Cameras start rolling on independent Black Country film

By Heather Large | Entertainment | Published:

Filming is under way to bring a heartfelt and dramatic love story set across two decades to life.

Cameras have been rolling on independent movie You Are My Sunshine at locations around the Black Country including Barr Beacon and Walsall Leather Museum.

Written and directed by Darlaston film maker Dave Hastings, it follows Tom and Joe, who first meet in the 1970s and charts their humble beginnings in a world only just waking up to homosexuality.

The 90-minute film, which will be produced by Troy Dennison and Kaush Patel, follows the two teenagers as they try to navigate their way through an uncompromising time in history.

Filming has begin for the first segments of the story which are set the 1970s but the film will also show their modern day counterparts having to deal with the repercussions of their early lives.

These scenes will be shot during the second part of filming which will take place early next year.

The crew and cast, which includes Hellraiser actor Simon Bamford as Joe's father Martin, have been busy re-creating life during the 70s at the Manor Arms in Rushall and in Darlaston.

While scenes are also being captured on film at the Manor House Museum in West Bromwich and by the sea in Rhyl.

On Monday, they were filming key scenes, including the moment Joe and Tom first meet, at Walsall Leather Museum


"It's the first time they catch eye of each other so we've got to make sure we get it right. We've already filmed their first kiss and that was very powerful and emotional" said Mr Hastings, a film lecturer at Walsall College.

"The characters are beautifully written and the performances from the actors have been phenomenal. It's important to tell these stories because for years people had to hide who they really were. There was a lot of repression back then and there is still is now to some extent but love is love and that's all that matters," added Mr Dennison.

Walsall-born Jack Knight, aged 23, is playing the younger version of Joe and said he was 'loving every minute' of the filming.

"When we first see Joe, he's shy and reserved, a turtle inside his shell but Tom manages to coax him out of this and you see the real Joe.


"I think I could see part of Joe's upbringing that were in line with my own and I could relate to him questioning his identity because I've struggled with that too, that's what drew me to the role," he added.

Tom is described as a ‘typical young lad’ who lives an isolated existence after being abandoned by his family prior to the film’s narrative.

He lives on odd jobs, concealing his sexuality, and wants to spend his life with Joe, regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.

Joe lives with his father, Martin, his sister Ethel and works for his dad’s painting firm.

The also includes Steve Salt as young Tom, Charlie Clarke as young Ethel, Charles O’Neill as an older Joe and Rosemary Manjunath as an older Ethel.

Mr Hastings said he was delighted with the support the crew had received from businesses in Walsall. "We've had a lot of support from the community and from places like the Leather Museum and Walsall Council. The other night our generator was dying and we needed a bit of power. I was asking around and the Erodex factory was happy to help. Everyone is so supportive," he added.

Catherine Lister, collections officer at Walsall Leather Museum, said staff were pleased to support the project by allowing the attraction to be transformed into a film set.

"It's a beautiful building so it's really nice to be able to show it off. It's also another way of viewing the artefacts as they are seen in the film and it's good to support the local film industry," she added.

*For more information see

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.


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