Alumni profiles: Èva Perrault-Gagnon

TONIC by Bishop’s alumna Èva Perreault-Gagnon ‘20 is a brand-new francophone series released on Youtube. The story follows Charlotte, a young woman living with epilepsy and learning how to grow with the condition in a world that doesn’t understand it.  

Fellow Bishop’s alumni, Pierre-Luc Pépin and Anne-Sophie Demers, were part of the cast and the team even came back to Bishop’s campus to film two episodes. 

How it began 

Perreault-Gagnon studied drama at Bishop’s but eventually extended her interest to the world of cinema. “I just wanted to try [film] and as soon as I did, I just really, really loved it,” she shares. “I took film classes at Bishop’s, and I did two exchanges to California, so I learned a lot over there as well.” As cinema turned into a passion, she then produced a short film, titled Seizure 52, for Bishop’s University Film Festival (BUFF).  

Épilespie Montérégie, a not-for-profit organization that helps people living with epilepsy and spreads awareness, approached her only two days after the release of Seizure 52 to establish a partnership. “They wanted to do educational videos, but I had another idea in mind. I was already thinking about [TONIC], and I told them ‘It’s a lot over your budget, but I’m sure it’s going to work a lot better if you try to do a series. It’s going to reach a lot more people and people are going to love this kind of content a lot more.’ They were like ‘you know what? We don’t have the money, but let’s try it anyway’ and we did, and we ended up having a big budget from the government!” 

As Perreault-Gagnon herself lives with epilepsy and regularly faces misinformation and misconceptions, the subject is very personal to her. “It’s really exhausting because having a seizure, it’s as if you were to run, like, a marathon and then you have to sleep for two or three days sometimes, or you have a big migraine,” she explains. Diagnosed at thirteen, she had her first seizure when she was only ten years old.  

In this way, the story of TONIC ended up being near-autobiographical to her, which was not originally her goal. “I wanted to be able to represent a lot more people, but as I was talking to people with epilepsy, I just realized a bunch of us are living the same situations. So, it ended up being very much my story.” Because of this, the two-week-long filming process became a very emotional and therapeutical experience for her.

For Perreault-Gagnon, this untraditional path is nothing new. Even during her time at Bishop’s, she was constantly looking to pave her own way and never hesitated to create alternative assignments that allowed her to be creative. “Once, I didn’t want to write an essay, so I asked [Dr. Rebecca Harries] to write a script. And then I wrote that script [Seizure 52], for BUFF, and that’s when I realized I should just tell my own story and what I’m struggling with, because that’s the biggest thing that’s happening in my life … our story is the best story to tell in the end.”  

What’s next for her?  

The series had tremendous success and is now used as an educational resource on epilepsy by neurologists. Perreault-Gagnon has done a few television interviews on the subject and keeps receiving new opportunities. 

While Perreault-Gagnon is looking into a season 2 for TONIC, she is also branching out with different projects. She is still working in collaboration with Épilepsie Montérégie and beginning a documentary project about men with epilepsy.   

Perreault-Gagnon also has a podcast coming out this Saturday, March 26, 2022, in honour of Lavender Day. The podcast will approach the subjects of epilepsy, her series and some behind the scenes, and will feature various perspectives from people around her, including friends, co-workers and previous professors. 

Click HERE to watch TONIC now! 

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