FEATURE FILM THE TARGET AND TELEVISION SERIES THE TRAVEL COUNSELLOR
Melbourne-based social worker Giovanna Mercuri has turned her experiences advocating for clients’ mental health into a full-length feature film and a popular television series, with the aim to shine the light on important issues such as bullying and domestic violence. Under her film company Locked-In Productions, Giovanna is in the middle of airing Season Two of her popular television series The Travel Counsellor, broadcast on Channel 31 every Sunday. Not only is she currently working on Season Three, set for release in early 2019, but has just launched her second full-length feature film, The Target, starring Damien Leith, which officially opened to coincide with RUOK Day.
The Target holds an important message for Giovanna, one that she hopes impacts audiences and makes them take a step back and think. She says the inspiration came from her own counselling practice and she penned abstract storyline using her own experiences. “While conducting counselling sessions, I often come across clients who are suffering from major anxiety and depression, due to various types of bullying,” she says. “Upon reflection one day, I realised that this issue of bullying just doesn’t seem to go away, or doesn’t seem to be getting any better. I decided to make a movie as a different forum to show the serious effects bullying has.”
It is a heart-wrenching look at what bullying can do. The Target focuses on a woman remembering her husband who committed suicide because of workplace bullying. As she reads the eulogy at the funeral, those attending have flashbacks to their own bullying experiences – in and out of the workplace, at home and at school. Featuring a 120-strong cast and crew, many of whom were part of The Target as their own passion project, because they each had experienced bullying in some form throughout their lives.
“The Target is based on real events of people’s lives,” says Giovanna. “Filming the movie was an amazing experience and I felt so privileged to have such talented people around me who were just as passionate about spreading the bullying word as I was.”
Giovanna’s other passion project under Locked-In Productions is The Travel Counsellor, currently airing its second season, a drama about a counsellor visiting Australian homes and conducting sessions on a broad variety of issues. “The show is designed to address life difficulties and issues that people face,” says Giovanna. “Adele, the counsellor, teaches her clients real strategies on how to handle such difficulties and it is designed to teach audiences solution focused techniques they too may be able to adopt in their lives. This drama is about empowering people to reach out when suffering from mental health issues. The show also teaches friends and families how to respond when they are being reached out to and how common certain issues are.”
With an extensive background in performing arts, Giovanna has been singing, dancing and acting since she was a child. She has taken her combined education – Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood), Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Social Work – to create targeted programs designed to spark interest, but also provide education and skills. Her debut full-length feature film, Locked In, focused on domestic violence and buoyed up by the feedback from audiences, she hasn’t looked back since.
“I have been receiving amazing mail about how The Travel Counsellor is helping people feel brave about reaching out to others about their difficulties and mental health issues,” she says. “The general consensus is that the series is making it easy for people who are suffering mental health issues to talk about it. Sometimes I feel as a counsellor that no matter how hard I work, how much I try and help people, talking is just not enough. I have found helping people with mental health throughout the movies and series has been a powerful tool. Sometimes people are too scared to talk about mental health – my show teaches them they are not alone.”
Giovanna hopes the conversation about mental health continues and is currently filming season three of The Travel Counsellor, due to air in 2019.
Locked-In Productions’ full-length feature film The Target is available on DVD now. Season Two of The Travel Counsellor airs weekly Sunday nights at 10.30pm on Channel 31. For more information, please visit www.lockedinproductions.com
Australian singer and songwriter Damien Leith will make his acting debut in The Target.
The Target is currently in pre production and will have strong themes of bullying.
“I am thrilled to be part of The Target,” Leith told Cinema Australia. “Having experienced bullying first hand, it’ll be great to work on a project with such a strong message.”
Director Giovanna Mercuri is an accredited mental health social worker who runs her own counselling service called Start Fresh Counselling and Support Services. Mercuri originally launched her independent production company, Locked In Productions, to make her feature film debut, Locked In about a woman in a coma whose story is told by the people who visit her.
“The Target is about different types of bullying that different people of different age groups experience,” Mercuri said. “Most of the stories in The Target are all true. It demonstrates the negative and positive ways people deal with bullying.”
Mercuri will also star in the film alongside Leith, Laurie Whitehead, Vicky Wanless and Hannah Brooke. The Target is currently in pre production.
Taken from the Cinema Australia Page.
The Travel Counsellor is about a counsellor called Adele (Giovanna Mercuri) who conducts outreach counselling sessions in client's homes and settings of their choices. Faced with different mental health and life issues, Adele helps her clients make positive changes to their lives. This is an Australian drama which aims to teach audiences how to find internal strength to face their problems and work towards making changes.
LOCKED IN PROODUCTIONS was born at the end of 2016, Giovanna developed her Australian Independent Film Company and has completed 2 full feature movies, Locked In (a movie about family violence), and The Target (a movie about bullying). She also developed 2 TV series called “G & Me” (alongside with Daniel Reader) and “The Travel Counsellor” which has been showing on Channel 31, with 1.4 million viewers. Locked In Productions has now filmed across Melbourne and Sydney and hopes to continue to grow internationally.
“It has been extremely satisfying to be able to put all of my skills into one thing. I enjoy writing, directing, composing, producing and acting. Every single production teaches me a new skill. I am enjoying living and learning every day. My life is full of love, laughter and stimulation. I cannot thank all of my cast and crew for growing with me on this journey”
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A selection of videos recorded at some radio stations during the year where Giovanna was being interviewed by local radio DJs. Enjoy!
First production by Locked In Productions. Teaser
Teaser trailer of the upcoming movie 'The Target'
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