Magazine article Screen International

The Spark of Electricity

Magazine article Screen International

The Spark of Electricity

Article excerpt

Director Bryn Higgins and star Agyness Deyn talk about bringing a unique young woman to life in British drama Electricity.

Electricity isn't a movie about epilepsy. It's about a headstrong young woman on an important life journey, who happens to have epilepsy - we see that for her the disorder is not necessarily a curse, just a part of her identity.

"What is so beautiful about this role is that epilepsy is so different for every single person...the things that come out of it can be quite unique. So it's about finding that uniqueness within the common thread," says actress Agyness Deyn, who takes a daunting lead role in nearly every shot of the film.

The film, adapted from Ray Robinson's novel of the same name, is about Lily O'Connor, a brash young woman who lives on the Northeast coast, embarking on a hallucinogenic journey to London to find her younger brother Mikey.

Stone City Films produces, and the BFI Film Fund also supported the production (the late Chris Collins championed the film and suggested Deyn for the role). The Wellcome Trust backed the film as its first feature film co-production, and advisors included The Epilepsy Society.

The film shot for six weeks in Newcastle and London. The cast also includes Christian Cooke, Paul Anderson, Alice Lowe, Lenora Crichlow and Tom Georgeson. The film premiered at the BFI London Film Festival in October and Soda Pictures releases it in the UK today.

Deyn, a former model who was named one of Screen's 2013 Stars of Tomorrow Brits in LA, watched many videos of patients and worked closely during research, rehearsals and preparation with Dr Gonzalo Alarcon, one of Europe's leading experts in epilepsy and a senior lecturer at King's College London.

"It was so fun and so interesting," she said of her work with the doctor. "I got from him this freeness, this physical freeness, because [seeing those kinds of physical movements] were so normal to him. It kind of was a really breaking point for me." It was also a physically demanding performance, leaving Deyn bruised at times. She learned about the different kinds of seizures that affect each person differently - "It's amazing, some of the circuits are quite violent looking, and some of them are quite happy," she says of her visits to see real patients with Dr Alarcon.

Director Bryn Higgins says, "I have to say Aggy put in an enormous amount of work and research. …

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