“I instinctively knew I had to make a film about the ideas in the book, The Master and his Emissary. It became a mission.”
Vanessa Dylyn, Producer, The Divided Brain

Vanessa Dylyn

Vanessa Dylyn, Producer, “The Divided Brain”

I read Iain McGilchrist’s book, The Master and his Emissary, in early 2012. I had read some astounding reviews about the book, and given that I had already produced two films about the brain, I was anxious to read what all the fuss was about.

The biggest hurdle

I soon realized I was reading a book written by a great intellect, with the highly unusual background of being a psychiatrist and an English professor at Oxford. I was fascinated by the book’s exploration of how Western culture has been shaped by the evolution of our brain hemispheres.

I instinctively knew I had to make a film about the ideas in the book. It became a mission. Though I had made a film about the relationship between the brain and music, this film based on a book that linked our Western culture to the relationship between the two brain hemispheres would be the biggest hurdle I’d ever face.


As serendipity would have it, I read that Iain was coming to Toronto to deliver a lecture for TVO (a local broadcaster). I enlisted a brilliant writer, Stephen Milton, to take on the task of imagining Iain’s book as a film. By the time Iain McGilchrist and I met, I had a plan to show him. He was surprised that Stephen and I had actually understood and ‘got’ his concept.

A new way of seeing the world

Much of the book rang true personally for me and seemed to give validity to some of my experiences in the working world and in my observations that mindless “administrivia” was taking over valuable time. But are our modern brains really changing? There are many clues. Scientists know we are seeing an unprecedented rise of depression, schizophrenia and other forms of mental illness. At the same time, we know that schools have been witnessing a huge increase in neurological anomalies: Autism, Asperger’s, and ADHD. Parents are stressed to help their children who struggle to form human relationships or learn.

There is no question that The Divided Brain puts our Western way of life under a microscope. If the viewer comes away from this film truly changed, with a completely new way of seeing his or her world, I will have accomplished my mission.

written by Vanessa Dylan, Producer, The Divided Brain

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