“I hope viewers laugh, cry and have a little dance in their seats”
Author: Sarah McGrathPublished: 25 May 2023
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Three years on from the making of ‘Ecstasy’, we catch up with director Grant Taylor to hear how the Parkinson’s community has responded to the short film – and why he hopes positive stories around disability and care can help “give them the motivation to keep going”
Nearly three years ago, we delved into the inspiring story behind ‘Ecstasy’ – a short film created by UK-based filmmaker Grant Taylor. Centred around the experiences of a man living with Parkinson’s and his son, the film portrayed their extraordinary quest to obtain an ecstasy pill so that the father could dance with his wife at her birthday party.
Grant’s personal connection to Parkinson’s – linked to the experience of his father Bob Taylor, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 25 years ago – has motivated him to shed light on the experiences of individuals living with the condition.
With the film now available online, we caught up with the writer and director to explore the response ‘Ecstasy’ has received from the Parkinson’s community.
Grant’s short film is now available to watch online. Image credit: Chris Cox
In our last interview, you spoke about the process of making your short film ‘Ecstasy’. What journey has the film been on since then?
The last time we spoke, my team had completed two days of filming on ‘Ecstasy’, which is a comedy-drama about a man with Parkinson’s and his quest to buy an ecstasy pill with his son.
Our plan had been to shoot the entire film in two days, but things didn’t go to plan – we had a burst tyre on our lighting van and a biblical rainstorm that delayed things. We had to raise money so we could shoot for a third day. That turned out to be the day the UK entered lockdown due to Covid-19, so our crowdfunding efforts hit a standstill. Thankfully, when things opened up again, we raised the rest of our funds and completed our final day of filming.
We raised over £20k to make the film, and it was important for the team to also support Parkinson’s research. We were able to raise £1.5k towards research into the condition.
Tell us about the experience of screening the film at festivals and other events. What has the reaction been like?
Seeing our film on the big screen – listening to audiences’ reactions, hearing their laughs and seeing their tears – has been an incredible experience. We’ve been lucky: our film has played at festivals all across the UK as well as some BAFTA-qualifying film festivals and an Oscar-qualifying film festival. Along the way, it’s won seven awards, and we couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved.
With each screening, it’s been so special hearing audience members react and speaking to them afterwards. My favourite screening was with my dad’s local Parkinson’s group in Dartford, UK. It was a full house of people from the Parkinson’s community, and the screening really hit home because that’s what our film was about: connecting with people living with Parkinson’s and their families.
Grant says the positive reaction to the film has been “an incredible experience”. Image credit: Chris Cox
How have members of the Parkinson’s community responded to ‘Ecstasy’?
Gina, one of the film’s extras who lives with Parkinson’s, said: “The film was absolutely fabulous, inspirational, heart-rending and thought-provoking – what a privilege to have been involved.”
We also had total strangers from all across the world donate hundreds and thousands of pounds to our crowdfunding campaign. An American woman named Julie, whose husband lives with Parkinson’s, was extremely invested throughout. She became an executive producer on the film and shared it with her husband as a complete surprise.
Meanwhile, my dad was there on the film shoot and saw the early edits; he has been to a number of screenings and seen the project win awards. All that – combined with his significant cameo in the film – has made him super proud.
Commenting on the project, my dad said: “What I was not prepared for was the emotional outpouring from complete strangers about the parallels in their own lives – it brings hope for the future.” Even though it’s an upbeat, hopeful film, he loves a good cry! It’s been an emotional experience from the crowdfunding all the way through to completion.
What do you hope viewers will gain from watching the film?
Lots of people know nothing about Parkinson’s, so I’ve used my experience to share what I know – whether it’s the nuances of taking medication or the complications of freezing. It’s those everyday moments that made the movie real – and hopefully entertaining. Films about disability and care shouldn’t be miserable – they should make people feel but give them the motivation to keep going.
I hope viewers of ‘Ecstasy’ laugh, cry and have a little dance in their seats. It’s a fun, action-packed film with heart – made by people affected by Parkinson’s in their lives for people living with Parkinson’s.
Lead image credit: Lee Bolton
Need to know
Grant Taylor is an award-winning director and filmmaker based in London, UK. He has worked in the industry for eight years, creating films, commercials, branded stories and music videos. His short film ‘Ecstasy’ is inspired by his father’s experience of living with Parkinson’s and stars Brian Bovell (‘Andor’, ‘The Missing’), Nathan Bryon (‘Rye Lane’, ‘Benidorm’) and Holli Dempsey (‘Harlots’, ‘After Life’).
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