveness and dread, that has defined his relationship with his mother.
Jason Jakaitis oversees an after-school filmmaking program for at-risk teenagers in downtown Oakland and lectures at San Francisco State University. He received an MFA from the SFSU Cinema department in 2010, as well as an MA from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Communications Studies department in 2001. He lives in Oakland with his girlfriend and their two rabbits.
Mothersbane served as Jason Jakaitis’ MFA thesis film in San Francisco State University’s Cinema Department. Pre-production began in January of 2007. Initial funding was acquired over the summer of 2007, including a grant from Panavision that made possible shooting on Super 16mm. The first round of shooting took place over a week at the Jakaitis residence in San Diego in December 2007. At the time, Suzi was already recovering from the fall that is portrayed at the end of the film, so her shoulder scar had to be hidden from the camera. Another round of filming occurred during a week in April 2008. This included the Super 8 recreations with the actor Leo Labrosse playing “Young Jason.”
Footage was digitally transferred for editing in May 2008 and editing commenced. An initial rough cut was completed in the January of 2009. It was more than 45 minutes long, however – the original treatment for the film called for extensive “found footage” sequences from James Cameron’s Aliens and chronicled the filmmaker’s adolescent infatuation with cyborg characters and strong female heroines. This version proved unwieldy and the science-fiction storyline was abandoned. A shorter version of Mothersbane was assembled by November 2009. Picture lock was achieved by March 2010 and the sound was mixed at Berkeley Sound Artists in April 2010. Mothersbane was screened at the SFSU MFA thesis show in May 2010.