A young filmmaker has brought the story of his father’s battle with Parkinson’s disease to the big screen, with a short film called Ecstasy.
Grant Taylor, 35, is a writer and film director from Plumstead. When he was 11 years old, his father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
He said: “It has had a massive impact, 11 is quite a pivotal moment in your life.
“He was 43 and the main breadwinner of the household. When my dad was diagnosed the whole family dynamic changed.
“He had been a builder and a carpenter, which are both quite physical jobs, so he had to stop working and learn to live with the condition.
“As a family we overwhelmingly try to be as positive as possible.”
Grant’s father, Bob Taylor, 68, from Sidcup, said: “People with this condition put on a brave face and they try to be positive, but nobody has captured what it’s really like to live with Parkinson’s.
“You don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it.”
Ecstasy, written and directed by Grant, was released on April 11. The film follows the story of father and son, Ian and Kristian, and their efforts to give Ian the chance to dance with his wife Rachael on her birthday.
The plot is inspired by a controversial Home Office sanction which saw the first-ever use of the Class A drug allowed for medical studies.
In 2001, Cambridge scientists looked into claims that an ecstasy user with Parkinson’s reported significant improvements in his illness, a study that was the focus of the BBC Horizon documentary ‘Ecstasy and Agony’.
Grant said:“Disability is often depicted in a miserable and gritty way in the media and it’s hardly motivating.
“Life is hard enough and we wanted to create a film that is truthful in its portrayal of Parkinson’s but also gives people hope.
“Our film isn’t condoning the use of illegal drugs or exploring what’s beneficial from a scientific viewpoint.
“Instead, we want people to think about how far they would go to dance with a loved one just one more time.
“I wanted to make a film that would help people. I wanted it to make people laugh but also cry.”
Ecstasy was screened at OSCAR and BAFTA qualifying film festivals worldwide and won seven awards.
The film stars Brian Bovell from Love Actually, Nathan Bryon, who is the Co-writer of Rye Lane and Holli Dempsey from shows including After Life and Black Mirror.
Grant said: “It’s been so special hearing audiences react and speaking to them afterwards about their connections to Parkinson’s.
“My favourite screening was at my Dad’s local Parkinson’s group at the Mick Jagger centre in Dartford.
“It was a full house of people from our Parkinson’s community and that screening really hit home, because that’s what our film was about, connecting with people living with Parkinson’s and their families.”
The film raised over twenty thousand pounds through crowdfunding, with over two thousand pounds going directly to Parkinson’s research.
April is Parkinson’s awareness month. Currently, 145,000 people in the UK are living with Parkinson’s, and it is the fastest-growing neurodegenerative condition in the world.
The film can be watched for free online here – https://youtu.be/VWteaww-57U
Pictured top: Grant Taylor with his father, Bob Taylor holding the Best Drama award at the Brighton Film Festival (Picture: Grant Taylor)
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