EPISODE 03 (Part 2): ELAINE GRACIE, Screenwriter of End-O

EPISODE 03 (Part 2): Interview with Elaine Gracie, Screenwriter of ‘End-O’

Welcome to Part 2 of the rePRO Film Podcast episode for March, where we are celebrating endometriosis awareness month by highlighting this important issue through advocacy, education and of course, a brilliant short film. If you haven’t yet listened to part 1 of this month’s episode, be sure to make that next on your to-do list!

In this interview, I’ll be speaking with Elaine Gracie, the writer of ‘End-O’, a short film out of the UK which was originally released in 2020 and has since gone on to win a bunch of awards and continue to screen at numerous film festivals in the UK and throughout the world.

Since March is Endometriosis awareness month, the story and central topic, based on writer Elaine’s real life experience, is as relevant as ever, especially given the statistics that 1 in 10 women are living with endo. Elaine opens up to me about her debilitating, and at times absurd reality of living with endo, how she channeled her rage toward the medical system into an acclaimed short film, why she welcomes even the trolling comments, and the next exciting iteration of this film. This is hands down one of my favorite interviews of all time and once you’re done listening you will know why! 

Asha Dahya  00;00

Hello friends! Welcome to part 2 of the rePRO Film Podcast episode for March, where we are celebrating endometriosis awareness month by highlighting this important issue through advocacy, education and of course, a brilliant short film. If you haven’t yet listened to part 1 of this month’s episode, be sure to make that next on your to-do list! In this interview, I’ll be speaking with Elaine Gracie, the writer of ‘End-O’, a short film out of the UK which was originally released in 2020 and has since gone on to win a bunch of awards and continue to screen at numerous film festivals in the UK and throughout the world.

In ‘End-O’, central character Jaq is accompanying her sister Claire to a hospital. Claire has endometriosis, a widespread but poorly understood tissue disorder that affects women’s reproductive systems, causing immense pain, heavy bleeding and painful sex. Claire’s condition is so painful that she needs to have her uterus removed, but she wants to keep her ovaries in hopes that she can have a biological child in some way in the future. Jaq, played by the brilliant Sophia di Martino, also has endometriosis, though it’s not as advanced as Claire’s yet. In some ways, Jaq is defiant about her endo and doesn’t want to let it affect her life. She dates and has sex like any modern woman in London, but she hides her condition and refuses to talk much or even acknowledge it. But even Jaq can’t escape the very messy reality of her condition, and her inability to talk openly about it sabotages a promising relationship and satisfying sex life. But when Claire’s surgery takes a sad turn, Jaq realizes that she must learn to talk about it with openness. Quirky, bold and remarkably expansive, this short comedy is both one woman’s journey into accepting a difficult reality and a deep dive into a poorly understood condition that affects millions of women. These women often suffer silently with the myriad ways it can debilitate normal life.

Since March is Endometriosis awareness month, the story and central topic, based on writer Elaine’s real life experience, is as relevant as ever, especially given the statistics that 1 in 10 women are living with endo. Elaine opens up to me about her debilitating, and at times absurd reality of living with endo, how she channeled her rage toward the medical system into an acclaimed short film, why she welcomes even the trolling comments, and the next exciting iteration of this film. This is hands down one of my favorite interviews of all time and once you’re done listening you will know why!

 

Asha Dahya  00;03;08;07 – 00;03;14;06

Elaine Gracie, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s a pleasure to be chatting with you about End-O

 

Elaine Gracie  00;03;14;06 – 00;03;17;05

Thank you. Lovely to be here. Lovely to be here.

 

Asha Dahya  00;03;17;05 – 00;03;27;22

Well, I love that we’re in different time zones. You’re in the UK. You’re in Scotland. I’m here in L.A. And so I love that we get to make this now somewhat of a global discussion in the rePRO Film Podcast.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;03;29;03 – 00;03;40;01

Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think, you know, we’re all we’re all suffering from these inconvenient ailments. So, you know, it’s probably good that we’re embracing it everywhere.

 

Asha Dahya  00;03;40;01 – 00;03;55;05

Yeah. And it is a global thing. So now firstly, you said like your experience? So let’s talk about how you wrote the script for End-O and it was based on your own experience with endometriosis. Can you share more about this?

 

Elaine Gracie  00;03;55;05 – 00;05;16;29

Yes. So I was diagnosed quite late. I mean, I think that is a very common experience. On average, it takes about seven years. I think part in my in terms of my story, part of that was to do with me heavily being in denial about it. My sister, my older sister had / has chronic endometriosis and I just didn’t want it. I just didn’t want any of that. I had seen the way, you know, the incredibly debilitating effect it had on her physically and emotionally and her relationships and literally had inveigled its way into every part of her life. And I did not want anything to do Yeah. So effectively I did walk the central character in the, in the, in the short does, and I just blamed it on everything else. It was my, my appendix. I basically had like an infection in my appendix once a month, like eight years, because I just felt like I mean, the tricky thing and I’m sure we’ll talk about this more, but the tricky thing in terms of raising awareness and being able to be quite up front about these discussions is that there’s no way of talking about endometriosis without feeling vulnerable or being vulnerable.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;05;17;07 – 00;06;08;20

It’s a very private experience and it’s about pain and it’s about having to, you know, having it impact your life and your relationships and your sexual relationships and all of these things. And so in a way, there’s never going to be an easy way to do it. There’s never going to be an easy way to say, “No, I can’t come out this evening or I can’t eat this kind of food or I can’t do this or I can’t do that, or I’ve just bled all over your penis.” I’m really sorry because I have endometriosis. Like, it’s never going easy. So the film kind of came about… pure rage. Pure rage, which is what I mean. It might be that I’m slightly you know, I emotionally lean that way because I’m Scottish. Perhaps? I really have to get to my breaking point before I will expect things.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;06;09;05 – 00;06;28;21

So I had a problem with my “appendix” again, and this is a few years ago now and I had messaged to flatmate saying I’m pretty sure my appendix is infected and really inflamed. If it bursts, I will call you and get you to call an ambulance.

 

Asha Dahya  00;06;28;25 – 00;06;31;03

Oh wow.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;06;31;03 – 00;07;36;25

[they were like] Elaine. It’s not your appendix. But I was like, “No, no, I’m sure it is. And if can you check on me in the morning because I might be dead.” And I was being completely serious. Completely serious. So my flatmate said, “Listen, you need to go to the doctor. ” So I went to an emergency NHS appointment on the Sunday and the doctor. I mean, I just like to say the NHS is an incredible institution. I am very proud of it. I love it. It is, dear. It’s kind of like a religion in this country and that is absolutely correct. That is exactly how we should think of it. However, has its problems and this poor GP was working on a Sunday he was completely exhausted. Frazled. Underpaid, understaffed. The list is endless, but he was also totally dismissive and completely fucking useless. And I was livid. I was livid. He told me, I said to him: I had kind of reached my end point. I was like, “Listen, I think it’s endometriosis. I think that’s what’s going on.” And he was like, “Well, have you thought about getting pregnant?”

 

Asha Dahya  00;07;36;25 – 00;07;42;10

I’ve heard this! What a crazy thing. I’ll just get pregnant. Like, Hello? What?!

 

Elaine Gracie  00;07;42;10 – 00;08;39;08

It’s so funny because for me…wow. There are times now when I go private, especially the past two years, because I’ve been very concerned about myself, and I know that there’s a massive strain with COVID on the NHS. I don’t want to add to that strain, so I’d pay to go and get a scan. And I went to one of the fanciest doctors, a real tra-la-la doctor I went to. I paid for the joy of of sitting down and him saying to me, “Would you ever like to have children at some point in the future?” And I was like, if he fucking says to me, I swear to God, I am paying like £3 million for 20 minutes of his time. If he says to me, “Have you ever thought about getting preg…” – I am, I’m going to break him. I’m going to break every bone, I’m just going to do it. And that’s exactly what I said. I was like, “Do you know what, dude? I can’t. You’d never say that to a man.” Do you know, I wasn’t going to run on this podcast. I didn’t want to run but I’ve started. It’s become…

 

Asha Dahya  00;08;39;08 – 00;08;39;26

Continue!

 

Elaine Gracie  00;08;40;10 – 00;08;57;20

You’d never say that to a guy. It is not a treatment for my chronic pain condition. I said to him, “I’ll tell you what, that’s great. Do you fancy getting me pregnant? No. Let’s do it. You thought me I was a kid. I was a kid to treat my chronic pain condition and then I’ll give the baby to you, shall I?”

 

Asha Dahya  00;08;58;25 – 00;09;00;27

What was his response?

 

Elaine Gracie  00;09;01;02 – 00;10;13;08

Oh, he just was kind of [laughter]. He was like, “You know you’re paying for my time.” And I was like, “Yes, I do know I’m paying for your time. Thank you very much.” And I. I mean, it just so I had this horrendous NHS appointment this GP appointment, and I came home and I just banged out this pure, like a short, a short film that is pure rage. Rage you know, and, you know, just and then added and a little bit of like my other pet peeve. I mean, there are multiple pet peeves, as I’m sure you will find it. But my other pet peeve is the idea that sex is like, it’s like an add-on It’s like, it’s like an appendage. You know, if you’re. The idea should be, let’s get them pain free. You shouldn’t also want to have a sex life. You know, that’s not really very important. “You’re just a woman, right? So no, you’re not, Jane or Dee so you’re not going to want to fuck. So don’t worry about it.” And that’s not good enough either, really. And so a strand in the short was about the idea that you should be allowed to have sex. You should be allowed to have a broken vagina or whatever but sex should also be quite important in that.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;10;13;20 – 00;10;16;29

So, yeah, I’ve ranted already. I’m so sorry.

 

Asha Dahya  00;10;16;29 – 00;10;48;19

Do not apologize. This was fascinating because it’s really interesting to see, you know, the comedic value in Jaq’s story on screen and also the frustration that she goes through and like, yeah, like you said, the idea that sex should be something that women want and want to enjoy and that it shouldn’t be. It’s just interesting hearing a doctor say, “Well, the solution is to get pregnant, but while you’re getting pregnant. Don’t enjoy sex.” The juxtaposition is like mind blowing.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;10;48;19 – 00;11;14;15

Not long after we finished the short, there were billboards on the underground, on the tube, the trains, and there were massive billboards and there were the these smiling men, you know, teeth and tears and, you know, with these fists raised. It was: We’ve solved erectile dysfunction! IT’S SOLVED!

 

Asha Dahya  00;11;14;15 – 00;11;14;23

Oh my god.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;11;15;05 – 00;12;16;12

I could not believe it. I just I’m like, I am. That’s not to say that it’s not important. It absolutely is. It absolutely is. But we don’t even have a treatment for endometriosis. We treat the symptoms. We jack people up on hormones from we don’t really know the long term impacts of that. And I can tell you as someone who has been a guinea pig for multiple hormones that it can cause, it has at times caused me to be incredibly depressed even suicidal thoughts based on the fact that I am all over the place. We are such a guinea pigs for that crap. Or you can go on, you can go on opioids. There you go. There’s not… Do you know what I mean? It’s like there’s no treatment for the actual illness and I don’t. So, yes, men should be allowed to have hard penises, but they shouldn’t be an either/or. But I was so furious, I was like, “Fuck you dude. We don’t even have a treatment for me and my broken fanny.” This isn’t… This. Come on, come on.

 

Asha Dahya  00;12;16;12 – 00;12;19;24

Fuck you and your smiling teeth and your hair…

 

Elaine Gracie  00;12;19;24 – 00;12;29;18

Yeah, you go on when you bang that missus.. I’m just going to say it, I’m just going to bleed all over every man I’ve ever been affectionate with. Yay!

 

Asha Dahya  00;12;29;18 – 00;12;48;29

Would you call if we see happen to Jaq? Not all over the guy that she had sex with, but she leaves blood on his chair and, of course, leaves the apartment very hurriedly. And I’m glad that you helped write that into the script. I wanted to find out how you and Alice Seabright the director first met and how you decided to make this film together?

 

Elaine Gracie  00;12;48;29 – 00;13;59;06

Well, Alice and I were working in the same building for different production companies, and we cut so and so. We would meet each other on the stairs or it was quite an old building on Denmark Street in Soho in London. And we were both. I mean, she was doing a slightly more creative role. I was kind of like answering phones. I started out answering phones and ended up doing slightly more creative stuff, but the building was crappy. We would end up having to talk about the there were foxes that were shitting on the roof, I think. And it was like, at least this is London. It’s Mary Poppins shit man. This is the reality, okay? Like there’s foxes pissing and shitting everywhere, and we had to deal with that, and there were leaks and, you know, it was just crazy. And so we ended up being friends. And as Alice is a very, very talented writer, but she is an inspirational director. She’s like, incredible. And so we became friends and we thought we’d like to work together. We didn’t know we’re on, but we said we’d like to do something. And then I have this wonderful appointment with this doctor.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;13;59;06 – 00;14;14;21

And I said to her I was like, “Listen, this is a bit fucking mad but like crazy. I know you’re maybe just this is not going to be for you. But have a read.” And she read it and she was like, “Yeah, I want to do this.” And I was, “Really?” She was like, “Yeah.” 

 

Asha Dahya  00;14;14;21 – 00;14;36;01

I love that very serendipitous. And I, like I said earlier, I love the way that you use humor through the main character to tell, you know, what is a serious issue. And show these very real frustrations, which now you’re telling me was part of this rage that you’ve been feeling for many years and why did you and Alice decide to include humor as a storytelling tool?

 

Elaine Gracie  00;14;37;11 – 00;15;32;18

Well, I think I mean, humor is born of tragedy in a lot of cases. I think it’s an antidote to discomfort, for me, anyway. If you can make someone laugh about something, I know that if I can make my parents or a family member or friends laugh when I’ve upset them, then I’m off the hook, you know? But I also think it’s to do with yes, to do with discomfort is to do with really uncomfortable topics. That we shy away from. Understandably. You know, you talk about politics or religion or your vagina at the dinner table. Fine but that that has kind of bled into our lives. It’s caused real problems, as I know you guys are dealing in America with pro-lifers and really very restrictive, Horrendous legislation. Really horrendous.

 

Asha Dahya  00;15;32;18 – 00;15;33;25

Really bad.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;15;33;25 – 00;16;30;11

Pretty bad. And that that has to start somewhere or unpicking that has to start somewhere. And oftentimes, if you can if you can laugh about it, then you can introduce a topic and you can begin to talk. You can just start to have discussions. I mean, really, I’m not I’m not this this film is not a panacea. You know, if if it does nothing else, if there’s a sense of awareness that comes out of it, if we can just talk about it, even if people hate it, if people hate the film and some people do I’m sure we’ll get on to that. They hate it Then fine bitch about it to you know, if you have ten women in your life, one of those women will have endometriosis. So say to them, “Gosh, this bloody awful film about endometriosis. Bloody awful. It was disgusting. I vomited up my boiled egg and grey poupon so, you know, I was really upset about it.” And then she might go, “Oh, there’s a film, I’ll find it, I’ll Google it. I’ll find it.”

 

Elaine Gracie  00;16;30;11 – 00;16;50;20

And there you go, you know, just anything, any kind of conversation is better than no conversation, which is kind of how I grew up in quite a religiously repressive household where we still talk dont’t talk it. So, you know, it’s problematic. That’s problematic.

 

Asha Dahya  00;16;50;20 – 00;17;32;16

You mentioned that one in ten women and we spoke with in part one of this episode, I spoke with Jenneh Rishe from the Endo Coalition here in Los Angeles, and she gave a lot of statistics. The one in ten women will be diagnosed with endometriosis. and because there’s such a lack of awareness and a severe lack of funding in the medical world, that number is probably low. So it could be higher than that. And you know, like you said, that kind of incorporates why this film is important and it can be a conversation starter. But I do want to go back to the people that hate this film. Tell me about why people that have expressed why they dislike the film. I’m curious as to…

 

Elaine Gracie  00;17;32;16 – 00;18;16;05

Listen, it’s the best. It’s the best. I mean, I shouldn’t. I’m sure I’m very twisted and sick, but I love trolls. I love them so much. They stalk my fire so massively. I get off on it. I cannot tell you. And so the film at the moment, I think it’s on YouTube for the time being, YouTube is going to take it down because it has violated their terms or something. I mean, it’s impossible. Apparently, it’s impossible to get an answer from YouTube exactly what it is we’ve done. It might be that there’s a girl having sex in it, but I mean, you don’t see anything. I’m sure if it was a Kardashian, having sex would be fine. Right? But it’s not Sophia DeMartino. So what are you going to do?

 

Elaine Gracie  00;18;16;17 – 00;19;03;12

And no. So at some point it will, I think, get taken down or you’ll need to password or something. But for now, if you go on to if you find it on YouTube, then the comments are amazing. They are the best. There’s a lot of women that see and I think this is a very American phrase, they “feel seen” and that’s wonderful. That makes me really happy. There are some women that don’t like it, but the majority of people that don’t like it… This will not surprise you are men. Men are not happy about this film at all. They think it’s totally unnecessary. “This is so unnecessary!” “I don’t want to see this shit.”

 

Asha Dahya  00;19;03;12 – 00;19;05;27

Well then don’t watch it.

Elaine Gracie  00;19;05;27 – 00;19;52;02

Well. Well, but but I kind of love that. I’m very happy that I’ve offended or upset them that makes me really happy. Oh, no. Oh. So this woman that pretend it’s with you that pretends that she doesn’t bleed once a month or twice a month or every time that she has sex. She does, mate. She also poos and farts and does all these other things. It’s like desperately offensive to these men and, like, I’m sure we’ll get on to this, but the use of food as as the kind of visual metaphor for our internal organs really upsets them because I think it’s in their future, they’d love to have, like, a papaya based breakfast or something. And now they’re going to be thinking about all the endometriosis.

 

Asha Dahya  00;19;52;28 – 00;20;57;04

All this tells me is that you are a genius for incorporating that into this film and really making something that it has some sort of shock value in a way that people react like that. And I think it really plays into the larger culture of women’s bodies being considered “gross.” You know, the way that periods are talked about, the way that abortion is so heavily overregulated and seen as a political and religious thing. But in reality, one in three women in the UK, one in three women in the U.S. will have an abortion in their lifetime. It is so normal to talk to me about I mean, can you draw the connections between, you know, these very repulsed reactions from men seeing this, you know, a woman who has sex, who bleeds and who talks about her life and the larger culture that we’re still dealing with in terms of, you know, bodily autonomy and women being allowed to enjoy pleasure and sex and all of those things?

 

Elaine Gracie  00;20;57;07 – 00;21;38;23

Oh, well, yeah. I mean, obviously, if there wasn’t a problem, the film wouldn’t be upsetting. It’s really not. Nothing happens in this film. We’re not seeing a fetus getting dragged out of anything. It’s a boiled egg. it’s a boiled egg. So if you have a problem with a little… you know what I mean? However, having said that, I’m going to play devil’s advocate because part of the reason that I wanted to do that was I thought I don’t it’s not that I feel bad for anyone who doesn’t menstruate, but I can kind of understand a little bit where they’re coming from, right? I mean, with my male friends, with my brother, with my father, I try to say, imagine you got kicked in the dick.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;21;39;05 – 00;22;24;05

You know, that feeling where you feel nauseous and you’re in pain and you want to ice it, and then you want people to feel sorry for you for a while. Well, that’s me for like two weeks out of a month, ok? I’m expected to continue. I’m expected to live my life and expected to still do all these things. They don’t really get it. And actually, there’s a there’s a kind of a real semi toxic kind of strand in women that can come across as well because they do have cramps. But endometriosis pain is not cramps. It’s not. It’s excruciatingly painful. It’s not something that I can just put a hot water bottle on and then just sit there. It’s completely debilitating.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;22;24;05 – 00;23;44;08

And so what we, what I wanted to do was I wanted to take something that had positive connotations. Wholesome connotations,. Something that is sweet and tasty and warm and kind of loving. And you know, where you get all that wonderful kind of art that has fruit. And, you know, and I wanted to kind of destroy it in front of them. And it’s the best I mean, love the film, hate the film, think it’s dog shit. I don’t care if I’m sitting in an auditorium, which I have done because it’s played at quite a few festivals now. And that moment where the egg bursts, where the thumb bursts the boiled egg. Everyone in the place flinches. And that’s, that’s success to me because now you understand. Now you understand exactly what it’s like. It’s not a pain, it’s not an external pain. It’s an internal pain that plagues me. It follows me around. It takes something that should be it should be part of me. It should be I should celebrate it. I should feel liberated by it and it and it and it haunts me. And now you kind of understand that just for a second, you go, oh, god, horrible. Right?

 

Elaine Gracie  00;23;44;08 – 00;24;29;04

And that’s what a lot of the men that watch the film on YouTube are like: oh, I’ll never eat boiled eggs again. And I’m like, good. Yes. Success I’m have given you trauma. That was part of the reason why we went with that. It works. It really works. And so, yeah, I feel like that was a major achievement but it’s difficult. It’s I mean, 100%, 100% autonomy. 100%. There is a wider kind of institutional complacency when it comes to the medical profession that don’t really seem to think that there’s a problem. We’ll just get pregnant. I mean, that tells you everything you need to know.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;24;29;04 – 00;25;11;03

I think it’s been quite interesting for me having wider discussions with charities or institutions or people like yourselves. We we did not long after the film came out, the kind of main charity in London, Endometriosis UK wanted me to do like an Instagram live thing. And so I was like, All right, fine, I’m going to swear and I hope, you know, that’s all right. Yeah alright. Your scar tissue. It’s fine. You’ll get away with it. But so, so we came on live and that was a reasonable number of people watching and then we got into trouble. We had a little we had some issues because of the word “vagina.”

 

Asha Dahya  00;25;12;02 – 00;25;13;03

Oh wow.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;25;13;03 – 00;25;51;22

Not because of cock, fuck, or shit or bitch or tits but for vagina. Vagina. And I was like what? That’s? What? That doesn’t. That’s weird. Why is Instagram upset at us for vagina? And so I started to think about that. And I started to go away and have conversations with friends who have children. And I just started to realize that we in a way, we start the stripping of our autonomy really early with women. And I’m just gonna caveat this by saying I don’t have kids. I don’t know if I can have kids. You can raise your kids however you feel about raising kids. Don’t listen to me.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;25;51;22 – 00;26;34;15

We’re having this discussion, Asha. Don’t listen to me. Don’t do anything I do. Well, this thing is I think about this stuff because I’ve got lovely left-leaning, liberal, educated friends who make their daughters call their vaginas bizarre names like Woo-Woo or your bits or your I don’t know, like. It just, it really threw me. It really threw me. I was like, well, what are we what is this? This is bizarre. And so when I started to talk to my friends, like, a lot of them were quite offended that I was bringing it up. Was just like, why? And the more I start to think about it, the more I realized that it was really just a projection of sexuality.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;26;34;26 – 00;27;02;21

What’s what you’re seeing is the vagina. It’s inextricably linked to sex. It really that’s its purpose. That’s what’s there for your body. That’s what it’s designed for. It’s not, it’s not really for anything else. Which, again, is really weird when you think about in the context of a child. But what it’s doing, the two things that I would argue that it’s doing, and again, I don’t have kids do what you like…

 

Elaine Gracie  00;27;03;04 – 00;28;18;03

I would argue the two things that it’s doing is, first of all, it’s introducing shame really early, really early. This is the secret thing, the secret time. You know, you wash your elbows and your nose and your back and your feet and you’re 50 or whatever. I mean, it’s almost this bizarre. It’s bizarre when you think about it. The second thing it does and I would say this is much more damaging is it says to this girl that you don’t own that. Right? Your parents your grandparents, wider society, governments, the clergy, Congress, the Senate, whatever. Other people own that part of you, you can’t call it the anatomically correct name for that part of you because it doesn’t belong to you. Really. Belongs to someone else. So you don’t get to call it that. You have to call it what we decide. You have to call it a cute little girly and offensive name. So that no one is upset by it at like three. Which is just bizarre.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;28;18;09 – 00;29;02;02

It’s just madness. And so I guess like for me, the short: it’s just about education. You know, we need to start teaching girls, women, anyone with the vagina that, that vagina is yours that you can call it. I mean, if you want to call it something else. Right. But don’t do it because the other the adults in your life are uncomfortable about you having it. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. And so yeah, I’ve got all my mate’s kids going “vagina, vagina, vagina” now. Which you can imagine so stand like a fart left with their grandparents. What are you teaching this child? We’re teaching you the anatomically correct name for body part.

 

Asha Dahya  00;29;02;02 – 00;29;27;21

Thank you very much. Well, I think you’re doing something really disruptive in a really important way, you know, through the film, educating people like you said. And I do have a daughter. She’s two and she still wears diapers or nappies, as you call them in the UK and I grew up in a very religious household and we never use the word vagina or penis or sex or any of those things. But like you said, we knew what an elbow was and a hand.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;29;27;21 – 00;29;28;14

Yeah.

 

Asha Dahya  00;29;28;14 – 00;30;34;00

And so my husband and I were like, we really made the decision to be like, we’re going to call it a penis and we’re going to call in a vagina. And it’s going to be normal. Might be a bit weird for us at first because he was brought up Catholic. I was brought up Christian. And so we were both like, You don’t talk about sex, any of those things but we really made the point of doing that. And even a couple of times (I’m putting him on blast here), he would say things like, I don’t know, use funny names. I’m like, No, Angelo use the word vagina just say vagina. It’s not a big deal. And now he does. And so now when I change Zoe’s diaper, she’ll say, Zoe has vagina. Frankie. My son Frankie has penis. Daddy has penis. Mummy has vagina. That’s right, Zoe. And so far, it’s normal for her and for me is about the wider I don’t want her to go to school and go through life thinking like, Oh, this is a dirty, shameful thing. It’s like, this is a part of my body. I know the name and I know that it is mine to protect and do it as I please. And that’s it. And so that’s my tiny little story in my corner of the movement, I guess.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;30;34;09 – 00;31;39;01

But it’s not tiny. This is what I’m seeing. You know, again, like, if you had decided not to okay but just think about it. Just think of it while you’re doing it or at some have a conversation with with your daughter where you say, okay, we’ve used these little terms. We did it. We didn’t do it because we thought it was bad. But, you know, it is called a vagina and it’s fine to have one. And if you ever have a problem with it, come to us. Because circling back to endometriosis, that was the issue in my house. I could never have said the word vagina to my parents. Never. I still can’t say the word vagina to my parents. So how the hell was I ever going to tell them that it was broken? I was like, ever going to have that conversation with them at some point? All it does is put barriers in your way. At some point going from the very benign to the to the absolute worst case, you know, like just, you know, you’ve got a slight issue with your periods or you’re just having too much pain. Or you might have a cyst or something that’s not that dramatic all the way through to that extreme sexual assault.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;31;39;01 – 00;32;41;05

You’re making it just a little bit harder for a woman to vocalize these things. Why would we do that? It doesn’t make any sense. At some point, you’re going to have to sit down with a doctor or a gynecologist or a policeman or someone and go, someone there is a problem with this thing or someone did this to me in this place. And if you are already filled with shame about that part of your body for no discernible reason, you are making everything a million times fucking harder. So just use the words, use the word. I mean, it’s your own dance addiction and shame. It’s your own shame. That’s stopping you from doing it. It just doesn’t make any sense when it comes to the kids. However, I have friends that still do that. I love you guys. I love you guys. Love your kids. Don’t stop them from seeing me.

 

Asha Dahya  00;32;41;07 – 00;33;40;20

I think it’s really important. You know, you mentioned the word shame. Shame can be so debilitating and really prevent so much progress in this. And I think films, you know, like End-O can be a powerful resource and help people be seen. And, you know, one of the things Jenna from the Endo Co., said that there’s not a whole lot she’s a and she’s a nurse, too. So she’s got endo she’s a nurse. She created this awareness organization. And what she says is that there’s not a whole lot of resources out there. So she directs her patients to documentaries and films, and there aren’t a whole lot of like extensive Op-Ed and articles written that the way there are. I’ll be like cancer. I like you mentioning earlier before we started recording. So I think I’d love to hear you talk about why Endo can be a powerful resource for how, you know, helping with that education and awareness.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;33;40;20 – 00;34;48;25

Here’s a good example: a lot of my very close friends had absolutely no idea. They didn’t. They didn’t know. And like we were discussing with the kind of the visual, but the metaphor, the an image is worth a thousand words. And if I can make you flinch when that egg pops, then, you know, I’ve done, I’ve done something. But they just had no idea that sex was an issue. That’s that that I was bleeding on things on my cell, that I was having pain, that nausea depression, look, just all that shit because because it’s shameful. We were not encouraged to talk about it. So in a way, it’s you know, and also it can get exhausting. Let’s be honest, you know, having to be an advocate to show, you know, all the time, every day sometimes you just don’t want to have to. So if you can send them a link to the shore and go, this is what I’m dealing with, then that’s great.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;34;49;06 – 00;35;43;18

You know, it will be if people talk about it like like I said earlier, one in ten, you know, someone with it. I mean, it’s been astounding to me. It was only when there was a girl I went to high school with. And I remember in high school thinking I mean, well, I I’m not entirely sure what we thought at the time. I’m sure we came up with all kinds of ridiculous ballocks about why she was teaching days, all things and what was going on with her and why she had these kind of mood swings and just all this kind of shit, you know, what kids are like and but it was only when I started, I mean, Christ Friends forever, and it was only when I started working on the film, when I started telling people, Oh yeah, I’m doing this short or and promoting the short that I’ve written. It’s about endometriosis. She was like, Oh, I have that nice.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;35;46;06 – 00;36;48;06

I’ve known. You since I was a kid, these kids. And we never talked about it, and we could have supported each other. We could have, you know, and I think about my sister again, so, so much worse for her because the mornings because because of her, I mean, she she’s chronic. She’s chronic. And and when she was a teenager, the mornings my mum would dry her out of bed and force her to go to school and she would have fainting fits and just all the rest of it, like one really unnecessary crap that went on because we didn’t because we wouldn’t talk about anything, you know, I mean, if, if this if if it’s nothing else, if you can’t be bothered because a, you know, chronic illness, chronic illnesses, you spend a lot of time shot. You’re exhausted, completely exhausted by like so having to sit down with everyone all the time and go, I try Hamden and this is kind of neat. Yeah, similar to the, you know, the lining of the words. I don’t know, you know, having to do that.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;36;48;06 – 00;37;57;01

Sometimes you don’t just want to be an advocate today. Leave me alone. Right? I went to the American office and eat stuff that I know will cost me more pain tomorrow. Okay. So, you know, so here’s the film. Here’s the film. Watch the film. Like it, don’t like it, troll it because, you know, I’m going to love that. Knock it away. Well, I love it. I love it. I mean, I had a I had a chat with the two producers when I was like, I love the it makes me laugh, but should I start commenting back because there might be women watching it and then they see these comments and they’re so triggered by it, like, should I start commenting? And they were like, well, we think that’s a slippery slope. Because I can be quite, you know, cutting and I don’t do know if that helps either. I mean, I think if a guy watches it and he thinks it’s disgusting, then he’s well within his right to say it’s disgusting. You know, he’s probably not going to end up in a happy, healthy relationship is he? Good luck to him.

 

Asha Dahya  00;37;57;01 – 00;38;13;17

Seriously. And just to clarify, for people who haven’t seen the film, yet, when Elaine is talking about the boiled egg and the papaya, there are these visually recurring shots throughout the film of a uterus. And it’s made up of pink spaghetti. Was it dyed pinks?

Elaine Gracie  00;38;13;17 – 00;38;27;12

The papaya was in the center and then like dyed spaghetti and then boiled eggs and various other bits going on, that and whatever.

 

Asha Dahya  00;38;27;12 – 00;38;48;01

So as we see Jaq goes through her various scenarios: meeting a guy, going on a diet, having sex, explaining that it was painful and bleeding on a chair. We continually see this shot of the food uterus. And as she’s explaining the pain and talking to the doctor and then eventually the soft boiled egg, I mean, I’m not giving it away.

 

Asha Dahya  00;38;50;05 – 00;39;35;29

At the point where she’s describing the real pain, there’s a thumb that comes in the in the shot and bursts the boiled egg and then that’s the moment where you mentioned that people in the audience flinch and really use those visual reminders, really bring it home of what endometriosis is. So I think, you know, March being Endometriosis Awareness Month. Even though the film came out in 2020, I think it’s just so relevant to have this film as a as a powerful way to have these conversations. And like you said, you know what every every person’s experience is different this is your experience put into a script version on a film and it’s generating a lot of interest and feedback and trolls so it’s doing its job I would say.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;39;36;16 – 00;39;40;04

Yeah. Yeah I love those tools. Don’t stop trolling me guys. I love it. Yeah.

 

Asha Dahya  00;39;40;04 – 00;39;53;27

Well now it seems like they might have some more opportunity to tell you because tell me what you’re working on next and how you’re incorporating this film or the story or the topic into building it out further?

 

Elaine Gracie  00;39;53;27 – 00;40;55;04

So the response to the film has been massive and I didn’t expect it. You know, it was very much a passion project. So yeah, one did not create that in order to win accolades or anything, but it has done very successfully. And I think what we realized is you know, what your medical professionals said, there’s just nothing out there. Like, there’s really nothing. We someone, the producer, one of the producers be able to to give you more detail on this. But we got someone from like NHS Scotland got in touch with us and said we might want to screen the film at conferences for doctors. And I was like, Come on, you’re not being facetious? I mean, there’s a lot of swearing in it. It’s not, you know, it’s not “an educational tool,” but it just it just highlights that there is a real dearth.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;40;55;04 – 00;41;44;14

There’s just nothing out there that adequately explains or explores the experience. So from there, I kinda went away and I thought about it because the structure of a show, I mean, you want to keep a short, quite tight and quite dramatic and good. But I thought, well, there’s a much bigger world in this, you know, that are that are socio political reasons. Why this is a problem. This is a bigger story. And also the fact that I’m from Scotland, I almost feel like where I was from… I’m sure this is not true. There will be multiple places in the world where this phrase will be just as accurate. But for me, a tiny village in Scotland is the worst place to have a broken vagina.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;41;44;21 – 00;43;39;23

It’s the worst place because you can’t talk about any of it. But at the same time, everyone knows your business. You know, so there’s no going to the GP and then him not telling the pharmacist who he’s married to exactly what you’re getting given, and then them telling everyone else so it’s kind of the worst. So I went away and I started writing a pilot script for a TV show that’s going to be kind of based. I mean, it’s not really based on the short, but it’s like the world, the issues. So I’m working on that just now with V.A.L. (Various Artists Limited). I don’t know if you guys will have seen “I May Destroy You” or so it’s the production company that made “I May Destroy You” and so I’ve been working with them on it for the last couple of months and then one of the producers from the show as well. So yeah. So that’s hopefully where we’re going. That’s fingers crossed that it there will be a place for that among the gazillion TV shows in the world. But I think it should be explored. I think it should be explored. And, you know, it will get people talking and there will be a strong thread of humor in there. As there must be. There ought to be. So, yeah, so that’s what I’m doing next. Well, I’m very excited to hear that. And please keep us posted on the series and you know, I love Michaela Coel and I May Destroy You as a brilliant, brilliant, really good TV content. And so and if your success with End-O is anything to go by, I have no doubt the series will be just as brilliant and impactful. So best of luck with all of that. Where can people connect with you and share more comments or questions or perhaps troll comments since you don’t seem to dislike them? I’m just kidding.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;43;39;23 – 00;43;43;26

I don’t believe that I’ve invited that into my life. [laughter]

 

Asha Dahya  00;43;44;07 – 00;43;47;03

Did you manifest this?

 

Elaine Gracie  00;43;47;03 – 00;44;05;24

Eee Yes, so the short on Instagram, it’s: @endoshortfilm. I’ve written that down, that’s correct. @endoshortfilm where you can get updates on the shorts and then I’m @wee_egracie. I clearly was high when I wrote that because that’s crazy, but that’s my Instagram account.

 

Asha Dahya  00;44;05;24 – 00;44;08;05

That sounds very Scottish.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;44;08;05 – 00;44;17;23

Oh I guess it is isn’t? Oh I’m desperately Scottish. Mortifying. Really not very classy or exotic but here we are. Here we are with our broken vaginas. Whoo!

 

Asha Dahya  00;44;19;11 – 00;44;41;19
This has been one of my favorite interviews ever. It’s been so wonderful. Speaking with you, Elaine, and thank you for opening up with your story and, you know, really being vulnerable and sharing a lot of the what is surrounding the endometriosis issue because it’s definitely enlightening for me and I’m sure for many people listening. So thank you so much for chatting with me today.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;44;42;00 – 00;44;46;14
Thank you. And I hope my accent wasn’t too much of a problem because it can be.

 

Asha Dahya  00;44;46;14 – 00;44;48;03
Definitely not.

 

Elaine Gracie  00;44;48;03 – 00;44;49;05
Brilliant. Thank you!

 

Asha Dahya  00;44;52;14 – 00;45;22;20
If you haven’t had a chance to watch ‘End-O’ yet, head to the link in the periodical newsletter, or visit www.reprofilm.org. Trust me when I say, this film is essential viewing, made by a very talented and creative team of filmmakers! Thank you to Elaine Gracie for joining me for this interview, and Jenneh Rishe from the endometriosis coalition in part 1. I look forward to bringing you another episode of the rePRO Film Podcast series next month. Bye for now!

SHOW NOTES:

Originally from Glasgow, Elaine Gracie is a comedy screenwriter with a unique and distinctive voice. She is mentored by multi award-winning writer Peter Straughan. Her first feature film POLLYAMOROUS is in development with Bluebird Productions and Film4. Elaine also has an original six part dark comedy drama MOLLS in development with Ranga Bee and Sky Studios and an original comedy TV series co-written with Rob Thorman in development at NBC Universal. Elaine created, wrote and starred in the short film SARAH CHONG IS GOING TO KILL HERSELF which was commissioned by Creative England’s ‘Funny Girls’ scheme as part of the BFI Network in association with Big Talk and Baby Cow. Her second short film END-O which starred Sophia di Martino was selected for the 2019 BFI Film Festival and won the audience award at Berlin Feminist film week as well as Best Screenplay at Exit 6. She now has a six part comedy series based on END-O titled RIVER IN EGYPT in development with VAL.