The thing we were always keen to achieve with Gallop is that it should be different to the video material already out there for MSers. If shift.ms were to make a film then it we wanted to bring something different to the table that would resonate with our community and raise awareness of the challenges of the early days/years of living with MS.
So it was decided that we would make a narrative film and at the suggestion of the professionals (our creative agency Mother), Gallop became a love story. The love story was a way of ensuring the film was about living life with MS and not about MS in isolation. It was also a way of engaging people beyond the MS community; we all want to know if a couple gets/stays together! Hopefully by the end of Gallop viewers without a connection to MS will have learnt something about being diagnosed with the condition.
Of course Gallop is magical and fanciful, but falling in love feels like that. Its representation of early symptoms and the diagnostic process was also thoroughly thought-through. I spent a lot of time with director Michael Pearce and the actors describing early symptoms and the disorientation they cause. Gallop evokes the emotional journey of diagnosis but also of falling in love.
The film is open to interpretations but for me the central struggle Dave faces is finding the courage, hope and trust to engage with life post-diagnosis and tell Karen about his MS. I understand the core tension of the story to be Dave accepting that both the immutable reality of his disease and the magic of falling in love are not mutually exclusive.
For me the white horse is a metaphor for finding the courage to engage with life, whoever you are. For me it’s a metaphor that resonates with our maxim at shift.ms: MS doesn’t mean giving up on your ambitions, just rethinking how to achieve them.
Cathy John was a Creative Consultant for shift.ms on Gallop advising on the development, writing, production and launch of the film. She is a writer on living with MS at lickingthehoney.org, for The Independent and for Look Into My Eyes a Northumbria University book project launched at MS Life 2012.