A film maker is raising awareness about living with a degenerative illness by telling his father’s story in his latest project, writes Marianne Gros.
Grant Taylor, a writer and director from Woolwich, is making a film about Parkinson’s disease, drawing inspiration from his father’s two-decade-long battle with the illness.
Grant’s father Bob, a former builder and carpenter from Sidcup, was diagnosed with the neurological disorder in 1997 at the age of 43, and his disease has had a major impact on his family’s day-to-day lives.
“Trying to do a physical job of carpentry, things were becoming very difficult. My left arm seemed really weak and in my right arm the muscles felt very tense on and off,” said Bob
“You just have to manage and scrape by. My wife, Liz, started doing full-time work. It was tough. I missed working but I made sure I filled my time by taking a city and guilds in teaching qualifications. And I set about making lessons for the Headway charity art group,” he added.
Living with the disease has also allowed Bob to look at his life in a different way.
“I try to live one day at a time, I can’t see any point in needlessly worrying about things that may never happen. Parkinson’s has weirdly given me so many opportunities. I’ve met so many amazing people, most of whom were told as youngsters that health conditions would take over their lives. People can be so caring and giving. It’s humbling”, he added.
His son, Grant, will now be telling their story in a comedy short film, to raise awareness on the condition, and to give audiences a chance to see those who suffer from Parkinson’s and their carers in a different light.
“As a family, we’ve been on quite a journey. Simple things like walking and talking become incredibly tough for my dad, and sadly it’s a disease that gets progressively worse. It’s not an easy diagnosis to come to terms with but we deal with it with a smile and positivity, which is why we want to make this film,” said Grant.
The short film, titled Ecstasy, 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 Home Office sanction in 2001, which saw the first ever use of a class A drug allowed for medical studies.
A Cambridge study looked into the potential benefits of ecstasy on degenerative illnesses, after one user with Parkinson’s disease reported significant improvements in his condition after taking the drug.
“Our film certainly isn’t condoning the use of illegal drugs or exploring what’s beneficial from a scientific viewpoint,” Grant said. “Instead, we want people to think about how far they would go to dance with a loved one just one more time.”
Grant won a pitching competition at the Cine Circle Festival in September, which secured him a £1,000 contribution for kit hire from digital facilities company VMI, and the use of editing services from Fantomeline Pictures.
The team raised more than £4,500 in its first week of crowdfunding, and reached its original target in just 12 days, in one of the fastest campaigns the crowdfunding platform had ever seen.
Half of all donations over the new £10,000 budget will be donated to Parkinson’s research.
Grant said: “We’ve been completely overwhelmed by people’s generosity. We’ve galvanised people and want to create as much awareness around Parkinson’s disease and this film as possible.”