MAKING THE FILM
Sal Anderson, Director
While making the film someone said ‘a seizure is like a wolf creeping up on you, ready to pounce.’ That’s what lead us to call the film ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf.’
I originally studied the sciences, chemistry then zoology, and many years ago while working on spiders in the Natural History Museum in Paris, I fell in love – with film.
I had only ever made fiction films before ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf?’ and I knew next to nothing about epilepsy. Which is extraordinary as it’s so common, in fact it’s possibly the most common serious neurological condition in the world.
I had made a short fiction film with neuropsychologist Professor Roz McCarthy on visual agnosia. She told me about Dr Sallie Baxendale’s studies on the misrepresentation of epilepsy in film and television. I could not get it out of my head. Why make a film that MIS-represents epilepsy when you can use film to communicate what it is really like ‘living with the Wolf.’
I was given an Arts Award from the Wellcome Trust to make the film and got in touch with Epilepsy Action and the Epilepsy Society to find a group of people interested in making the film with me.
LIVING WITH EPILEPSY
I then ran acting workshops and the film evolved around this amazing group of people. It was very moving getting to know and working with them all.
I was most struck by the generosity of spirit of the people in the film. And through the workshops, the games and exchanges, we learn about ‘their Wolf.’ Epilepsy does not define this group of people. Their courage, humour and strength, does.
When we had the Cast and Crew screening, people who knew nothing about epilepsy told me how moved they were, that they had cried in the film. They said – you have to be brave to open up so we can be touched and feel something of what it is to live with epilepsy.
I wanted bring my experience of working in fiction film to help give a voice to those misrepresented by film and TV, in order to help convey the drama, the anxiety and fear, the poetry and creativity of those who live with and despite ‘the Wolf.’
The film is life-giving and joyous because the people are. The condition is strange and mysterious and sometimes heartbreaking in ways that touch all of us. Opening up to empathise with this wonderful group of people who we come to know in the film somehow opens us up to ourselves.