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A documentary examining the current international medical cannabis industry, & shining a light on treating conditions such as epilepsy.
280 backers pledged £58,046 to help bring this project to life.

About

Separating The Strains: a medical cannabis & epilepsy film project video thumbnail
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£58,046

280

**scroll down to the end to watch our teaser / trailer.... 

We have hit our original target of £50,000 - thank you so much to everyone who helped us get to this stage, we are over the moon! 

Our new target is £60,000 - this will take us much further through production. 

This is a documentary assessing the state of the global medical cannabis industry, with a particular focus on epilepsy, head injuries, and the opioid crisis. Epilepsy is the second most common condition after diabetes, yet it remains marginalised, until now... 

Cannabis is a medicine... Yet there are still governing bodies that will not allow access to sufferers who need this medicine to survive. It is a serious injustice if a patient cannot access life-changing medicine because of where they live.

Join us to help effect change. Through the power of film, we highlight the issues relating to cannabis and its medical benefits. 

Recently in the UK, we have seen a huge rise in media attention about medical cannabis. There has been an urgent call to action for the British government to grant access for cannabis treatment to epileptic children such as Billy Caldwell, Alfie Dingley and many others. 

We were there to film Charlotte and Billy Caldwell arriving at Heathrow Airport from Canada, after UK Customs were forced to confiscate Billy's life-saving medicine. (Our director Caroline is pictured centre)
We were there to film Charlotte and Billy Caldwell arriving at Heathrow Airport from Canada, after UK Customs were forced to confiscate Billy's life-saving medicine. (Our director Caroline is pictured centre)

Separating The Strains will follow the story of Chelsea Leyland struggling to get her severely epileptic sister access to potentially transformative medical cannabis treatment. The journey of these two sisters will lead us into to the wider world of epilepsy and other related neurological conditions such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE - a neurological condition closely associated with concussions from contact sports such as American Football). 

Medical cannabis, particularly the compound CBD, has recently had a lot of media attention in the NFL. It is being used as an alternative to damaging opioid treatments for CTE.
Medical cannabis, particularly the compound CBD, has recently had a lot of media attention in the NFL. It is being used as an alternative to damaging opioid treatments for CTE.

We will meet subjects, including former professional athletes, some of whom suffer from CTE or were prescribed opioids for pain, resulting in an array of associated health conditions including liver and kidney failure, and opioid addiction. A few have become activists at the forefront of the fight for access to medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids or treatment for addiction. The current opioid crisis in the US can only be described as an epidemic. America endures a 9/11 scale loss every 3 weeks due to opioid overdose.  

Profile piece in US Harper's Bazaar about Chelsea's big crusade for cannabis.
Profile piece in US Harper's Bazaar about Chelsea's big crusade for cannabis.

WHAT HAVE WE ACHIEVED SO FAR?  

So far, we have achieved a great deal having already filmed our UK section of the shoot, including interviews with some of the leading authorities in the field, scientists, politicians, and doctors. 

We have an amazing range of international contributors already confirmed, and with your help we will be able to travel to interview and learn more from them. 

Next up... Israel and the USA. We will complete our remaining interviews and visit the places where the medical cannabis industry is already making incredible progress, from grow facilities to labs. 

We have an exciting range of established contributors and supporters such as: GCAC, KODAK, VolteFace, Columbia Care New York, Tikun Olam, The Arri Group, CLEAR, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP),  Hanway Associates, MGC Pharmaceuticals and many more...

You will find our teaser / trailer at the end of this page, so you can see a bit more of what we have filmed already... 

This project has the potential to effect change, by informing our audience of the facts surrounding medical cannabis. By documenting conditions such as epilepsy that can use cannabis as a medicine, we strive to empower people to make informed decisions about their treatment choices... 

By making this documentary, we aim to:

(i) destigmatise cannabis and conditions such as epilepsy

(ii) rigorously examine the scientific research and educate our audiences

(iii) influence legislative change

Epilepsy is a neurological condition which results in the sufferer having multiple seizures. A seizure is when there is a sudden burst of electrical activity in the brain, which disrupts normal function. Anyone can have a one-off seizure in their life for any number of reasons. When someone is diagnosed with epilepsy, it is generally because they’ve had more than one seizure and a doctor thinks it is likely they will suffer more. 

There are many different types of epilepsy, and types of seizure. For example, Chelsea suffers from a type of epilepsy which causes her to have myclonic jerks - small seizures of the hands - but she also has tonic-clonic seizures, which cause you to lose consciousness and fall to the floor while your whole body convulses. These can be very scary and disorientating for the sufferer, and most people don’t know how to react when witnessing a seizure. 

Every seizure causes damage to the brain, so it is important for epilepsy sufferers to find the best way to treat or control these. Patients are often prescribed very strong pharmaceuticals. Whilst Chelsea has only had a few tonic-clonic seizures in her life, Tamsin - her sister - can suffer up to 20 a day. Some children can suffer hundreds of uncontrollable seizures a day. These can be life threatening, or result in called Sudden Unexpected Death from Epilepsy (SUDEP) - for which no medical explanation yet exists. 

In the last few years, cannabis has been shown to have amazing anti-seizure properties for some cases of epilepsy, particularly previously ‘treatment-resistant’ forms, some that affect young children.

Cannabis is a plant that has been subjected to years of negative coverage and misinformation, often at the hands of politicians. Despite being used as a medicine for thousands of years, in the last century it has been demonised and become the subject of a racist and unsuccessful 'war on drugs'. Only recently, have some of the medical benefits been rediscovered and become the subject of scientific studies and trials.  

Many people have used cannabis to treat conditions ranging from pain relief and skin ailments, to more serious and life threatening issues. However, most have had to do this in secret, or risk criminalisation, and they have been forced to seek access to sub-standard cannabis through black market or dangerous methods. Many find that cannabis treats their conditions more effectively and with fewer side-effects than mainstream prescribed pharmaceuticals, such as opioids.

Cannabis works on the brain due to the presence of a variety of compounds found in the plant called cannabinoids. When we ingest cannabis into our system, those cannabinoids bind to receptors in the brain and these cause a variety of effects in our bodies. The biological system that processes these cannabinoids in our body is called the endocannabinoid system, and was discovered by Israeli scientists in 1992. 

This photo was taken by team member, Jonathan Toivo Rice, on a cannabis farm in the US. July, 2018.
This photo was taken by team member, Jonathan Toivo Rice, on a cannabis farm in the US. July, 2018.

Two of the most well known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. High levels of THC are what result in a 'high' feeling, and CBD, which alone does not produce any psychoactive reaction, is known for its anti-anxiety effects. In combination, these and other cannabinoids can produce a wide variety of complex and interesting results in the brain and body, and we are only just finding out through research just how many applications these compounds might have.  

Over the last century, due to legislation, and a 'prohibition' type attitude, very little scientific research has been undertaken. However, over the past few years, we have seen an international explosion of interest in the controversial topic of cannabis legislation and widespread reform.  In the US the FDA recently approved the first cannabis derived drug for epilepsy - Epidiolex - after extensive clinical trials. 

The cannabis industry in the US & Canada is growing fast , estimated to be worth $15 billion by 2020, despite Federal legislation. In the UK, there is a huge injustice presented by the fact that, despite being the world’s largest exporter of medical cannabis, most of the citizens themselves cannot access the drug, due to current legislation.

This campaign is setting a target to raise at least £50,000 to cover our remaining shoot production costs. If we exceed the target then any more money raised will support funding our post production costs. After raising our initial investment funds, we have turned to crowdfunding to help with our final push. 

As soon as our Kickstarter campaign has closed we will move straight into production. We want to be in edit by early Autumn and have a finished film soon after. This story is unfolding as we speak, and we want to continue to be on the frontline.

So please still contribute even if we have hit our target... Please continue to share our campaign: we want as many people to see it as possible. Your support means the world to us! Whatever amount you can give shows your support and proves we have an interested audience for this film. 

 CAROLINE SHARP - DIRECTOR  

Caroline is a London-based filmmaker with a background in neuroscience, from her masters at University College London, where she studied epilepsy and other neurological conditions. Caroline is the co-founder of Sharp Payne productions. Having directed and produced a variety of short films and documentaries over the last 2 years. Her ongoing work has a focus on mental health issues. 

SOPHIE DANIEL - PRODUCER 

Sophie is a freelance, London based producer. She has independently produced a number of short films. Her work at Full Fat Films production company included adverts, music videos and fashion films.  

CHELSEA LEYLAND - CO-DIRECTOR / CO-PRODUCER

 DJ, Chelsea can normally be found in front of the camera. She has moved behind the lens to produce a deeply personal story and to continue her activism. Chelsea is able to provide unparalleled insights into the world of both an epileptic and medicinal cannabis patient. 

TOM WADE - DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY 

 Tom is an award winning Cinematographer based in London. His passion for visual storytelling has been nurtured under the watch of modern day masters including Emmanuel 'Chivo' Lubezki, Janusz Kaminski and Greig Fraser. After working on the crew of 4 of the highest grossing films of all time, Tom’s recent Cinematography work has included both fashion and narrative pieces. Last year he shot the Micro Unit on 'Solo:A Star Wars Story'. Tom is part of BAFTA Crew and is an Associate Member of the GBCT (Guild of British Camera Technicians.) 

NICK GUTFREUND - EXECUTIVE PRODUCER 

 Nick is a media producer with experience in all areas of popular music, spoken word, video, film, and new media development. He is developing a full-length documentary film titled Local Action, tracking grassroots efforts to ensure a sustainable future and is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation, a U.S. non-profit working to integrate sustainability in elementary education. 

KRISTYNA SELLNEROVA - PRODUCER 

Kristyna has the unusual distinction of having an equally solid background in features and TV as she does in commercials, corporates and promos. Her route into producing came through the AD department. Over the years she has Produced and Line Produced both small and big projects all over the world. Now based in London, Kristyna successfully runs her own production company, Staunch Films.  

JONATHAN TOIVO RICE - ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Jonathan is a concussion advocate – helping those who are going through the pains of head trauma by sharing resources, information, stories, science. At 16 he incurred a life-changing head injury, leaving him with a massive concussion and fractured neck. He was prescribed more than 25 medications and was told he may never recover. His life was transformed when he became one of the first paediatric medical cannabis patients in Maine.  

JAMES WILLIAM BLADES - COMPOSER

James is a composer and producer whose work has included a wide range of productions across feature film, documentary film, adverts, sound installations, fashion shows and contemporary music. In 2016, James composed the scores for Redistributors and the documentary Halfway. At Thread, an artist residency in Senegal he produced music for fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner and recorded his score to Malcolm Sutherland’s new animation. James composed the soundscape score to Sampha’s film Process, directed by Kahlil Joseph. Recently, James completed a sound installation at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

The Separating The Strains crew during our UK shoot, May 2018.
The Separating The Strains crew during our UK shoot, May 2018.
The team saying goodbye to Billy Caldwell before he flew home after successfully getting his lifesaving cannabis medication returned to him by the Home Office, July, 2018.
The team saying goodbye to Billy Caldwell before he flew home after successfully getting his lifesaving cannabis medication returned to him by the Home Office, July, 2018.
Interviewing Professor David Nutt in London, where he shared his insights on drug policy and how our current system is failing us. May, 2018.
Interviewing Professor David Nutt in London, where he shared his insights on drug policy and how our current system is failing us. May, 2018.
Producer, Sophie, putting a microphone on Steve Moore (VolteFace Director) before his interview in London. May, 2018.
Producer, Sophie, putting a microphone on Steve Moore (VolteFace Director) before his interview in London. May, 2018.
Chelsea and Caroline advocating medical cannabis before Chelsea addressed a rally at Parliament Square. February, 2018.
Chelsea and Caroline advocating medical cannabis before Chelsea addressed a rally at Parliament Square. February, 2018.
Caroline with Robin, father to his severely epileptic daughter - Georgia, outside the Home Office in June, 2018.
Caroline with Robin, father to his severely epileptic daughter - Georgia, outside the Home Office in June, 2018.
Producer Kristyna with producer, Sophie (in her happy place with a headset on...)
Producer Kristyna with producer, Sophie (in her happy place with a headset on...)
BBC Radio 1 Xtra interviewing Chelsea at the Cannabis Europa event at the Barbican Centre. May, 2018.
BBC Radio 1 Xtra interviewing Chelsea at the Cannabis Europa event at the Barbican Centre. May, 2018.
Caroline interviewing Chelsea at Cannabis Europa in the Barbican Centre, in preparation for her patients panel discussion later that day.
Caroline interviewing Chelsea at Cannabis Europa in the Barbican Centre, in preparation for her patients panel discussion later that day.
Keynote Patients Panel at Cannabis Europa, (from the left: Charlotte Caldwell, Carola Perez, Chelsea Leyland, Tom Curran)
Keynote Patients Panel at Cannabis Europa, (from the left: Charlotte Caldwell, Carola Perez, Chelsea Leyland, Tom Curran)

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our documentary. We have been working for nearly a year to get to where we are at now, thanks to our team bringing this ambitious project to life. With YOUR support we can complete this film.  

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Risks and challenges

Over the past year making this film has taught us many lessons – we have listened, we have learnt lots and we have taken on board a lot of invaluable advice.

Here are a few of the lessons:

FINISHING THE FILM – half the battle is done. Through the dedication and kindness of others we have half our footage in the can. Now we just need your help to get the rest in the bag, and then we can cross the finish line.

IMPACT – the domino effect of talking to people is that you find out just how many people are affected by conditions like epilepsy, whether personally or vicariously. Chelsea’s story impacts on us all and it will hopefully change the way we look at people who suffer from differing neurological conditions, or people who use medical cannabis.

SPREADING THE WORD – with our new Kickstarter team behind us we can give people like Chelsea & Tamsin a voice. Not just to raise money but to get people talking. And when people start talking, people start helping.

We've already faced challenges, we've already faced risks and each one has been overcome thanks to the inspiration Chelsea's, and so many others alike, story instils in everyone involved. We promise never to give up until we get this film made and shared with all of you!!

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    THANK YOU CELEBRATION!

    We will virtually hug you everyday for the next year, sending out all our gratitude and good karma. Your support really means the world to us!

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    PRIVATE STREAMING LINK & ONLINE THANK YOU

    - We will personally thank you on our social media pages and website.

    - You will receive a private streaming link of the final film.

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    DELUXE DIGITAL DOWNLOAD OF ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

    - You will also receive a private streaming link to the final documentary accompanied by a download of the film's original sound track by our extremely talented composer - James William Blades.

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    - We will personally thank you on our social media pages and website.

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    DEDICATION TO A LOVED ONE AND DELUXE DIGITAL DOWNLOAD.

    - dedicate your donation to a loved one with their name added to the Separating The Strains website.

    - You will also receive a private streaming link to the final documentary accompanied by a download of the film's original sound track by our extremely talented composer - James William Blades.

    - We will personally thank you on our social media pages and website.

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    PERSONALISED PLAYLIST, DEDICATION TO A LOVED ONE, AND DELUXE DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

    - You will receive a personalised playlist from Chelsea who is not only our protagonist and co-director but also a DJ with an eclectic music taste.

    - dedicate your donation to a loved one with their name added to the Separating The Strains website.

    - You will also receive a private streaming link to the final documentary accompanied by a download of the film's original sound track by our extremely talented composer - James William Blades.

    - We will personally thank you on our social media pages and website.

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    SEE YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS, NAME A CANNABIS PLANT, PERSONALISED PLAYLIST, DEDICATION TO A LOVED ONE, AND DELUXE DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

    - See your name in lights, appearing in our final credits.

    - have a cannabis plant named after you or a loved one.

    - You will receive a personalised playlist from Chelsea who is not only our protagonist and co-director but also a DJ with an eclectic music taste.

    - dedicate your donation to a loved one with their name added to the Separating The Strains website.

    - You will also receive a private streaming link to the final documentary accompanied by a download of the film's original sound track by our extremely talented composer - James William Blades.

    - We will personally thank you on our social media pages and website.

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    INVITATION TO THE SET

    Ever wanted to experience a film set, in person? Come and join us for a day of shooting. We will give you an in-depth experience of what it means to be a part of a documentary film crew!

    - See your name in lights, appearing in our final credits.

    - You will receive a personalised playlist from Chelsea who is not only our protagonist and co-director but also a DJ with an eclectic music taste.

    - dedicate your donation to a loved one with their name added to the Separating The Strains website.

    - You will also receive a private streaming link to the final documentary accompanied by a download of the film's original sound track by our extremely talented composer - James William Blades.

    - We will personally thank you on our social media pages and website.

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    TICKETS TO THE LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

    - 2 tickets to see the world famous London Philharmonic Orchestra at London's Southbank Centre.

    - Choose the concert of your choice, or perhaps see the orchestra play a live musical score to a famous film. We'll work with you to find and choose the event you most want to see ,and get you two great tickets to an unforgettable evening.

    https://www.lpo.org.uk/

    - See your name in lights, appearing in our final credits.

    - You will receive a personalised playlist from Chelsea who is not only our protagonist and co-director but also a DJ with an eclectic music taste.

    - dedicate your donation to a loved one with their name added to the Separating The Strains website.

    - You will also receive a private streaming link to the final documentary accompanied by a download of the film's original sound track by our extremely talented composer - James William Blades.

    - We will personally thank you on our social media pages and website.

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    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER CREDIT

    With your generous donation, we would like to officially welcome you to the production team, with an "ASSOCIATE PRODUCER" credit. This will appear in the final credits of the film, alongside the other members of the crew.

    - See your name in lights, appearing in our final credits.

    - You will receive a personalised playlist from Chelsea who is not only our protagonist and co-director but also a DJ with an eclectic music taste.

    - dedicate your donation to a loved one with their name added to the Separating The Strains website.

    - You will also receive a private streaming link to the final documentary accompanied by a download of the film's original sound track by our extremely talented composer - James William Blades.

    - We will personally thank you on our social media pages and website.

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Funding period

- (30 days)